Glaxo downsizes from Center City to $81M Navy Yard site

GlaxoSmithKline has picked Liberty Property Trust's Navy Yard site to build its new Philadelphia-area offices at the Navy Yard. The job had been coveted by Hill International and other developers for Center City high rise and suburban office park locations. More about Glaxo's smaller new Philly office here.

The UK-based drugmaker's $81 million, 200,000-square-foot-project will be announced at City Hall later this morning. It's a quarter of the size of the roughly 800,000 square feet space Glaxo now occupies in Center City at One and Three Franklin Plaza near 16th and Vine.

Update: Does that mean Glaxo is shrinking its Philadelphia workforce, currently 1,300? No, says Glaxo spokeswoman Jennifer Armstrong: "About half of the space in our current location at Franklin Plaza is currently unoccupied.

But Glaxo is still cutting its Philadelphia occupied office space in half. That means job cuts? "No. They will move all of their employees to the significantly more efficient new building," says Liberty's Jeanne Leonard. "No job loss." Glaxo also has major US offices near Raleigh NC.

Glaxo will cut a hole in Center City as its leases expire over the next three years. The move follows the industrial departures of Arkema, Rohm and Haas, and a big part of Sunoco. No wonder developer Ron Caplan plans to turn the vacant AAA insurance building on Market Street into apartments. People are still moving their homes to Center City; offices, not much.

Liberty is also building a couple of office/warehouse buildings at the Navy Yard, already home to Urban Outfitters and Tastykake.

UPDATE: Liberty and Glaxo say they're sharing the standard 10-year property tax discount for new Philadelphia construction, but there are no Keystone Opportunity Zone benefits since there are no net new jobs being created in this move.