NBC 10 and Telemundo 62 are putting their storied Bala Cynwyd broadcast studio on the market, clearing the way for fresh development at the site as they prepare to move into a new skyscraper being built for their parent, Comcast Corp., in Center City.
Real estate firm Binswanger Management Corp. is marketing the 5.12-acre property at 10 Monument Rd. off City Avenue, which has been the site of news and production studios since the early 1950s, for its redevelopment potential.
“The site remains a gateway to western suburbs with all of those inherent benefits, but can be developed into an exciting multi-use project that can attract the millennial generation,” Binswanger president and chief executive David R. Binswanger said in a release. “It can truly accelerate the transformation in the area that has already begun.”
The site’s studio building – now a 97,600-square-foot structure – was completed in 1952 for then-CBS affiliate WCAU, which was moving from a smaller broadcast space at 1622 Chestnut St. in Center City, Paul Gluck, a media studies professor at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication, said in an interview.
Early broadcasts included the children’s program Pixanne, with singer-actress Jane Norman, and the circus show Big Top, where Ed McMahon – in clown makeup – got what may have been his first national exposure, said Gluck, who later worked in the studio as a WCAU news director.
“Ten Monument Road has a unique history in the Philadelphia media market,” Ric Harris, president and general manager of NBC 10 and Telemundo 62, said in Thursday’s release. It “will forever be etched in local broadcast-history books.”
NBC assumed ownership of the studio in 1995, when it took over WCAU in a station swap with CBS. WCAU was branded NBC 10.
In 2014, Comcast, by then NBC’s parent, said NBC 10 and Spanish-language affiliate Telemundo 62 would move to the 60-story Comcast Technology Center under development at 1800 Arch St. upon its completion in 2018.
Gluck said that the Bala Cynwyd facility had likely grown outdated, and that space there was probably becoming tight with the addition of affiliates of new NBCUniversal networks such as Cozi TV, which airs classic sitcoms and dramas.
“I can understand why it’s time to get out of there: There’s just no room at the inn,” Gluck said. “You never want to turn your back on history, but they need to build their future.”
The move from Bala Cynwyd is the only known wholesale relocation planned by Comcast as a result of the new tower, said Lauren Gilchrist, Philadelphia research director at commercial services firm JLL.
Terry Foley, chief executive of the nonprofit City Avenue Special Services District, said in an interview that the departures present an opportunity for development at the site that takes advantage of recent zoning changes aimed at making the area more pedestrian-friendly, in part by allowing taller buildings there.
Foley said an office or residential building with ground-level shopping would be a good fit for the site.
Similar projects underway nearby include Keystone Property Group’s work at 150 Monument Rd., where it is building apartments and a parking garage with first-floor retail beside an existing office building, and Post Bros.’ $100 million gut rehab of the Presidential City apartment complex across City Avenue in Philadelphia.
“It’s a great development site,” Foley, whose group works to foster commercial development along the artery separating Philadelphia from Lower Merion, said of the broadcast-studio property. “We’re excited that it’s finally hitting the market.”