United Way seeking to sell Ben Franklin Parkway HQ building

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United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey's headquarters building at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey is seeking a buyer for its eight-story concrete-and-glass headquarters building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near 17th Street.

Mike DiCandilo, interim president and chief executive of the regional United Way division, said in an interview Thursday that the decision to sell came after the organization compared the cost of maintaining the 47-year-old, 60,000-square-foot building with the proceeds that  could be earned through its sale.

Those returns “can be used much more effectively in the community to help us deepen our impact in our fight against intergenerational poverty,” he said.

The property’s zoning permits a variety of uses, said Jason Kramer, a vice president with real estate services firm Binswanger Management Corp., which has been contracted to market the building at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The structure is “big enough to be substantive as office, residential, hotel, academic or even medical,” he said in a release. “Yet not so big as to be overwhelming.”

No target price has been set for the property, Kramer said in an email.

As a mid-20th-century-style work by Philadelphia-based architecture firm Mitchell/Giurgola Associates, which also designed the Australian Parliament House in Canberra, the building is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. That means the city’s Historical Commission would have to approve any plans for the building involving its alteration or demolition.

DiCandilo said his organization would seek to lease office space in Center City for the roughly 100 employees who work in the headquarters building, though it would be open to remaining in its current space as a tenant of its new owner.

“Philadelphia’s right in the center” of a service area that extends from northwest Montgomery County to the Jersey Shore, he said. “We need a big presence in Philadelphia.”

The organization aims to have sold the property by the end of June, when its fiscal year concludes, and to be in its new space by August, DiCandilo said.

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