Our opinion: Pitching in on a tall order

By 2017, the state you call your home will also be home to the tallest building in the United States outside of New York and Chicago.

It will be built in Philadelphia.

And, just to show your pride, you have made a contribution toward its construction.

You didn’t know you made a contribution toward building a skyscraper in Philadelphia? Well, it wasn’t much. Totalling $30 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it only amounts to a few cents per individual taxpayer. And, the people who pay taxes in Philadelphia kicked in another 10 big ones at the same time their school system faces a $100 million deficit and is asking the city and state taxpayers (you) to help fill that gap.

But, back to the sparkling architectural behemoth that will be Comcast Corporation’s Technology and Innovation Center.

Comcast already has the tallest existing building in Philadelphia, the Comcast Center at One Pennsylvania Plaza (58 stories, 978 feet vertically). It is the company’s headquarters.

If you’re not familiar with Comcast, it is the world’s largest mass media and communications company by revenue, totalling a bit more than $62.5 billion ($6.2 billion net) in 2012. So, you can see it needs the help.

Getting government to foot part of the bill is nothing new to Comcast or Liberty Property Trust, the developer of the Comcast Center and the even taller (1,121 feet) ediface to be constructed at 1800 Arch St. When the first was built, the Commonwealth kicked in $42.75 million toward its construction, which topped out in June 2007.

You see, government contributions to massive corporations are de rigueur in this modern age of public-private partnerships fueled by the fear, often reinforced by the private side, that if the contributions to the project aren’t forthcoming, the project could go elsewhere, where public officials are more “friendly.”

This wasn’t the case, say, during the Great Depression, when private funds built both the Empire State and Chrysler buildings in New York City.

That spirit remains in Warren, however. Northwest Savings Bank, headquartered here, didn’t ask the city or the state to kick in when it greatly expanded its footprint, a construction process that is now virtually complete.

Nevertheless, we thought we’d let you know that if you happen to be holding your grandchild’s hand while standing on the sidewalk in front of 1800 Arch St. in Philadelphia four years hence, you can point skyward and proclaim with pride: “Your Gram helped build this.”