IBM Plans to Vacate, Sell Somers Campus

John Jordan | May 2016

IBM Somers

SOMERS—IBM is planning to relocate its workforce at its Somers complex to North Castle by the spring of 2017 and put that multi-building 1.2-million-square-foot complex on more than 700 acres on the market for sale.

The company plans to also undertake capital improvements to modernize its original corporate headquarters building of approximately 420,000 square feet in connection with the space consolidation program. The original headquarters “IBM North Castle” is located adjacent to its existing headquarters building in Armonk, which is less than 300,000 square feet in size.

“IBM is transforming the company to meet the needs of a changing world and the emerging needs of our clients. As a result, IBM is transforming the way our teams work as we become a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company,” said IBM spokesman Doug Shelton in a prepared statement. “That’s why we will be moving all our employees in Somers, many of whom work in solitary offices, to modern, open work spaces at our facility in North Castle by March 2017.”

He continued, “IBMers want to work in agile, collaborative work environments—like the original development team for our Watson system, which worked in an open setting at our Yorktown Research headquarters. IBM Somers real estate holdings will be sold to an outside developer.”

The 1.2 million-square-foot I.M. Pei-designed complex was built in the mid 1980s. IBM’s Shelton said that the company has not identified any outside developer/buyer for the Somers property as yet.

Shelton added that IBM will make what he termed “a significant investment” in its North Castle facility to create a collaborative workspace environment. Those improvements “will provide the tools, technology and amenities to support this new way of working. This will enable faster innovation, a contemporary work environment, and meaningful results for IBM and our clients,” he added.

While IBM did not release how many employees would be affected by the move, Shelton did say that IBM’s employee headcount in Westchester “will remain about the same at the end of the year, as it is now”.

The news is another blow for the Town of Somers, which also saw PepsiCo move out of its nearly 550,000-square-foot complex recently in a consolidation to its headquarters in Purchase. Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey said that the decision by IBM “did not come as a surprise to Somers,” noting that IBM has requested tax reductions on the property in the past due to lower occupancy levels. The PepsiCo property has been sold to an entity called One P. Way, which is attempting to reposition the vacant property, according to Supervisor Morrissey.

Supervisors Morrissey said that he was informed on Monday by an IBM representative of its plans for the Somers property and was told that while the North Castle building was being modernized, IBM plans to relocate some workers there to the Somers complex. The plan is to vacate the Somers complex and relocate all employees to the North Castle building upon the project’s completion, he says.

The Somers Record reported on Monday that IBM sent a memo to its employees at the Somers complex on Monday detailing its plans. The memo obtained by Real Estate In-Depth  from a source, detailed the company’s modernization plans at the North Castle facility and its plans to sell its Somers real estate footprint.

“To enable the renovation, investment and modernization of North Castle, some IBMers in North Castle will temporarily move to Somers so that by March next year the North Castle site will be ready to welcome everyone from Somers. We know that this is a major change, and we will be working very hard to make the process of changes as smooth as possible,” IBM stated in the memo to its Somers employees.

Photo Caption: IBM plans to vacate its Somers campus by March 2017.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth