Beneficial is close to HQ decision

The moorestown branch of Beneficial Bank. (April Saul / Staff Photographer)

Beneficial Bank, the biggest lender still based in Philadelphia, has narrowed it down to three possible new headquarters buildings, all in different parts of Center City, for its central staff of around 250, says chief executive Gerry Cuddy.

The bank's current office in the Penn Mutual tower near 4th and Walnut has cool views of the city's brick colonial neighborhoods backed by the Delaware and the Market Street high-rises -- but the space is broken up and Cuddy wants a single "bloc" of up to 120,000 sq ft, because, hey, space in Philly is as cheap now as it was 20 years ago, mostly.

"Our lease expires March 1 of 2014," so he wants to make a decision this February, to give a year's moving time, he told me.

"We looked at leaving the city. We eliminated that. So we looked at moving jobs out of Philadelphia" but keeping the headquarters in the town where Beneficial was founded 160 years ago. "But I like it here."

Are tax breaks or public aid part of the sweetener? "We're talking to the city and the state. But we're not there" right now.

The new space won't include room to grow: "Our commercial lenders are out now more than they're sitting at a desk."

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