Philadelphia: birthplace of America, heart of the Delaware Valley and Pennsylvania’s largest city. Although no Philadelphia properties made it onto our list of top 100 taxpaying properties in the U.S., the region’s historic and economic importance makes it well worth a look. A report released last year by the Delaware Regional Valley Planning Commission shows Philadelphia to be the sixth-most diverse economy in the country—one that investors are certainly not shying away from. We combed through PropertyShark data and county public records and put together a list of the top 10 taxpaying properties in the city.
Chicago-based Equity Commonwealth has three Philadelphia properties listed in its Class A portfolio. Two of these—Center Square and 1735 Market — take up the first and second spots in our top 10 and the property taxes they commanded last year amounted to just over $6.7 million. Pennsylvania-based Brandywine Realty Trust’s national portfolio boasts 10 Philadelphia office properties, three of which are among Philly’s top 10 taxpaying properties, together commanding $7 million in property taxes in 2016 (spots 5, 6 and 9).
Of course, the property tax landscape would be different if we had not left out the non-taxpaying properties that we came across during our research. For instance, we would be looking at a different property in the number one spot—the Comcast Center was built in 2008 and received a 10-year tax abatement. Once that expires, the building towering above John F. Kennedy Boulevard would command an estimated $4.7 million in 2018 property taxes.
Mapping out Philly’s top 10 taxpaying buildings
Center City truly is a hotspot for class on the Philadelphia real estate market. Nine of the top 10 taxpaying properties on our list are huddled in the heart of town and seven of these are on the same street. Perhaps if Philadelphia Mall had enough room in the inner city, it would join the club. Read on to find out more about the Philadelphia buildings that ranked as the city’s top 10 highest taxpaying properties of 2016.
#1. Center Square – $3,457,506 in property taxes in 2016
Philadelphia’s top taxpaying property is a twin high-rise complex. Center Square East and Center Square West were built together and completed in the early 1970s. The $80 million project opened with First Pennsylvania Bank as the principal tenant. The ambitious Jack Wolgin development is credited with having shifted Philadelphia’s downtown office district from South Broad Street to West Market Street.
Center Square is also well known in the art world—the art installed around the office complex sparked Philadelphia’s reputation as a promoter of public art. Perhaps the best known piece is Claes Oldenburg’s 45-foot weathered metal sculpture Clothespin, installed in front of the building, atop the subway entrance.
#2. 1735 Market – $3,255,596 in property taxes in 2016
Trivia Tidbit The 1735 Market building’s lobby made an appearance in the 1993 film Philadelphia
Right across the street from the Comcast Center, the office building formerly known as Bank of New York Mellon Center is built on the site of Philadelphia’s former Greyhound bus terminal.
Completed in 1990, the 54-story Center City office building is one of three office properties owned by Equity Commonwealth in Philadelphia.
Most of the region’s commuter trains stop at Suburban Station, which is located within walking distance of 1735 Market. In addition to the excellent connectivity, the iconic building is rich in amenities that are available to its high-profile tenants.
The roster features major financial institutions, leading law and consulting firms, as well as energy companies. The directory includes names like Philadelphia Energy Solutions, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Goldman, Sachs & Co.
1753 Market is also home to the Pyramid Club—a private business club residing at the “top of town” on the 52nd floor, with access to spectacular views of Center City. For over 20 years, the Pyramid club has served Philly’s business, social, cultural, academic and political scenes as a first class venue.
#3. One Liberty Place – $2,907,574 in property taxes in 2016
One of the most easily recognizable features on the Philadelphia skyline is the silver spire atop One Liberty Place.
Currently owned by Metropolis Investment Holdings and managed by Cushman & Wakefield, the skyscraper at 1650 Market Street was quite the subject of scandal when it was originally built in 1986—it was to be the first building that would rise higher than the statue of William Penn on top of Philadelphia City Hall, thus breaking an unwritten rule of construction in the city and garnering criticism from those who felt that Philadelphia owed its livability and charm to its low profile.
Topped out in 1986 at 61 stories, One Liberty Place became the tallest building in Pennsylvania. It was just phase one of the Liberty Place complex and was followed by the 58-story Two Liberty Place, the 2-story retail annex Shops at Liberty Place and a 14-story hotel.
Today, Liberty Place is celebrated as the most “viewtiful” of Philadelphia’s attractions—the 57th floor of One Liberty Place houses a unique observation deck, which offers 360-degree views of the city and beyond.
