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GlaxoSmithKline To Move HQ From Navy Yard To Much Smaller Space In FMC Tower

FMC Tower in Philadelphia's University City, seen in November 2020 from the Schuylkill Expressway.

GlaxoSmithKline is punching another major hole in Philadelphia's office market.

The U.K.-based pharmaceutical company is moving its U.S. headquarters out of the build-to-suit office building it has occupied since 2013 to take two floors at the FMC Tower on the Eastern edge of University City, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. In doing so, GSK will shrink its footprint from nearly 208K SF to 46K SF, another indication that more than a year of remote work has permanently affected how companies consider their office space.

GSK signed a 15-year lease with Liberty Property Trust at Five Crescent Drive that runs until 2028, and will attempt to sublease the building once it moves, which it estimates will be early next year, PBJ reports. Liberty sold Five Crescent Drive to Korea Investment Management Co. in 2018 as it divested of its non-industrial properties, before it was acquired by Prologis the next year.

The biotech company, which is also downsizing its presence in North Carolina's Research Triangle, will occupy the 16th and 17th floors of FMC Tower as part of a shuffle at two of Brandywine Realty Trust's trophy properties, PBJ reports. Brandywine will move its corporate headquarters from the two floors that GSK will backfill to Cira Centre, where it will backfill space vacated by law firm Dechert LLP when it shrunk its lease by more than half in April. Brandywine's headquarters had been in Cira Centre before it completed FMC Tower in 2016 and moved in.

In addition to anchor tenant FMC, GSK's new neighbors will include gene therapy darling Spark Therapeutics, the University of Pennsylvania and Nasdaq. With its move, GSK is adding to an already-bloated market for sublease space in Philadelphia as it joins a list of companies making plans for many of their employees to work remotely. Pharmacy chain Rite Aid will soon move its headquarters from rural Pennsylvania to only 23K SF at another building in the Philadelphia Navy Yard

When GSK opened its headquarters at Five Crescent Drive, it helped launch a wave of imitators with its open design and lack of assigned seating or private offices, PBJ reports. Whereas 660 employees populated that building, the workforce at GSK's FMC Tower home will likely top out at 330.

“Our new offices will emphasize team connection, dynamic workflows and recognize a preference for greater flexibility to work from home,” GSK spokesperson Evan Berland told PBJ. “The new spaces will have fewer individual workstations and more areas for informal collaboration, new and more advanced technology.”