Comcast’s new skyscraper confirms Philadelphia’s global status

Philadelphia skyline with the addition of CITC

All I have to say about this is … wow.

When the news hit on Wednesday, I was literally shocked; as I pride myself on keeping up with the local Philadelphia development scene. Although, I am not a professional blogger or journalist; it’s more of a hobby for me.

Not only was Comcast able to keep the details of such a large project completely hush-hush, but they really outdid themselves with its location, design, and overall utilization. Rumors had been circulating, via local photo-blogging expert Bradley Maule, but the specifics were non-existent.

So, what does this building mean for Philadelphia? IMHO, a lot.

But before I get into why I think this project is an amazing step forward for our great city, along with having impeccable timing, I’m going to lean on my pal Liz Spikol for the project details.

Here you go (thanks for taking the time, Liz):

– 1,121 ft tall, or 59 stories
– 13 floors for a Four Seasons Hotel, with 200 rooms
– 2,682 sq ft of retail space
– An extension of the underground SEPTA concourse by one block
– Exterior glass elevator
– Shared workspace environment for 4,000 employees
– Tallest building in the US, outside of NYC and Chicago
– $1.2B project cost, with both private investment and grants from the city/commonwealth
– 1.517M sq ft
– Block-long lobby
– Gardens
2 restaurants
– Fitness facilities
– Public reception space
– Ownership: 80% Comcast, 20% Liberty
– Management: Liberty
– LEED platinum certification (hopefully)
– $30.7M in annual commonwealth tax revenue
– $21.5M in annual city tax revenue
– 2,800 new/permanent jobs within the city
– 20,000+ temporary jobs
– Targeted completion date: 2017

Yooo … seriously?

Before we get into some of my own thoughts/opinions, check out the video below for a well-done virtual tour.

That is one awesome project, and it will be the tallest building to-date in Philadelphia.

When the Comcast Center was built/completed back in June 2008, it was a huge statement for our fair city. It meant that our local, urban economy could still support an HQ for a company as big as Comcast; considering they were also looking at their options in NYC (which almost went the way of Verizon back in 1996).

This development also meant that our downtown was about to change.

Comcast Center | Center City, Philadelphia


And it did.

These days, especially with the next real estate wave right in front of us, Center City is booming. New restaurants, new shops, new museums, new apartments, new buildings, new companies, new events, and lots of new people. Center City Philadelphia is considered to be the 3rd most populous downtown in the US (again, behind NYC and Chicago), and it’s the heartbeat of Philadelphia’s resurgence as a world-class city.

Okay, that’s enough history. Now for the fun stuff.

As a blogger, I am of the opinion that my role is to not only find interesting news that others might enjoy, but also to provide constructive criticism based on what I read. If I didn’t include the latter, all I would need to do is copy/paste links.

But where’s the fun in that, right?

So if you happen to be a regular reader (and please know that I appreciate all of you), you know that I typically break down Philadelphia news into small pieces in order make your reading more simple and enjoyable.

Here we go…

CITC Renderings | Foster + Partners

There are 3 main/general reasons why I feel that not only is the new Comcast building a game-changer for Philadelphia as a city, but also why I really like the project myself:

1. Location, Location, Location: The 3 most important words in real estate could not be more relevant when discussing the Comcast Innovation + Technology Center (CITC, as it’s been dubbed already). First, the building is just across the street from the existing Comcast Center; smart move. Second, the location allows for an extension of the underground concourse to Suburban Station; good thinking. And third, it’s located in the middle of Philadelphia’s business district, which helps create synergy among those who already work in the area while adding appropriately to our ever-changing, dense skyline; bravo.

2. Lots of permanent jobs, which can easily translate into additional jobs: Most of what I have seen thus far has stated that the new CITC will create 1,500 permanent jobs, but that’s just the start. Not only will this project solidify Philadelphia’s reputation as one of the world’s leading cities for media innovation, but it helps provide a base for all of the recent smaller, start-up companies that also call Philadelphia home. This is where additional jobs could be created, through incubation and collaboration with one of the largest companies in the world.

