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PHILADELPHIA-Locally based Urban Outfitters Inc. will relocate its corporate headquarters from 1809 Walnut St., adjacent its flagship Anthropologie store, to the 1,200-acre Navy Yard site along the Delaware River at the foot of South Broad St. The full terms of the deal are undisclosed, but both the retailer and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., which owns the site and is responsible for converting it into a mixed-use development, will make substantial investments in the property.

The initial Urban Outfitters’ campus will encompass six existing, 19th Century, former shipyard workshop buildings on Kitty Hawk Ave. that have an aggregate of 287,000 sf. They are on the national registry of historic buildings. PIDC has renovated one of the six industrial buildings for approximately $8 million. John Grady, SVP of PIDC, tells GlobeSt.com the retailer will lease that property from PIDC and buy the other five buildings “fee simple.”

Urban Outfitters is responsible for restoring the other five industrial buildings, which Grady says, “are basically shells. They will be renovated according to historic registry guidelines and estimated the retailers’ total renovation investment at about $40 million, “or in excess of $150 per sf.” Completion will take place over the next three years.

PIDC has agreed to invest another $5 million to upgrade the land surrounding the buildings. In addition, Grady says it is creating a public area along the waterfront, “which will eventually provide a 2.5-mile-stretch of parkland for the Navy Yard, not limited to, but accessible from the Urban Outfitters’ campus.”

Under the agreement, Urban Outfitters also has an option to buy two riverfront houses at the Navy Yard that were once used as officers’ residences. Two additional industrial buildings on the river may be added to the plan in the future.

Richard A. Hayne, chairman and president of the retail firm that operates Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People stores worldwide, says the company has not yet determined exactly how each building will be used. However, one will be corporate headquarters and each of the company’s three brands would have its own building. He also speculated that the two residences might be turned into a day care center, a conference facility and/or a bed and breakfast for visitors. The retailer also plans to develop lunch areas and other employee amenities.

The retailer’s current headquarters includes approximately 35,000 sf at 1801 Walnut St. and approximately 20,000 sf at 235 South 17th St., plus other small spaces throughout Center City. The corporate staff numbers about 500 people. It operates 71 Urban Outfitters stores in the US, Canada and Europe, 62 Anthropologie stores in the US, and a single Free People unit in Paramus, NJ. The latter was initially designed to showcase the company’s Free People wholesale line, but is targeted for expansion into another retail brand. The company also sells through catalogs and over the Internet. Total annual sales are approximately $584 million, and earnings and net sales for the third quarter of this year rose 85% and 52%, respectively, compared with the same quarter a year ago.

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