The havoc the economy is playing on developers' ability to secure financing apparently has spoiled Advanta Corp.'s plans for a new headquarters in Upper Dublin Township.
"We were working with a developer to build a building, but they decided they could not do so in this environment," Advanta spokesman David Goodman said yesterday.
With Advanta's lease of 110,000 square feet of corporate office space in Lower Gwynedd Township due to expire in October 2010, it was unclear yesterday what course the financial-services company will take to secure a new headquarters site.
"We're considering our options," Goodman said without elaborating. "We have a number of good options."
He said it had not been determined if Advanta, a credit card issuer to small businesses, would combine all of its regional offices - currently in Lower Gwynedd and Horsham in Pennsylvania; Gibbsboro, N.J.; and Wilmington - into one central location. Advanta, which also has an office in Draper, Utah, had a total workforce of 914 employees as of Dec. 31, 2007, according to its Form 10-K from February of this year.
Advanta's original relocation plan, first introduced to Upper Dublin officials in August, called for construction beginning next year of a four-story, 200,000- square-foot office building. Valued by some estimates at between $30 million and $50 million, it was to include a variety of green features designed "to make it an example of a modern and efficient office building," said Richard Barton, Upper Dublin's director of code enforcement.
To be built at Dreshertown and Dryden Roads, it would be part of what is known as the Prudential Office Campus. The 25-acre site owned by Prudential is one of four or five buildable tracts created about five years ago when more than 100 acres that were part of the insurance company's regional headquarters were subdivided, Barton said. Only one of the resulting parcels has been developed so far, he said.
Township officials and others involved with the Advanta project said it was their understanding that no developer had been selected for that job.
Township Manager Paul Leonard said he learned during a telephone conversation Monday morning with Donna Epstein, an attorney at Advanta, "that they had sought out any number of capable developers in the area to do this and they could not find one that had the appropriate financing available to proceed."
As a result, "Advanta's board had voted not to go ahead with the planned construction," Leonard said he was told by Epstein.
Epstein did not return a call for comment. Goodman had no comment about the board's reported vote.
On Tuesday, Advanta had a letter delivered to the Township Building stating that it "hereby withdraws" its pending application for preliminary plan approval.
Leonard called Advanta's decision "a disappointment."
The last substantial commercial addition to the township, he said, was more than two years ago when 2,000 employees of GMAC Mortgage and GMAC Bank moved to the Fort Washington Office Park.
"I put it in the category of another thing that brings home the reality of these economic times," Leonard said.