3. It’s Comcast: I know the title of this last one may shock you, but it’s important. From a customer service standpoint, Comcast is known to have a less-than-stellar reputation; I can also attest to that, as I am a current customer myself (sorry, Comcast). However, the acquisition of NBC Universal has literally “electro-shocked Comcast back into coherence” (as once quoted by George Costanza). In other words, Comcast is now considered the largest mass media and communications company in the world. With Comcast committed to taking at least 75% of the space at CITC, it creates a huge presence for the media giant and allows others to feed off of that energy. That is why having a large company (like Comcast) associated with this project is so important, as opposed to just having a developer propose the building without having tenants in place.

Whew, and there you have it. My two cents on a platter.

Comcast’s Innovation + Technology Center is going to redefine Center City Philadelphia in the years to come, and it has the potential to redefine our entire region on a global scale.

Here are some helpful links to read up further on the subject:

Comcast to construct $1.2B skyscraper

Comcast officially confirms skyscraper

Talking CITC with John Gattuso

Comcast seeks to redefine Philadelphia

Look inside the new Comcast tower

Renderings of Comcast’s new skyscraper

What is a CityNext Showcase City?

Seattle … not Philadelphia.

Well for starters, Philadelphia is 1 of only 13 cities (globally) to be named one. We were also the only North American city selected.

Microsoft is the creator of this program, and it has carefully selected cities around the world to take part in it. As stated in this article, here is what the program is trying to accomplish:

“CityNext is a global initiative empowering cities, businesses, and citizens to re-imagine their futures and cultivate vibrant communities. Cities are centers of industrial, economic, and entrepreneurial activity that fuel the rest of the world’s success. But cities increasingly encounter compelling forces, such as rapid urbanization, modernization mandates, and economic austerity pressures. Microsoft CityNext offers cities a vast and diverse Microsoft Partner Network of more than 430,000 technology experts across the globe to innovate today and create a better tomorrow. Leveraging a broad portfolio of familiar and security-enhanced consumer to business software, devices and services and Microsoft’s history of successful education and social programs, CityNext is a collective effort that enables cities and their people to accomplish what’s next.”

So what does this mean for Philadelphia? It means that Microsoft will give us 3 years of solid focus and support to try and accomplish the goals stated above. They want us to embrace technology, improve communication, and increase efficiencies across all city departments; a tall order, but something that’s definitely needed.

Now, the goals stated above are rather vague and general, IMHO. But what I like about us getting selected for this program is that a powerhouse like Microsoft is taking note of Philadelphia, and the great energy it has. Philadelphia has a long, storied history of entrepreneurial success, and it seems like everyday now that we’re taking another step in the right direction toward embracing that spirit as a global, forward-thinking city. Our technology scene is doing very well, and our open office culture is leading the charge across the US.

As a city, I also think it’s smart to jump at opportunities like this one because it’s available to those who want it. In other words, Microsoft has put its neck out there to support cities who want to embrace technology as a way to enhance Philadelphia’s quality of life and the customer service of its citizens. Our job was apply and accept; smart move.

I think it’s a no-brainer to jump at an opportunity like this. It’s also cool to know that we were the only American city slected.

Nice job, Philly.

In Philadelphia, which one will it be?

Technology | Sustainability | Food | The Arts
That’s a great question, and it’s also why I posted this.
Philadelphia has always been known as a city of firsts. The First Zoo, First Stock Exchange, First Skyscraper, First University, and the First Library. It’s really amazing once you stop and think about how many successful concepts that our country (and other developing countries) thrive on, and that got their start in Philadelphia.
But as a city that’s now over 300 years old, Philadelphia is constantly reinventing itself. The problem is that things change so fast these days that it’s hard to know what our focus should be. The good news is that Philadelphia is strong in many prominent categories, so it gives us the opportunity to pick and choose which direction might work best.
Here are 4 areas of focus:
  1. Technology
  2. Sustainability
  3. Food
  4. The Arts 

I could spend a lot more time talking up these different sectors, but this article is a great way to read and learn more about what Philly’s new booming industry will be.