Civic News

Amid a Philly lab space shortage, Drexel is building a 500K-square-foot life sciences hub

The building is expected to be the largest research and lab facility in the city when it's completed in fall 2024.

A rendering of 3201 Cuthbert St.

(Courtesy image)

Drexel University and Gattuso Development Partners (GDP) announced Monday that they are slated to build a 500,000-square-foot life sciences research and lab building on campus beginning later this year. It’s estimated that the proposed building at 3201 Cuthbert St. near 32nd and JFK Boulevard will be the largest life sciences research lab facility in the city when it’s completed in fall 2024.

At the end of last year, Spark Therapeutics announced a same-size manufacturing facility at 30th and Chestnut streets on Drexel’s F Lot. Both projects are a nod to the ever-growing demand for life sciences space in University City and beyond: As a CBRE report noted in December, Philly real estate isn’t keeping up with life science lab space demand.

GDP is behind the skyline-defining Comcast Center and Comcast Technology Center, as well as 18 new buildings down at the Navy Yard. The company will partner with New York-based Vigilant Real Estate Holdings and Boston-based The Baupost Group on the project.

The proposed half-million-square-foot building will be 11 floors and sit adjacent to the historic Armory on campus. Drexel will occupy about 60,000 square feet, which will house the university’s core research and business development operations, as well as labs that will be used for research space and academic programs. GDP has signed commitments from other life sciences tenants that will represent more than 55% of the available square footage, it said in the announcement.

The building is slated to start construction in fall of this year, and has an estimated completion date of fall 2024. It’s specifically designed to meet life science needs, with an HVAC system specially designed for laboratory research, fully enclosed loading docks, best-practice chemical storage space and pH neutralization capability, five service elevators, and space to be outfitted by incoming tenants.


“As Drexel continues to play a prominent role in creating a vibrant innovation ecosystem in University City, this exciting project will generate more co-op and career opportunities for Drexel students while stimulating more educational and research partnerships with life science companies for our faculty and students,” President John Fry said in a statement.

This project will be GDP’s third life sciences development, including the recent completion of 137,000 square feet for Bay Area-based Iovance Biotherapeutics‘ research and production facility, and the ongoing construction of a 130,000-square-foot cGMP facility, both at the Navy Yard.

“The demand for life science development continues to hold incredible potential for economic growth throughout the city and region,” said John Gattuso, GDP cofounder and CEO. “We see the Drexel project as a catalyst for that growth, which will continue to leverage new private investment and generate jobs as it anchors the next great wave of life sciences development.”

Companies: Drexel University
People: John Fry
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