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Independence Blue Cross Building Is For Sale, Report Says

Independence Blue Cross Building Is For Sale, Report Says
The Philadelphia skyline, as seen from the south. 1901 Market St. is seen in the background on the left.

Piedmont Realty Trust’s 45-story Philadelphia office tower at 1901 Market St., which health insurer Independence Blue Cross has called home since 1987, is for sale and may fetch around $370M, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The insurer has a lease on the 801K SF building until 2033, along with two 10-year lease extension options, according to the publication. If the projected price proves to be accurate, it will rival last year’s $451.6M purchase of Mellon Bank Center at 1735 Market St. by Silverstein Properties and the Arden Group of Philadelphia. The deal would be among the largest ever in Philadelphia as measured by sales per square foot, the newspaper says. 

Atlanta-based Piedmont, which acquired 1901 Market in 2003 for $174M, has spent $100M on upgrades to the building’s lobby, mechanical systems and an outdoor plaza. The developer has also spruced up the building’s floors to give them a more sleek, modern style and added cafés and other public areas.

Speaking to Wall Street analysts during the company's recent quarterly earnings conference call, Piedmont CEO Brent Smith said the funds the company earns from Philadelphia would be “recycled” into the Dallas market. The company also plans on unloading Two Pierce Place, its only Chicago property, and its two Houston locations in the city’s Energy Corridor during the next two to 24 months. 

Piedmont focuses on office buildings leased on a long-term basis to single tenants. A company spokeswoman declined to comment.