By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Plans by Comcast Corporation to build a second massive skyscraper in center city Philadelphia cleared some early hurdles in City Council today, even as a church neighboring the site voiced some misgivings.
The developer of the new Comcast tower, Liberty Property Trust, received approval for five measures in two Council committees that allow the construction to move forward.
Liberty’s CEO, William Hankowsky, said the bills cover a range of issues.
“They allow it to be as tall as it’s going to be, they allow it to be as big, they allow us to extend the concourse under 18th Street so you can go to Suburban Station, and they allow us to widen some of the streets and configure it,” he told KYW Newsradio afterward.
The Comcast tower will rise 59 stories at 18th and Arch Streets, and will be the tallest building in the country outside of New York or Chicago.
The City Council committee hearings did bring one voice of concern: the Rev. William Golderer, of the neighboring Arch Street Presbyterian Church, said the three-year construction will make life difficult for his churchgoers.
“Noise and dirt and traffic disruptions, eliminating street parking, elimination of natural light, risk to the integrity of the property: these are just a few of the areas of highlighted concern,” he said.
Golderer called on the developer to work with the church to minimized those problems, and Hankowsky vowed to do so.
“I think (Rev. Golderer) is appropriately concerned. He’s going to be in the middle of a big project. But we worked very closely with that church in the original Comcast Center. So we have a long, terrific relationship. I totally respect that he wanted to be on the record that we keep that relationship, but I am very comfortable that we will figure out and deal with his concerns,” Hankowsky said.
Still, for the project itself, committee approval of the bills means full-speed-ahead for Hankowsky.
“So, with this action — and now it has to go to the full Council and get approved — it keeps us on our schedule,” he noted. “And our schedule would be to start this project this summer, hopefully around June. And we’ll have people in the building in the fourth quarter of 2017.”
The new Comcast tower is being designed by the famed British architect Norman Foster. In addition to new headquarters space for the cable giant, it will become home to television stations NBC 10 and Telemundo 62 — both now owned by Comcast as part of its purchase of NBC Universal (see related story).
The skyscraper will also include a block-long lobby, an outdoor plaza, and a Four Seasons hotel in the upper floors which will feature a restaurant and a 360-degree view of the city.