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PHILADELPHIA-One of two, possibly three hurdles, is cleared for granting Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone status to the parcel at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard where Malvern, PA-based Liberty Property Trust plans a 1.2-million-sf office tower in which Comcast will lease close to half of the space. The City Council voted 15 to two to approve KOIZ status for the new One Pennsylvania Plaza building. Mayor John Street is expected to approve the measure.

The state finance committee, however, has yet to approve the legislation, which has the backing of Gov. Ed Rendell. State legislators have introduced an alternative plan. If passed, the alternative would have to be approved by the City Council. If state legislators approve the KOIZ, members of the Center City Owners Association vow to continue their fight to block such a designation by taking their case to court.

KOIZ status, which forgives state and city property and business taxes through 2015, was initially created to revitalize blighted areas and bring new business to the city. This land is not blighted, CCOA argues, and Comcast is an existing Center City tenant. It is the largest Center City office tenant, and it has lobbied hard for the KOIZ designation, promising to nearly double its workforce of approximately 1,000 here once the building is completed, and triple its workforce Downtown over the next decade.

Folded into the City Council’s vote was KOIZ status for a new home for the Philadelphia Regional Produce Terminal, which has outgrown its 24-acre site between Packer and Pattison avenues and threatened to move to Camden, NJ. Its merchants association voted to stay in Philadelphia, following assurances that the state would appropriate $150 million for construction of a new facility on Columbus Boulevard and Oregon Avenue and grant it KOIZ status.

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