Ssshhh - The Comcast Center is open. Sorta.

Comcast corporate isn't officially talking yet about the move-in at Philadelphia's tallest building, a 57-story glass tower that is expected to be completed in 2008.

But quietly, shortly after Thankgiving, employees began moving in, handfuls by the week. Some enter through the front of the building, at 17th and JFK, crossing the wide floor in the glassed-in lobby, visible to passersby on the street.

Others enter through double-glass doors tucked in a quiet corner of Suburban Station, where a small sign says: "TO COMCAST CENTER LOBBY."

"Every week, someone is moving in," said Comcast product manager Sheila Rouse of Glenside.

Rouse is among the employees who step off trains, walk to the quiet corner and buzz themselves through the glass doorway.

Next to their tasteful entrance is another opening, to a long hallway.

Far more workers enter there. They wear sweat shirts, dusty jeans and heavy boots.

Yes, she has worked to the sound of jackhammers, said Marsha Lawton, an analyst for Comcast, as she paused at the double-glass doors.

"Yesterday, it went on for a couple of hours," said Lawton, who moved from Comcast quarters at 1500 Market Street to the center's sixth floor about two weeks ago.

Still, she's glad to be in the new tower.

"It's open. It's real bright. It's cheery," the Lansdowne resident said.

What about the artwork?

"Oh, that's beautiful," she said of the artwork being installed.

"We have a picture of Elvis, and we have a picture of three televisions, abstract," Lawton said of her work area.

One floor down, on five, art is still going up. J.P. Kennedy, director of technical operations, said he was seeing a new picture every day.

Kennedy, of Malvern, is more taken with the cafe on Floor 6.

Rouse was impressed too. "It's a cashless environment," she said.

"You just tap your ID card on a little black device and your purchase is made," Lawton explained.

"Very convenient, also very dangerous," is how Kennedy described it. "Like being in a resort."

Of the new building, he said: "It's been a big step up for us."

That could be taken literally.

At 973 feet, the Comcast Center, expected to be finished by spring at the earliest, will be the tallest building in the country between New York and Chicago.

It also holds the promise of high-end stores, Ellen Weiler of Chestnut Hill said. This morning, the legal assistant slipped out of her office at 17th and Arch Streets, descended into Suburban Station and hurried to the quiet corner.

There, she peered into the double-glass doors. She was reconnoitering for co-workers eager to shop and dine in the stylish new structure. But she found no public face on the Comcast Center.

Disappointed, she returned to her work station, empty-handed.

As for Comcast, a spokesman said the company wasn't ready to discuss the building, saying the structure was incomplete.


Contact staff writer Lea Sitton Stanley at 215-854-2796 or lstanley@phillynews.com.