Mayor Michael Nutter had hoped to create major drug-company bookends in Philadelphia, with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in Northeast and GlaxoSmithKline in the Navy Yard in the south end of town.
The Teva piece did not work out as planned and is unlikely to, but the Navy Yard piece with GSK has worked out quite well. Nutter discussed that in his remarks to the crowd at the British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia holiday lunch on Dec. 11 at The Ritz Carlton, a block from City Hall. A link to the council site is here.
Nutter told the group he met with GSK chairman Christopher Gent during his recent trip to England and Israel. The trip was meant to foster business relations between the city and those countries.
"In the meeting," Nutter said in an interview afterward, "the chairman re-affirmed the major commitment that GSK has made to Philadelphia. (CEO) Andrew Witty picked that site himself. It was a chance to talk about the great business they are doing here in Philadelphia under the leadership Deirdre Connelly and how they are totally committed to Philadelphia."
As GSK was arriving at the Navy Yard, so to was Iroko Pharmaceuticals, which set up across the street.
The Navy Yard would surely draw more business of all kinds if SEPTA's Orange line subway was extended from its current terminus at Pattison Avenue to the Navy Yard. But SEPTA had to threaten huge service cuts to get what it got from the Republican-controlled state legislature, so it seems unlikely that many in Harrisburg would be happy to contribute to a local-state-federal effort at extending subway service to the Navy Yard.
"Over 10,000 people are working in the Navy Yard and in five or 10 years, there will be 15,000 or 20,000," Nutter said. "Transportation in and out of the Philadelphia Navy Yard is a big issue. Tunneling costs hundreds of millions of dollars, but we should have that conversation. The Navy Yard is the greatest transformation of a closed Naval facility in the country and eventually there will residential development."