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PHILADELPHIA-Comcast Corp. has signed a 15.5-year lease for an additional six floors, aggregating 151,646 sf, in Comcast Center, the 1.2-million-sf tower under construction at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. This takes Comcast’s overall lease commitment in the building to 48 floors representing more than one million sf, or 87%.

An additional seven tenants have signed leases in the 58-story tower to take overall preleasing to 91%. When Malvern-based Liberty Property Trust broke ground for the tower in January 2005, Comcast had committed to lease 44% of the space. The following August it upped the ante to 70%. Comcast has option rights on additional space during its lease term and the right to request construction of a second, 250,000-sf office building at the site.

As with Comcast’s previous extension, this one also comes with strings. According to a statement from Liberty, the costs associated with this latest agreement take the developer’s investment in the project to $495 million. The earlier lease-extension, as GlobeSt.com reported, lifted the initial investment from $435 million to $460 million. At that time, an additional floor was inserted into the top of the structure and refinements were made to the lobby and interior spaces.

“There’s nothing that dramatic in the new agreement,” a Liberty spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com. “This is a big project, and there are continuing building refinements.”

David Binswanger, president and CEO of the locally based Binswanger Cos., represented Comcast in lease negotiations. He tells GlobeSt.com, “As it becomes even more of a headquarters, versus a multi-tenant building, Liberty is contributing even more to enhance the building. I think there’s more than a reasonable chance that the building will be full by the time it’s completed,” he adds. He has consistently declined to disclose the value of the agreements or the rental rate, which several brokers, on condition of anonymity, tell GlobeSt.com is in excess of $40 per sf, or better than $12 per sf more than top rates in existing Center City trophy buildings.

In April 2006, Liberty sold the property for $512 million to Liberty/Commerz 1701 JFK Blvd. LP, a joint venture with Dussledorf-based CommerzLeasing und Immobilien AG in which Liberty retains a 20%-stake. Under the terms of that agreement, Liberty is responsible for completion and lease-up of the property. Based on the updated leasing schedule, the developer projects it may have to pay the JV $3.5 million in rent support.

The spokeswoman explains that the projected rent support “has to do with timing in respect to getting tenants into the building. There is now more clarity on when bodies will be in seats and rents will be paid,” she says. Comcast is expected to begin occupying the lower floors this fall. Full completion is scheduled for spring 2008.

The building is constructed to achieve a LEED rating. It includes approximately 24,000 sf of restaurant and retail space, a half-acre public park, a 120-foot-high winter garden and a new entrance to the Suburban Station commuter rail line. As GlobeSt.com previously reported, chefs Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio have committed to opening a 15,777-sf restaurant in the building. Perrier founded the five-star Le Bec Fin here, and both chefs have interests in Brasserie Perrier on Walnut Street and Mia at Caesars in Atlantic City.

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