Philadelphia — Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN), in partnership with Drexel University, has broken ground on Phase I of the mixed-use, master-planned Schuylkill Yards Innovation Community in West Philadelphia’s University City district.
The first phase of the $3.5 billion development will include a 1.3-acre community park at the corner of 30th and Market streets known as Drexel Square, which will be situated directly across from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station.
Other components of Phase I include 4.6 acres of entrepreneurial space, educational facilities, research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hotels and open public spaces.
SHoP Architects and West 8 Landscape Architects designed Drexel Square, which represents the first swath of the 6.5 acres of green space planned for Schuylkill Yards. Brandywine and Drexel plan to deliver Drexel Square by the fourth quarter of 2018.
“We are proud that our first project in Schuylkill Yards will deliver a green public gathering space where the community can connect, interact and share experiences,” says Jerry Sweeney, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Brandywine Realty Trust.
Later phases of Schuylkill Yards will include the redevelopment of the former Bulletin Building, and the development of two towers at 3003 and 3025 JFK Blvd.
In conjunction with the groundbreaking of Schuylkill Yards, Brandywine Realty Trust is implementing a $5.6 million neighborhood engagement program focused on small business development, job creation and affordable housing.
Over the course of the next 15 to 20 years, Schuylkill Yards will feature 14 acres of repurposed buildings, new high-rises and a network of public spaces for community events and gatherings.
The design team for Schuylkill Yards includes residential developer Gotham Organization Inc. and life sciences developer Longfellow Real Estate Partners.
University City has one of the highest concentrations of higher education and medical institutions in the nation, including Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania — an Ivy League institution — and its hospitals, University of the Sciences, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University City Science Center and the Wistar Institute.
Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel University is a comprehensive research university with more than 26,000 students. The private university offers roughly 200 degreed programs and is known for its co-operative education model that brings together Drexel students with global employers such as Amazon, Boeing, Google and NBC Universal.
Brandywine Realty Trust owns, develops, leases and manages office and mixed-use developments in the Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Austin markets. As of Sept. 30, the REIT’s portfolio of owned and/or managed assets comprised 190 properties spanning 26 million square feet.
In addition to Schuylkill Yards, Brandywine has developed and redeveloped several high-profile projects in the West Philadelphia market over the years, including Cira Centre, the new IRS Philadelphia campus, FMC Tower, Cira Green and evo, the nation’s tallest student housing apartment tower at the time of completion.
Brandywine’s stock price closed on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at $17.72 per share, up from $14.55 per share at this time last year.
— John Nelson