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Pharmacy Chain With Over 2,400 Locations Going 'Remote-First,' Only Taking 23K SF For New Philly HQ


Rite Aid, the pharmacy chain with the fourth-most locations in the U.S., is moving its headquarters to Philadelphia, but the specifics of its decision might be more like bad news to those invested in the office market.

Based for years in the small, Central Pennsylvania town of Camp Hill, Rite Aid will be moving into 24K SF at 1200 Intrepid Blvd., a 92K SF office building within the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. The company announced that it was moving on Tuesday in a press release that laid out what its new headquarters will be used for — and it won't be offices.

The new headquarters will demonstrate "a remote-first work approach for corporate associates, supported by a network of collaboration centers throughout the company’s geographic footprint," the release stated.

At its new headquarters, which is scheduled to open in the first half of next year, Rite Aid will have meeting rooms, collaboration and event spaces rather than offices, according to the announcement. No set number of employees will work out of the office among Rite Aid's 2,800 corporate employees.

As the coronavirus pandemic's refusal to recede has kept employees out of offices for longer and longer, the discussion around how or if to return to in-person work has become more fraught. Whatever long-term future office work will have, a hybrid approach seems increasingly likely to play a major part. For companies that are embracing remote work, a headquarters could become more like a central gathering space than a place for day-to-day work.

The 1200 Intrepid building is among the modern office buildings developed by Liberty Property Trust as part of the Philadelphia Navy Yard's initial revitalization from its military-industrial history. Liberty exited its role as the Navy Yard's master developer in its pivot away from office buildings, which eventually led to its acquisition by industrial giant Prologis.

Now, 1200 Intrepid is owned by Ensemble Real Estate Investments, which joined with Mosaic Development Partners to replace Liberty and take the Navy Yard into its next phase. That phase will include a 611-unit multifamily complex with 26K SF of retail, scheduled to break ground next year.