#4. Philadelphia Marriott Downtown – $2,851,801 in property taxes in 2016
Philadelphia’s fourth-highest taxpaying property is the only hotel to make it into our top 10. Assessed at just over $200 million, this is the sixth-largest Marriott in the U.S.
Located within eight blocks of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and connected to the Pennsylvania Convention Center by skywalk, it seems that this top taxpaying hotel could not be better situated.
The 1,400-key hotel is packed with convenience: high-speed internet, heated indoor pool, fitness center, full-service business center complete with 92,000 square feet of event space, on-site Starbucks coffee house, American cuisine-oriented on-site dining—and did we mention that it is right in the middle of Center City Philadelphia?
#5 & #6 Commerce Square Towers – $4,875,970 in property taxes in 2016
Towering 41 stories above Market Street, the 1986 trophy office complex takes up an entire city block. Together, One Commerce Square and Two Commerce Square account for just under 1.9 million square feet of Center City Philadelphia office space.
Constructed during Philadelphia’s 1980s office-building boom on West Market Street, the twin towers are part of Brandywine Realty Trust’s Philadelphia office portfolio. Following intensive upgrade efforts undertaken by BRT, both buildings are now LEED-Silver certified and Energy Star rated.
The Commerce Square complex features one of Philadelphia’s unique amenities—the central outdoor courtyard includes a 25-foot-by-25-foot media wall that displays both tenant- and community-oriented content.
#7. 1818 Market – $2,379,660 in property taxes in 2016
Completed in 1976, the 40-story office building was the tallest construction in the city outside of Philadelphia City Hall, as it was just 48 feet shy of the top of William Penn’s hat. The height reign of both buildings ended when the unofficial height restriction was broken by the construction of One Liberty Place.
Now owned by San Diego-based Shorenstein Properties, the office building is undergoing another round of renovation and improvements. Despite the $2.3 million in property tax, this Philadelphia Central Business District office building is deemed well worth the investment.
#8. Philadelphia Mills – $2,284,670 in property taxes in 2016
The one property outside Center City Philadelphia is also the only retail property to make it into our top 10. Built on the former site of Liberty Bell Park Racetrack, the shopping center originally opened in 1989. It was named Franklin Mills, for Benjamin Franklin, and it was built in the shape of a thunderbolt in commemoration of his kite-and-key experiment.
Current owner Simon Property Group changed the name of the retail property to Philadelphia Mills in 2014. Operating over 200 popular stores and anchored by seven major tenants, the Northeast Philadelphia shopping center is well equipped to serve the Philadelphia retail market.
#9. Three Logan Square – $2,193,632 in property taxes in 2016
One of only three properties on our list to not have an address on Market Street, the 57-story, 1 million-square-foot office tower located at 1717 Arch Street is another property in the Brandywine Realty Trust Philadelphia portfolio. Formerly known as the Bell Atlantic Tower, the red granite Philadelphia skyline staple overlooks the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the namesake public square. BRT renamed the property to better identify its location near the 30-story One Logan Square and the 34-story Two Logan Square. The tallest member of the trio also features an observation deck, which, although located six floors lower than One Liberty Place’s, is high enough to offer sweeping views of Philadelphia.
#10. Two Liberty Place – $2,144,516 in property taxes in 2016
Unlike the Commerce Square twin towers, the Liberty Place high rises are further apart in the property tax charts. Completed four years after One Liberty Place and topped out at three stories shorter, Two Liberty Place rounds out our top 10.
The $2 million property tax is not all that’s special about this building—in 2007, The Falcone Group and America’s Capital Partners set out to convert roughly 400,000 square feet of the 1 million-square-foot office building into 122 residential condos. Not the first office-to-residential conversion, but certainly rare in the case of a premier downtown office tower.
Both the office tenants and the residential occupants of Philadelphia’s tallest mixed-use building enjoy immediate access to The Shops at Liberty Place, as well as the wealth of upscale Center City amenities.
- Datasource: Property Shark and proprietary research (download raw data)
- 2015 and 2016 Tax Values verified with the Philadelphia County Property Assessment Office website
- Results which could be verified with the City of Philadelphia Assessor page were not included in the list
- Results that are tax exempt were not included in the list
- Search was based on individual parcels
- Two Liberty Place* tax value is composed of a sum of 3 parcels: 1601 Chestnut St #A, 1601 Chestnut St #B, 1601 Chestnut St #C