Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Shire Considers Other Options to Chesterbrook . . . Please don’t leave!

The struggles with vacant corporate buildings and empty storefronts are no different in Tredyffrin Township than other parts of the region and across the country. In Tredyffrin, we have come to depend on a few of our corporate friends, those companies that have stepped up and helped the community over and over again.

One of those supportive, community-spirited corporate companies is Shire, an international pharmaceutical company whose headquarters are in Chesterbrook Corporate Center. Shire was instrumental in supporting the Wilson Farm Park opening, Tredyffrin 300 celebration, the annual summer concert program, etc. The list goes on and on with their community involvement to our township.

So it was very unsettling to read in the Daily Local the headlines ‘Shire considers alternatives to Chesterbrook’. Shire employs 1,100 in their corporate headquarters in Chesterbrook and leases four buildings from Liberty Property Trust, Pitcairn and Wells REIT. Shire currently leases 400,000 – 450,000 of office space in Tredyffrin. The company is in the early discussion stage on whether they should stay in Chesterbrook or find new headquarters when the first of their leases expires in 2016. Shire re-located to Chesterbrook in 2004 and signed an initial 12-year lease for their building.

The pharmaceutical giant has its global headquarter in Dublin, Ireland but according to the article; the company is committed to staying in the Philadelphia area. A representative for the company dismissed the suggestion that exploring other locations could be an attempt to “start a bidding war between competing states that would result in it receiving more government incentives.”

At this point, maybe the idea that Shire is ‘just looking’ at other options should not be reason for alarm or concern. Certainly Shire, like any company has to look at what makes good business sense. But reading this article, made me again think about the township’s Economic Development Committee – here is a case where this committee needs to move forward. I would suggest a proactive approach with Shire. Not only do Shire and its employees contribute greatly to the local economy through corporate building leases, real estate purchases by employees, etc., I would bet that this company has contributed more financially to the community through their generous sponsorships than other company in the township.

I suggest there needs to be a real push and incentive to have Shire keep its headquarters in Chesterbrook.

Economic Development Committee . . . where are you? Wouldn’t this be the time to reach out to Shire?

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  1. Valid concern — but what kind of incentives would you suggest? This is all about the lease I would imagine. WHen developers do P&Ls for financing for new buildings, they project occupancy rates. So look around this region and find some relatively new, under-occupied buildings to see where the carrots are coming from. In the alternative, with tax incentives creating artificial supply (building green buildings, transportation centers etc.) a new building typically needs a major tenant as an anchor to trigger the private funding. So it’s conceivable that some of these “initiatives” could be luring Shire executives to consider their sites. 12 years is about enough time to want major environmental modifications to a site …and the building owners will have to pony up to retain the tenants who are being lured (all hypothetical obviously) by people who may be paying much less for the cost of capital. Does our LOCAL government have the ability to offer an incentive? I’m doubtful. I have always heard that PA has this constitutional thing against unequal tax rates .

  2. The split between four buildings is probably a significant problem for Shire. I wonder if that can be addressed in Tredyffrin?

  3. Tredyffrin faced a similar challenge when Vanguard moved from Chesterbrook. So, hopefully this one will result similarly. Perhaps there were lessons learned there that can be applied here as well.

    Factors that may be in play today …

    Taxes. It probably does not help that TE is considering an EIT at the moment. Tredyffrin has a good history on taxes, so hopefully Shire will consider this.

    Shopping. Chesterbrook Village Shopping Center seems to be dying. It’s a shame. A vibrant shopping center with plenty of lunch and convenience shopping options close to Shire would probably help. Can’t Centro bring this center back from the brink?

    Traffic. Anybody who has been in the line of traffic exiting Chesterbrook ^5 pm understands this.

    Ownership. Matthew Emmons, the former CEO of Shire had roots in Tredyffrin. (Before Shire, he was CEO of Astra Merck, which was headquartered in the same buidlings. And, I believe he was/is a township resident.) The new CEO, Angus Russell, probably does not feel such ties to the township.

    … Finally, I agree with Ray that shuttling between four buildings is also a problem. I see that Chesterbrook has site plans for a new building, on Morris Drive I believe. It’s next door to the large building that Shire recently leased. Perhaps the township and Pitcairn Properties can persuade Shire to build their new shiny building there.

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