AKA University City Levels Up With Posh Club Floor

The lounge at Level 28 in AKA University City. | Photos: Sandy Smith

If Cira Centre South is, as Brandywine Realty Trust’s promotions put it, “Philadelphia’s first vertical neighborhood,” then Level 28 is its town square.

The bottom floor of the AKA University City flexible-stay residence has been loaded with high-style amenities that should wow everyone who will use it.

At its heart is a sleek modern lounge situated at the top of the office building elevators; adjacent to this is an outdoor terrace facing north and landscaped with marsh grasses and wildflowers, an integral part of Cira South’s bid for LEED Silver certification. The lounge includes a pop-up bar that will swing into service when the workday ends. Read more »

Brandywine Realty to Move Main Line Headquarters to Philadelphia

The FMC Tower at Cira Center South just got a new tenant. Its very own developer, Brandywine Realty Trust, announced on Friday that it will it will relocate its headquarters to floors 16 and 17 of the building, rendering the building nearly 100 percent full.

Brandywine will join the building’s anchor tenant FMC Corporation, and companies like NASDAQ, Spark Therapeutics, Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners and Freedom Pay that have are already settled in the vertical neighborhood.

The relocation makes sense for a company that’s had a big hand in shaping University City with properties like Cira Centre, the FMC Tower and evo at Cira Centre South, the new IRS Philadelphia Campus and the pending Schuylkill Yards project with Drexel University. Brandywine has always had a satellite office in the Cira Center since the building was constructed and the developer’s Radnor, Pa. office, formerly the site of its HQ, will still house its Pennsylvania suburban operations. About a third of Brandywine’s nearly 400 employees will be based at the FMC tower.  Read more »

Schuylkill Yards Project To Include Major Community Engagement Component

A new community engagement initiative from Brandywine Realty Trust aims to make Schuylkill Yards an engine for community renewal even before the first shovel of dirt is turned.

Brandywine Realty Trust today unveiled another development to rise during Phase One of the Schuylkill Yards project.

This $5.6 million project will build a stronger West Philadelphia through job creation, education and training, small business development, affordable housing, housing preservation and strengthening community organizations.

Brandywine’s community engagement program will include the following major components: Read more »

8 Projects Win Willard Rouse Awards

Swarthmore Town Center West | Photo from Swarthmore College via ULI Philadelphia

Judging from the major elements contained in this year’s honorees at the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia’s fourth annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence, the city’s architectural and development communities have not only become masters at multitasking, they’ve managed to successfully complete their context sensitivity training.

Whether the design paid homage to traditional informal style, like Cope Linder’s master design for Swarthmore Town Center West, or made bold modern statements like KSS/Hollwich Kushner’s Pennovation Center and BLTa/Pelli Clarke Pelli’s FMC Tower at Cira Centre South did, in every case it fit in with its setting and enhanced its intended functions. Read more »

Center City Residents Association Drops Protest of Digital Billboard

Independence Blue Cross will lease office space. | Photo: James Jennings

The former Philadelphia Stock Exchange building at 19th and Market streets. | Photo: James Jennings

The Center City Residents Association has agreed to abandon its protest of a digital billboard proposed to span the façade of the former Philadelphia Stock Exchange building at 19th and Market streets, although one major hurdle for the project still remains, the Inquirer reported.

Association president Charles Goodwin says the group dropped its objection to the signage after a deal was struck to limit its brightness, hours of operation, and coverage area. Read more »

Our Odds on the 30th Street Station Area Development Plan

30th Street Station development plan, aerial view

The 30th Street Station area master plan laid out a fantastic vision of a second downtown for Philadelphia in University City. Only money stands in the way of realizing it, with the public sector as the weakest link. | Rendering by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

$6.5 billion.

The figure was tossed out rather casually in the course of yesterday’s formal unveiling of the two-years-in-the-making master development plan for the area surrounding 30th Street Station in University City, but it represents the largest single bet yet placed on the future of Philadelphia.

The parties involved — Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT, SEPTA, and a slew of elected officials and community groups — have put their chips down on a project that has many moving parts and will play out over the course of decades.

As we’ve seen plans almost as ambitious as this one go up in smoke (anyone here remember River City?), it’s only logical that we should ask what its chances for completion are. Herewith are my own odds for the plan’s key components and the overall chances that the plan will be fully realized sometime in our or our children’s lifetimes. Read more »

1919 Market Gets First Tenants

The apartments at 1919 Market are ready for occupancy, and the first tenants will occupy them tomorrow. Image | Courtesy LCOR via Neff Associates

The apartments at 1919 Market are ready for occupancy, and the first tenants will occupy them tomorrow. Image | Courtesy LCOR via Neff Associates

When we went on that hard hat tour of the clubhouse level of 1919 Market, we asked the organizer whether we would be able to see any of the apartment floors.

The organizer said we couldn’t.

That may well have been because they were well past the hard-hat stage. Just about all of them, in fact, were ready for move-in.

And now people are moving in. Read more »

Next Steps for 30th Street Area Revealed

A rendering of what the 30th Street Station area should look like by 2050 from the draft district plan

A rendering of what the 30th Street Station area should look like by 2050 from the draft district plan

On the heels of Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust announcing their joint plan to redevelop the area just west of 30th Street Station comes a draft plan for the larger area surrounding the station.

The 30th Street Station District Plan is the product of a coalition that includes not only Drexel and Brandywine but also Amtrak, PennDOT and SEPTA. Like Schuylkill Yards, the larger plan envisions a totally new urban core district emerging around Amtrak’s third-busiest intercity railroad station over the next 35 years. Read more »

Unfinished Business: The View from The Top of 1919 Market

The as-of-now unfinished clubhouse seating area at 1919 Market. Photos | Sandy Smith

The as-of-now unfinished clubhouse seating area at 1919 Market. Photos | Sandy Smith

The frame and most of the shell of 1919 Market, the new luxury apartment building being built by Brandywine Realty Trust and LCOR, are complete, and through the windows one can see apartments taking shape. The building looks to be on pace for a previously announced spring completion date.

But not everything looks ship-shape for opening yet, as we learned on a hard hat tour of the clubhouse and pool area on the building’s top floor this past Saturday. The other thing we learned, though, is that residents will enjoy some great views as they lounge beside the pool or use the clubhouse facilities, which look like they too will be spiffy.
Read more »

Drexel, Brandywine Take Wraps Off Schuylkill Yards

One Drexel Plaza and Drexel Square

The first phase of the Schuylkill Yards project will include a public square and a redesigned One Drexel Plaza. Image | SHoP Architects and West8

The next big step in the evolution of University City into Philadelphia’s “second downtown” began this afternoon inside a tent next to One Drexel Plaza, where Drexel University President John Fry and Brandywine Realty Trust CEO Gerard Sweeney unveiled the master plan for the new mixed-use “innovation neighborhood” they will create together. They also announced its name: Schuylkill Yards. Read more »

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