Thursday, August 18, 2016

Office/Residential Tower to Rise at 2400 Market St

The Marketplace Design Center building at 2400 Market Street is undergoing a massive overhaul that will become a mixed-use development with a 15-story residential tower added on top of the existing building. There will also be retail and creative office space below, a grocery store, restaurant, and coffee shop.

PMC Property Group plans to redevelop the block-wide building into a 19-story office and residential complex, the latest sign that Philadelphia's most aggressive development is shifting west.

Plans include 450,000 square feet of offices and 350 apartments in a building that uses the former interior design showroom center as its base.

The project comes amid rapid development directly across the Schuylkill around 30th Street Station, where the 47-story FMC Tower is rising.

"The Schuylkill is going to become the new center of Philadelphia."

PMC hopes to capture current high office and apartment rents with the project, which is expected to cost more than $250 million. Asking rents for Class A office space in the west Market Street business district exceeded an average of $30 per square foot during the last three months of 2015, up 3.3 percent from the year-ago period.

Residential rents in Center City's highest-end apartment towers, meanwhile, averaged $2,191 a month last year, and a 3.1 percent rise over 2014.

PMC's plans 2400 Market St. call for six floors of offices, filling the existing structure - which will be re-skinned - and a glass-walled addition to be built on top. The building's residential portion would be built over the offices.

The company is in talks with several office users, some of which may be interested in leasing entire floors of the building, each of which is about 60,000 square feet. One such tenant would also have access to an attached outdoor deck.

The building's ground floor, meanwhile, would accommodate retail services such as restaurants, coffee shops, or fitness centers.

As part of the project, PMC would build an elevated passage along the building's river-facing wall to connect Market and Chestnut Streets, from which the reconfigured building's main entrance would be reached, he said.

Crews have started construction at the site and are aiming for occupancy in mid-2018.

The project will target financial-service companies, law firms, and other big groups that have long occupied the high-rise district closer to City Hall.

Market Street is the last high-quality developable swatch of land in the office market.

The current high rents and rising demand for Center City offices make it likely that more big projects will rise on the underdeveloped blocks of Market Street between those high rises and the Schuylkill River.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

30th Street Station's $6.5 Billion Redevelopment

University City is in for some major changes thanks to a new redevelopment plan from Amtrak and partners SEPTA, Brandywine Realty Trust, and Drexel University. The plan will be the single largest development project in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and turn West Philadelphia into a regional economic hub. 

The development is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion coming from developers.

The project is expected to create 22,000 construction jobs and another 10,000 permanent jobs, and add 8,000 to 10,000 residents to the city’s population.

The massive venture will focus on the area around 30th Street Station, the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system, ultimately turning the area into a second downtown for Philadelphia.

Plans for the station and surrounding neighborhood will start with the capping of the existing Amtrak and SEPTA-owned rail yards to accommodate 10 million square feet of development along the Schuylkill River.

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New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created, with most of the development privately financed.

The project will include housing for 10,000 residents and create 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.

Three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City, are also planned.

The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in the University City neighborhood, 88 of which is occupied by the Amtrak rail yard.

This project is the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus between Walnut and Spring Garden Streets and northeast from 30th Street Station.

Among the infrastructure improvements are plans to relocate a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of a new bus terminal.

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In addition to the bus facility, Amtrak also plans to expand The Porch at 30th Street Station.

A new gateway park will surround the facility with a tree-lined promenade along the river, a west-side plaza that could be used for large-scale events and a north plaza along Arch Street.

The 30th Street Station itself will also receive a major renovation that will add retail space and a new pedestrian plaza around the train station.

A new underground concourse that will connect the SEPTA subway station at 30th Street to the Amtrak station, is also planned.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Drexel to Construct $3.5 Billion “Innovation Neighborhood”

Fourteen acres next to Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station will be transformed into a $3.5 billion “innovation neighborhood” designed to mix education, housing and entrepreneurship, under plans unveiled by Drexel University. 

Schuylkill Yards is the name of the mixed-use project, which will add up to eight million square feet of offices, labs, and housing in new and recycled buildings next to the third busiest passenger rail station in the country.

Drexel University, which assembled the land and envisioned the project, announced that it has selected Brandywine Realty Trust of Philadelphia to be the master developer and its joint venture partner in the project.

SHoP Architects and the Dutch firm West8 are working on the master plan. SHoP will handle the district planning and development of the architectural standards, and West 8 will be responsible for creating the public realm and development of the landscape standards.

Project renderings show a combination of high-rise and low-rise buildings on a 10-acre site next to Drexel’s main campus, Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, and Brandywine’s Cira Centre development.

“Schuylkill Yards will undeniably transform Philadelphia’s skyline as new towers rise on the west side of the Schuylkill River,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust.

Proposed uses in this “collaborative neighborhood” include entrepreneurial spaces, educational facilities and research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hospitality and cultural venues, and public open spaces.

While the community is being designed for a wide range of users, from educational and medical institutions to residents and businesses, developers say the common theme will be the pursuit of innovation.
“Drexel has always believed there’s a superior use for this unique location — essentially the 50 yard line of the Eastern Seaboard — as a neighborhood built around collaboration and innovation. That’s why the University assembled these parcels, and the time is right to put this vision into action,” said Drexel President John A. Fry.

“Schuylkill Yards is more than a large-scale development; it will be the heart of America’s next great urban innovation district.”

The developers say this is a long-term investment in Philadelphia and its University City neighborhood, and it’s aimed at people who want to live or work in the area and have easy access to the train station.

Besides its proximity to 30th Street Station, Schuylkill Yards will have connections to Philadelphia’s international airport. The master plan calls for a new gateway to Drexel and University City, a real estate submarket with a high concentration of education and medical institutions.

Construction of Schuylkill Yards will take place in multiple phases. As master developer, Brandywine, will oversee a team that includes Gotham Organization leading the residential development, and Longfellow Real Estate Partners leading the life sciences component.

When completed, developers say, the site will contain a mix of repurposed existing buildings and new towers connected by a “diverse network of public spaces.”

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The development will begin with the creation of Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre park at 30th and Market streets, directly across from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. In addition, they say, the historic former Bulletin Building will be re-imagined by transforming its east facade with “inside/out viewports and a dynamic front screen.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the project represents “one of the most valuable assemblages of real estate” in the nation.

“Schuylkill Yards is a big step forward in University City’s transition to a next-generation business district,” he said. “It will provide our region’s current and future innovators with a central hub for collaboration and signal to the world that Philadelphia is ready for business in the 21st century’s new economy.”

Schuylkill Yards “will bring new, innovative businesses and residents to Pennsylvania, and the potential economic impact is tremendous,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, “Those who choose to make Schuylkill Yards their home will have access to many of the most innovative companies, organizations and educational institutions in our state.”