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Brandywine to build 47-story FMC Tower in U City

Like I told ya

As I suggested in this Sept. 9 Philadelphia Inquirer story, FMC Corp. has agreed to move its headquarters from 1745 Market St. in Center City into the new tower that Brandywine Realty Trust has been trying to build, NE corner of 30th and Walnut Sts. in University City, for the past 5 years. The $341 million FMC Tower will rise 47 stories -- 650 feet -- and include 575,000 sq ft of offices, 10,000 sq ft of retail -- plus 260 apartments. Adjoins a 2,000-space parking garage built by Brandywine that also serves IRS workers at Brandywine's former 30th St post office nearby.

FMC will move its headquarters staff -- currently 546 bosses and workers -- to the new tower by June 2016, spokesman Jim Fitzwater told me. FMC will lease 253,000 sq ft for 16 years; the University of Pennsylvania will rent another 100,000 sq ft on four floors for 20 years.

Philadelphia beat competing sites in New Jersey and Delaware to keep the headquarters, sweetened by $10 million in Pennsylvania taxpayer incentives, including: $3 million in Pennsylvania First grants, $2 million in Pennsylvania Economic Growth Initiative money, and $5 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). "It's in a Keystone Opportunity Incentive Zone, but we won't pursue those benefits," Fitzwater told me. Instead the company is opting for the up-front cash. Brandywine had arranged state and city 10-year Keystone zone tax breaks on the city's Use and Occupancy and real estate taxes and other levies at the site back in 2008, before a previous tenant proposal fell through.

FMC is a specialty chemical company with global operations and clients. The company's products include pesticides, food and drug additives, pesticides, lithium, and soda ash for glass and detergent.

In my Sept. column, chief executive Pierre Brondeau, a Philadelphia resident and enthusiastic civic booster, said he was fielding offers from all three states, but preferred Philadelphia as a centrally-located city convenient to his workforce and air and land transportatoin. The company has plants in Newark, Del. and suburban Trenton. 

In today's statement, Bondreau praised the location between the Penn and Drexel campuses close by the University City Science Center and said it would make it easier to recruit and keep workers.

The tall curved-glass-walled tower, designed by Pelli Clark Pelli and Bower Lewis Thrower, will tower over the Schuylkill, I-76 and the Amtrak lines along the river.