Room At The Top For One Liberty Place, Tallest Isn't Fullest

Posted: May 28, 1987

One Liberty Place, the 60-story skyscraper nearing completion at 17th and Market Streets, was ceremoniously topped off with a 12-ton, 47-foot-long steel spire yesterday. But despite the milestone, the building's developer is scrambling for tenants.

With its first occupants scheduled to move into the building in August and completion of the city's tallest skyscraper scheduled for November, only two tenants have signed leases and more than one million square feet of space is vacant.

"We have a lot of prospects," Michael Matusewicz, marketing manager for Rouse & Associates, developer of One Liberty Place, said.

One firm Rouse & Associates is still "talking to" is Comcast Corp., the nation's seventh-largest cable-television company.

In April, it was reported that that Comcast was looking to move its headquarters from Bala Cynwyd to Center City and was negotiating with Rouse to lease 60,000 square feet on four floors.

However, David Binswanger, executive vice president of Binswanger Co., a real estate firm advising Comcast on the move, said yesterday that there was no agreement yet.

"They haven't signed anything," Binswanger said. "They are in negotiations but nothing has been concluded yet."

The two tenants who have committed to leasing space in the building are Conrail, the Philadelphia-based freight railroad, which will occupy about 115,000 square feet of space beginning in August, and Hoyle, Morris & Kerr, a law firm that has agreed to lease 63,000 square feet and is set to move in in November.

"Including signed leases and deals upon which we have handshakes or signed letters of intent, we like to think we're 30 percent committed," Matusewicz said.

By November, Rouse expects50 percent of the space in One Liberty is committed.

The construction of One Liberty Place comes when concerns are growing about a glut of office space in Center City. Six new skyscrapers, including One Liberty Place, and several large renovations will add more than seven million feet of space by the end of 1989.

Yesterday's ceremony, in which the final section of the spire was lifted atop the 945-foot building, comes more than two weeks after the topping-off was to have taken place. Earlier, the welds used to secure the structure failed to pass inspection and had to be redone.

Those problems have since been taken care of and workers yesterday lowered by crane the final section of the 146-foot spire into place.

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