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Behind The Numbers: Thermo Fisher Looks To Sell Downtown Building

By Johanna F. Still and Cece Nunn, posted Jul 7, 2022
Pharmaceutical giant Thermo Fisher Scientific announced in April that it plans to explore opportunities to sell Wilmington’s tallest building.
 
The 380,000-square-foot, 12-story structure at 929 N. Front St. overlooking the Cape Fear and Northern Cape Fear rivers had served as PPD’s corporate headquarters since it opened in 2007. Thermo Fisher purchased PPD last year in a $17.4-billion deal.
 
The scientific service leader is embarking on a multi-year effort, which includes plans to seek new office space in Wilmington. The shift “will enable this business to better match current and future workspace needs with flexible work models,” officials stated in a news release.
 
Thermo Fisher’s move is indicative of an international trend whereby companies are reassessing their use of office space in the context of rising remote capabilities. The company is currently in the early stage of considering new office space opportunities, according to a release, and “remains committed to Wilmington.”
 
David Johnston, Thermo Fisher’s senior vice president and president of clinical research, said a significant percentage of the company’s 1,700 Wilmington employees and prospective candidates prefer a hybrid working model. This involves coming into the office for collaboration purposes, “which necessitates more flexible workspaces and fewer dedicated offices.”
 
“We have been proud of our Wilmington building since it opened in 2007, and, as we consider the evolving needs of our workforce and business, we believe this is the right time to establish a new location to serve our colleagues, customers and visitors,” Johnston said in a release.
 
Speculation about what will become of the former PPD headquarters has included the possibility of a mixed-use development with a housing component. Architect Steve Smith said he would be surprised if the landmark structure doesn’t remain an office building.
 
“The design of the building has predominantly column-free space providing tremendous flexibility in office planning and layouts,” said Smith, an architect whose firm, Cooper Carry, was a master planner and design architect for the PPD headquarters. “I don’t think the life of this building as an office building is over by any means.”
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