Economics / Philadelphia / Real estate / Resources / Science

Here’s a comprehensive look at all the development projects happening in University City

After a year of bang-up growth in 2019, take a look at the major real estate projects underway.

A look at development across University City. (Image via "The State of University City 2021" report)
One of the fastest-growing corridors in Philadelphia — thanks to a booming life sciences sector and ever-expanding higher ed institutions — is the stretch along and adjacent to Market Street in University City.

This fall, the region was named seventh in the country for top life sciences clusters, based on the region’s life sciences job base, the amount of lab space inventory and the amount of funding it attracts from investors and the National Institutes of Health.

We’ve ranked above New York City, Seattle and Los Angeles, and while Philly already had a lot of momentum in this industry, CBRE EVP Bob Zwengler told in October that the pandemic has pushed this acceleration even further. Some of the city’s largest life science tenants include Century Therapeutics in University City, with 32,000 square feet. The city has also seen an increase in construction with projects like One uCity Square, a mixed lab and office space coming early next year.

So where does University City stand when it comes to development? Each time you visit, the skyline might look a little different. That’s not just your imagination, as economic development nonprofit University City District shows in a recently released “State of University City 2021” report on the real estate development, higher education, innovation and “road to recovery” that the neighborhood currently has in the works.

Read the report

More than 900,000 square feet of new development was added to University City’s inventory in 2019, the report found, and 29 development projects were underway. Take a look at what was recently added, and what residents and workers alike can expect from the neighborhood in the next few years:

Academic space

  • Arlen Specter U.S. Squash Center at the Drexel Armory: This center features 20 squash courts, a learning and innovation center, and the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame, to be completed some time this winter at 3205 Lancaster Ave.
  • Drexel Academic Tower: This 450,000-square-foot academic and research building, when completed near 36th and Market streets in spring 2022, will be home to the College of Nursing and Health Professionals.
  • Powel-Science Leadership Academy: This K-8 public school will be a combination of the existing Powel School and the new Science Leadership Academy. It’s expected to be completed by the end of 2020 at 3610 Warren St., and is a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Drexel University.
  • Tangen Hall: This building at 40th and Sansom streets at University of Pennsylvania will house the Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship and Wharton Small Business Development staff and will host incubator spaces for student-led ventures. It was set to be completed last month.
  • Vagelos Laboratory for Energy Science and Technology: Penn will build a $173 million home for interdisciplinary work advancing sustainability with 110,000 square feet of lab space and offices. Projected completion is fall 2024 at 3200 Walnut St.
  • Wharton Academic Research Building: This building will link to the south side of Steinberg HallDietrch Hall and include four floors of academic and research space. It was estimated to be completed by last month at 37th and Spruce streets.

Commercial space

  • 3000 Market St.: Brandywine Realty Trust announced the redevelopment of this building on 3oth and Market streets, which will be fully leased to Spark Therapeutics, projected late next year.
  • 3151 Market St.: This purpose-built life sciences building from Brandywine is expected in 2023 and will offer full floors of intensive chemical and biological lab use.
  • 3.0 University Place: This 250,000-square-foot life sciences building with lab and office space, developed by University Place Associates (UPA) and Silverstein Properties, is expected in fall 2022.
  • 4.0 University Place: The UPA-developed 300,000-square-foot lab and office space is coming to 40th and Market streets, with no known end date.
  • University City ACME: The ACME market at 40th and Walnut streets opened in fall 2020 after previously being occupied by a Fresh Grocer.
  • Bulletin Building: This Brandywine-developed project will transform the existing design at 30th and Market streets to a “high-performing work environment.” Work space was leased to Spark Therapeutics and Drexel, and the project was completed in the second half of this year.
  • JFK East Tower at Schuylkill Yards: This tower will introduce 34 floors of office and lab space plus mixed retail and “luxury amenity” level which will open up to Drexel Square. No estimated completion date yet for the 30 Street and JFK Blvd. project.
  • JFK West Tower: This tower, across from JFK East, will offer mixed use office, life science, residential and retail uses, is set to be completed in Q2 of 2023.
  • The Lab at Pennovation Works: The 65,000-square-foot, multi-tenant lab and office space within Pennovation Works in Grays Ferry caters to growing companies. It was completed fall of 2020.
  • One uCity Square: This commercial lab and office building that broke ground earlier this year is expected to open its doors in 2022 near 38th and Market streets.

Medical space

  • The Hub for Clinical Collaboration: This 17-story building will house workspace for physicians and admin staff of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and is slated to be completed in 2022 at 3500 Civic Center Blvd.
  • The Pavilion at Penn Medicine: This Penn hospital being built on Penn Medicine’s campus will be the largest capital project in Penn’s history at 1.5 million square feet. It’s expected to be completed on Civic Center Boulevard in 2021.
  • The Provident Building: This building offers up to 90,000 square feet of contiguous spaces ideal for medical, clinical educational and commercial use at 46th and Market streets. It’s expected to be completed in winter 2021.

Public space

  • The Lawn at uCity Square: This 25,000-foot, pop-up green space at the intersection of Silbert and 37th street was designed by University City District and landscaped by the org’s Green City Works. It was completed in fall 2019.
  • The Square at uCity Square: This 45,000-square-foot park is under construction near 38th and Market streets will offer retail frontage, green and concrete spaces, along with seating, regular events and restaurants and shops. It’s expected in fall 2022.
  • Street Mural at uCity Square: This mural, designed by local artists on 37th Street between Warren and Lancaster, will be completed in spring 2021.
  • Weitzman Plaza: This plaza at Penn will sit between Meyerson Hall and Fischer Fine Arts Library, and is set to be completed next month.

Residential and mixed-use space

  • 3700 Lancaster: This 460-unit residential project, named after its address, will stand six stories tall, and offer a mix of studios through three-bedroom apartments. It also offers 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and will be completed in fall of 2021.
  • 4001-4003 Chestnut Street: Penn is renovating this existing building for retail and office space, as well as flexible-term studio apartments. It was expected to be completed this fall.
  • The Chestnut at University City: This 30-story, 405-unit apartment building sits between Chestnut and Sansom streets near 37th Street. It was completed this summer.
  • Garden Court Plaza: Two hundred-twenty residential units will exist in this new tower, which will use similar materials and design features of an existing tower at 47th and Pine streets. Expected to be completed in 2022.
  • New College House West: This building was designed for Penn undergrads with 450 beds, dining services and lounge, studying and seminar rooms. The project, at 40th and Walnut streets, is set to be completed August 2021.
  • University Meeting and Guest House: This existing structure at 38th and Walnut street is being repurposed by Penn as a supplemental office, conference and hoteling space next to the President’s House. It will be completed in March 2021.
Companies: Spark Therapeutics / Brandywine Realty Trust / Drexel University / University City District / University of Pennsylvania

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