Pfizer's hunt for new Manhattan HQ lands on snazzy Spiral skyscraper: report

Pfizer HQ
Selling Pfizer's old headquarters just got a lot more attractive, according to the Post, which said recent rezoning will allow a much taller building to rise in its place, making the site more valuable.

Pfizer, Manhattan’s hometown drug giant, has settled on brand-new digs near the Hudson River. And they’ll be quite an improvement over its current 1960s-era headquarters near Grand Central Station.

The drugmaker plans to pick up and move its thousands of HQ staff into a glitzy skyscraper dubbed The Spiral, the New York Post reports. Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the glass-curtained building with its upward-climbing ring of terraces is planned for a site in the Hudson Yards development.

Anyone who’s walked past Pfizer’s world headquarters on 42nd Street knows that the 34-story building has seen better days, and the company started its hunt last year, planning to identify a new spot while selling its current home. The goal was to sell by the end of this year and move to “a new, more modern” home by 2019, spokeswoman Joan Campion told FiercePharma at the time.

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Campion said on Friday that Pfizer can't comment yet on the fruits of its headquarters search. "We are still in the process and expect to have something to announce either later this year or early 2018," she said.

Selling just got a lot more attractive, too, according to the Post’s sources, who said that a recent rezoning in Midtown will allow a much taller building to rise on the Pfizer site. And that, of course, makes the ground itself more valuable.

In picking The Spiral, Pfizer will be playing a role in the shifting New York skyline. The Spiral is a 2.85-million-square-foot project, and according to the Post, Pfizer plans to take 800,000 square feet of it—a commitment that will help developer Tishman Speyer get its building out of blueprints and into reality.

That’s definitely new, and as for modern, The Spiral’s website showcases its “column-free floorplates” that allow for wide-open floor plans. That type of open, flexible space is a trend in pharma (and elsewhere) as companies try to foster collaboration, slim down their real estate footprints and provide landing spaces for their roving workforces. GlaxoSmithKline, Allergan, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Roche are among the drugmakers who've planned or made moves to new buildings in the same vein.

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A “substantial majority” of Pfizer’s headquarters staff will work in the new offices after the move, Campion said, though “some colleagues—based on where their teams are ultimately located—may move to Pfizer's other facilities in the metropolitan area.”

Pfizer's current headquarters, which it has called home since 1961, comprises 1 million square feet of space, 200,000 more than the new lease.

The move comes at a time when Pfizer is eyeing M&A to augment future growth. The company hasn't ruled out a megamerger, but says it is shopping for deals of all sizes. The drugmaker is also shelling out big money on other facilities; it's said to be looking at a $100 million investment in gene therapy manufacturing in North Carolina, near its recently acquired biotech Bamboo Therapeutics, and announced a $200 million vaccines expansion in Massachusetts last year.