Liberty to Develop 205,000-SF Project

GlaxoSmithKline is in the market for a new headquarters facility in Philadelphia and Liberty Property Trust plans to deliver it. At a cost of $81 million, the REIT, along with Synterra Partners, will develop a 205,000-square-foot office building at the Navy Yard Corporate Center for the research-based pharmaceutical company.

February 11, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

GlaxoSmithKline is in the market for a new headquarters facility in Philadelphia and Liberty Property Trust plans to deliver it. At a cost of $81 million, the REIT, along with Synterra Partners, will develop a 205,000-square-foot office building at the Navy Yard Corporate Center for the research-based pharmaceutical company. GSK, which has had a presence in the City of Brotherly Love since 1830, will occupy the property under a 15.5-year lease agreement.

The new location at Five Crescent Dr. will allow GSK to consolidate all staff presently working in offices at One and Three Franklin Plaza in the Center City submarket under one large roof. Robert A.M. Stern Architects, having partnered with Liberty on three projects in the past, joined forces with the developers and GSK to conceive a plan for a sustainable, efficiently designed building with an open floor plan that will be conducive to the exchange of ideas among GSK employees. In addition to premier office accommodations, the four-story building will feature a fitness center, a restaurant and retail services, and will meet the standards for LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Construction of GSK’s new home is on schedule to get underway late this summer, and will reach completion in time for the company to settle in between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

If GSK had desired existing office space, the company might have found a few options that meet its size specifications; Philadelphia’s central business district has approximately 5.6 million square feet of vacant office space, according to a fourth quarter report by commercial real estate services firm Grubb & Ellis Co. “There are some large blocks of space but GSK was driven more by a vision for a particular kind of workplace that could not be easily adapted to an existing building,” John Gattuso, regional director and senior vice president with Liberty, told CPE.

While the market’s offerings were not quite right for GSK, other businesses will begin to eat up some of the empty office space in the not-too-distant future. “Activity is forthcoming,” Gattuso said, highlighting the year 2013. “Around that time there will be users vacating space and looking for new and different configurations, and that will create a lot of activity.”