November 22, 2019Philadelphia Business Journal
Steps away from where Seven Tower Bridge will rise on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Conshohocken, Don Pulver marked on Thursday the official ground breaking of the new $112 million, 14-story office tower.
"It took 30 years," he said. Of that, 25 years were spent battling litigation for possession of the site, which had once been owned by the Florig Industrial Co. but condemned by the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority. That move set it up for Pulver to eventually acquire the property but it was met with resistance and lawsuits.
Pulver finally prevailed but Seven Tower hit another road block last year when the entity owning it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Pulver emerged from that controversy, paving the way for it to finally get out of the ground.
The 260,000-square-foot building at 110 Washington St. is the last of the eight buildings envisioned for the Tower Bridge campus that Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corp. started three decades ago. "This particular site I've been looking at since I was a kid," Pulver said.
Little did Pulver know in his youth that he would go on to create one of the most desirable office submarkets in the Philadelphia region that counts some of the country's biggest corporate names as tenants.
When Seven Tower opens in November 2020, Hamilton Lane, an investment with $480 billion in assets under management, will join those firms when it moves its headquarters from Bala Cynwyd into the building. Seven Tower's development will also mean there will be towers on all four corners of the Fayette Street bridge, completing a vision Pulver had for the campus.
Over the years that Pulver has forged ahead with Tower Bridge, the ownership of those office buildings has changed and diversified. American Real Estate Partners of Herndon, Virginia, is one of those new investors to Conshohocken. It bought in late 2018 Eight Tower Bridge for $108 million.
AREP is also co-developing Seven Tower with Pulver along with Partners Group. That arrangement came about after it bought Eight Tower. The company had familiarized itself with the properties surrounding the office building and the undeveloped site in front of it, prompting Doug Fleit, CEO, AREP, to pick up the phone to call Pulver. Fleit asked Pulver if his company could be a partner or of any help when it came to Seven Tower.
"He was immediately embracing," Fleit said. "He needed a lot of equity. We got to together and talked about the benefits and strengths that his company provided and benefits and strengths we could provide. In fact, when he received interest from Hamilton Lane, we naturally began a conversation to work together to make it happen."
AREP, which also owns 1600 Market St. in Center City, is on the hunt for its next office deal in the region. The company's strategy is to invest in markets where tenants want to be as well as have existing amenities and access to transit. "We're looking for opportunities where we can create a tenant experience," Fleit said.
That is among the reasons Hamilton Lane signed a 130,000-square-foot lease at Seven Tower. It has 400 employees and 300 will relocate to the new building in 2021.
In a tight labor market, employers such as Hamilton Lane use its office space as a tool for recruiting and retaining talent. While Seven Tower will have its own menu of amenities, its was the building's proximity to restaurants, near a SEPTA train station within a walkable community that were other reasons the company was attracted to it, said Kevin Lucey, COO of Hamilton Lane.
"As a global footprint, this is home for us," Lucey said. "We're looking very much to our next chapter here in Conshohocken."