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Parkway Corp. Says It Has Tenant In Hand For 400K SF Center City Office Development

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Parkway Corp. Says It Has Tenant In Hand For 400K SF Center City Office Development
The parking lot at 20th and Arch streets in Philadelphia, where Parkway Corp. is seeking to build a new headquarters building, as of November 2018

After years without any new office construction starts in Center City, Parkway Corp. is working toward two.

The local developer has won the blessing of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association for a 15-story headquarters building at 20th and Arch streets, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Parkway announced plans for a different ground-up office building at 23rd and Market streets back in March.

At the recent LSNA meeting to discuss the proposal, Parkway Senior Vice President Brian Berson said that the company has a tenant ready to sign a 20-year lease for all 400K SF of the building's office space, though he declined to name it. For the lease to be finalized, City Council would need to pass a zoning change to increase the parcel's allowable height.

Council President Darrell Clarke, whose district encompasses the site, has indicated that he would be open to introducing the necessary legislation if the neighborhood signed off on the project. Thanks to the local tradition of councilmanic prerogative, the rest of council will unanimously approve any zoning legislation a council member introduces for his or her district.

The land at 20th and Arch streets, like much of the land in Parkway's Center City holdings, currently serves as a paid parking lot. It was formerly an Avis rental car location, and part of the property includes a historically protected gas station from the early 20th century. Parkway told the LSNA it will protect and move the building, and that it is working with the Philadelphia Historical Commission to find it a new home. 

Parkway President Robert Zuritsky told the LSNA the tenant was still weighing other options for its headquarters, including potential space in other states as well as another parcel in the city within a Keystone Opportunity Zone, according to the Inquirer. The two KOZs with ample space for corporate headquarters are in University City (where Schuylkill Yards is looking for anchor tenants) and at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The company in question would be open to passing up the tax benefits of a KOZ due to its desire to be centrally located, Zuritsky said. The 20th and Arch site is only a couple of blocks away from Comcast's dual skyscrapers. He also explained that the anonymous tenant already has a presence in Philadelphia but would bring in employees from other offices to the new headquarters.

Zurich-based Chubb Insurance would fit that description, as the Inquirer reports that it is currently looking for new real estate space and has offices in Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey. Chubb owns its current office at 426 Walnut St., and leases extra space a couple of doors down at the former Penn Mutual building. Chubb is the parent company of Insurance Company of North America, which formed in 1792 and was the first firm in the country to insure a building from fire.