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Pony up taxpayers, Comcast is building

| Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Not satisfied with one taxpayer-supported skyscraper in Philadelphia, Comcast Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to build an even taller one.

The Philadelphia-based media giant said it will erect a $1.2 billion, 59-story technology center that will rise 1,121 feet next to the Comcast Center, which is 975 feet tall.

Comcast and real estate investment trust Liberty Property Trust said the Norman Foster-designed glass and stainless steel tower would become the “dedicated home” of its expanding workforce of “technologists, engineers and software architects.” It will boast a media center in the heart of downtown Philadelphia that will be home to the region's NBC affiliate, WCAU-TV, and Telemundo's WWSI-TV.

Comcast is the largest global media and technology company and owns NBC Universal.

The two companies say the project is a joint venture between them, with Comcast holding 80 percent and Liberty 20 percent. Construction is set to start this summer, with completion by fall 2017.

The venture is getting $40 million from the city and state, with Philadelphia providing $10 million and Pennsylvania $30 million in grants and $4.5 million in job creation tax credits.

Comcast Center, which opened in June 2008, received $42.75 million in financial incentives from the city and state for the $540 million project.

“We continue to be proud to call Philadelphia our home and are thrilled to build a world-class media, technology and innovation center right in the heart of the city, to bring NBC 10 and Telemundo 62 downtown, and to create thousands of jobs and further drive economic activity in the region,” said Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman and chief executive.

The skyscraper will house up to 4,000 Comcast employees. About 1,500 of those will be new hires, Roberts said.

While 22,000 temporary construction jobs are expected, Roberts said the city will receive about $15 million in taxes, and about $60 million will be returned to the state.

The building is to have more than 1.5 million rentable square feet and will include a Four Seasons hotel and a block-long lobby with a glass-enclosed indoor plaza that will offset Comcast Center's outdoor plaza.

The lobby will feature a restaurant, and a concourse that provides direct connections with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's regional commuter train hub, Suburban Station, will be extended for direct access to the new building.

“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,” Foster said.

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