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Office Space: City gets a 'how-to' do it better

New report IDs areas of waste in city owned, leased properties.

ONE OF THE city's savviest money men says the city could save millions by trimming the fat from the more than 10 million square feet of office space the city owns and leases.

Tom Knox, chairman of the Mayor's Task Force on City-owned Facilities, and Mayor Nutter yesterday presented the task force's report finding the city could save as much as $121 million over five years by better managing its unused office space.

"This is real, serious money," Nutter said.

"This report joins a growing body of work . . . that urges the city to become more data-driven and begin tracking all the costs of maintenance and operations facilities, citywide."

The task force was created by executive order in 2011 to identify areas of waste in space management, building maintenance and utilities operations across the city. It provided a "top 10" list of recommendations on how to lower capital expenses and improve delivery of city services.

"Sometimes, your boss leaves and you decide his office is a lot nicer, so before the next boss comes in, you move into it," said Knox, a self-made millionaire businessman and former candidate for mayor.

"It happens at my own firms, even. We just need to come up with new space standards for the city of Philadelphia, and I think we're starting to do that with this."

Nutter said taking "immediate action" on the recommendations in the report could save the city anywhere from $66 million to $121 million over five years.

"The question is - do we need that amount of space?" Nutter asked.

"All of this is part of true asset management and real-estate assessment. These are practices and policies that can be followed and developed over a long period of time. I'm confident that these measures and others will have a meaningful impact on how the city manages its assets and conducts business."