May 5, 2016

IBM selling 1 million square feet of Rochester real estate

Posted in Keith Knutsson, Real Estate at 11:20 am by Keith Knutsson

IBM Corp. said Wednesday it will cut a big chunk of its Rochester real estate holdings, selling as much as 1 million square feet of space to an outside developer, as it consolidates employees in its remaining buildings.

Still one of Rochester’s biggest corporate presences despite years of cutbacks, the Armonk, N.Y.-based computing giant said it will retain eight buildings and that the sale would “involve no personnel changes” apart from the moves between buildings. The Rochester Post-Bulletin has the statement and a report on the move.

Gary Smith, president of Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., said that he’ll work with IBM to market the property, and says there is already interest in some of the space; enough to fill about 100,000 square feet.

As for IBM, it’s already designing new office spaces that will encourage collaboration in its remaining buildings.

“I see this as a positive development,” Smith said, noting that much of the space being put up for market was already empty, but had been well-maintained by IBM, and that the move to redesign existing space showed a commitment to the market.

IBM began building the Rochester campus in the mid-1950s, hiring modernist architect Eero Saarinen who covered the buildings in blue panels(a nod to Minnesota’s skies and IBM’s “Big Blue” nickname).

Eventually it grew to more than 3.6 million square feet and 8,000 employees as the city became a manufacturing hub for some of the company’s most powerful supercomputers.

But IBM (NYSE: IBM) moved most of the manufacturing operations out of Rochester in 2013, and was cutting back even before then. Now focused more on cloud and “cognitive computing,” IBM doesn’t say how many employees are currently based in Rochester, but estimates range between 2,000 and 3,000.

As it has cut back, IBM has started leasing out space in the campus to companies such as Charter Communications.


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