Monday, April 14, 2014

New Comcast Tower Will Conquer the Philadelphia Skyline

Six years after Comcast moved into the city's tallest building, the cable-TV and Internet giant expects to break ground this summer on an even taller, more dazzling, $1.2 billion tower. The 1,121-foot mixed-use tower will be the tallest building in the country outside of New York or Chicago. The massive project is expected to jolt Philadelphia's lethargic economy with about 6,300 temporary construction-related jobs and an additional 14,400 jobs in Pennsylvania.

The Comcast Corporation has revealed plans to construct a $1.2 billion, 59-story Comcast skyscraper in Philadelphia designed by British architect Norman Foster of Foster + Partners.

At a height of 1,121 feet, the mixed-use tower is expected to be the tallest building in the United States outside of New York and Chicago.

According to Comcast, it will also be the largest private development project in Pennsylvania’s history.

The new building's adventurous architecture will be a public statement of the company's evolution from a low-tech cable-TV provider to a technology developer with video streaming, Internet products, and mobile apps.

The new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center on Arch Street between 18th and 19th Streets in Center City, will be a neighbor to Comcast Center, the corporation’s current global headquarters, topping that building’s height by 150 feet.

The city and state have committed $40 million in grants to the project, officials said. At 59 stories, the new tower will have about 1.5 million square feet of rentable space.

In addition, the Suburban Station concourse will be extended a block to the west beneath 18th Street.

To help pay for the concourse extension and other public-space improvements, the state has committed $30 million in economic-development grants, and the city has said it will contribute $10 million.

Comcast intends to accommodate the company’s growing work force of technologists, engineers, and software architects. It will become home to the operations of local broadcast television stations and local technology startup companies.

The office spaces, "highly flexible loft-like spaces and studios" are "designed for a dynamic way of working—an engine for the city’s evolution as the kind of leading technology hub presently associated with Silicon Valley,” said Foster in a Comcast press release.

"The arrival of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center makes it perfectly clear that Philadelphia is a premiere U.S. hub of innovation, technology, creativity and productivity," Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke said in a press release.
Comcast is partnering with Malvern, Pennsyvania-based Liberty Property Trust to develop the glass and stainless steel tower, which will include a Four Seasons hotel on the top 13 floors and 2,700 square feet of retail space.

"This is a very special project. It is an opportunity to create a unique and sustainable model for mixed-use, high density development, which uniquely combines spaces for high tech research and development with restaurants, gardens, fitness facilities, and a significant public reception space—a window on Philadelphia," said Foster.

The project includes an estimated $1.2 billion private investment of with approximately $900 million funded by the joint partnership and approximately $300 million will be tenant-funded interior improvements.

The Comcast Innovation and Technology Center is expected to generate $2.75 billion in economic activity within the Commonwealth and the creation of over 20,000 temporary jobs, as well as nearly 4,000 new permanent jobs within the state and 2,800 new permanent jobs within the city. The project will also produce $30.7 million in annual Commonwealth tax revenues and $21.5 million in annual City tax revenues.

"This new building is a game-changer for Comcast and for Philadelphia," said Mayor Michael Nutter. "A world-class building, designed by a world-class architect, built by a world-class developer for a world-class company, all happening in the world-class city of Philadelphia."

Set to break ground this summer, the project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2017.