U-City Named Hottest Tech Submarket in Nation

One Drexel Plaza and Drexel Square

Strong demand and rising rents should make it easy for projects in the University City development pipeline, like the Schuylkill Yards joint venture between Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust, to find tech-sector tenants to fill them, if the latest CBRE “Tech-Thirty” report is any guide. | Image: SHoP Architects and West8

Those shiny new buildings rising in University City are not only turning it into Philadelphia’s second downtown — they’re making it the nation’s hottest submarket for high-tech office space, according to CBRE’s annual “Tech-Thirty” survey.

The survey, which examines job growth and technology office space rent growth in the nation’s 30 largest technology employment centers, put the area surrounding Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania at the top of the list for office rent growth — the average rent of $41.40 per square foot is up 37.8 percent over the two-year period from the second quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2016 — and in growth of net absorption (the amount of space on the market that gets occupied), it ranked second only to Tempe, outside Phoenix, with a growth rate of 23.3 percent over that same period. Read more »

Schmear It Goes From Food Truck to Permanent Store

schmearit-400When David Fine founded Schmear It, a start-up company selling bagels from a food truck, he didn’t see other local Philadelphia bagel joints as his competition. In fact, he chose South Street Philly Bagels as his supplier. “There’s enough room for all of us as long as everyone is trying to do their unique thing,” he said.

Schmear It’s unique thing was its mission of combining the pursuit of social good with high-quality products and customer service.

Fine, who got to know food trucks at the University of Pennsylvania during his time as an undergraduate, noticed a gap in the market in University City–there was nowhere to get a good bagel. Having worked at another non–profit, Community Health Charities of Maryland before, he wondered if there was a way to fill this gap while maintaining a social mission.

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Bottle Shop at Local 44 Adds Wine to Go

The Bottle Shop at Local 44 is now even more "bottle-y."

The Bottle Shop at Local 44 is now even more “bottle-y.”

The Bottle Shop at Local 44 has been known for its well-curated selection of beers since its opening. And starting today, it’s going to look be known for take-out wine as well. The bottle shop is now carrying an inventory of 22 wines by the bottle. Look for ten red, ten white and two sparkling wine.

Proprietor Leigh Maida tells us that the staff is particularly jazzed about:

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Michelin-Starred Team Is Opening Restaurant in University City

The restaurant space during a recent hard hat tour of the tower | Photo by Sandy Smith

The restaurant space during a recent hard hat tour of the tower | Photo by Sandy Smith

The team behind New York’s Michelin-starred Rebelle is opening a restaurant in University City’s FMC Tower at Cira Centre South. The restaurant, which will be at the base of the mixed-use tower at 30th and Walnut is expected to open in early 2017. The tower is also home to AKA University City, a mix of luxury hotel rooms and apartment residences occupying the upper floors of the tower.

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Hard Hat Tour: AKA University City

A construction worker cuts a section of pipe on the amenity floor at the soon-to-open AKA University City. Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted; renderings: Piero Lissoni

A construction worker cuts a section of pipe on the amenity floor at the soon-to-open AKA University City. Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted; renderings: AKA

Those of you of a certain age may recall the TV ads for KormanSuites, “when just an apartment just isn’t enough.” The apartments the Korman family offered under that brand came with extra services and amenities — including furniture if you wanted it — and something other apartments at the time didn’t offer at all, which were leases of less than a year’s duration.

The KormanSuites brand was the brainchild of Larry Korman, the oldest of the fourth generation of Kormans to run the family real estate development and management company, and it revealed the existence of a hitherto undiscovered market: people who wanted a nice place to live that offered more than a short-term hotel room could but didn’t need to be tied down to that place for an entire year.

The “extended stay” residence industry that sprang from that discovery has also grown and matured since then, and Korman has continued to play a role in its evolution with its extended-stay residence brand, AKA. Read more »

Spread Bagelry Opens in University City

Photo by Larry Rosenblum

Spread Bagelry is now open in University City | Photo by Larry Rosenblum

Spread Bagelry, the Rittenhouse neighborhood Montreal bagel spot has opened its second location, this one at 36th and Chestnut in University City. But this is no reproduction of the original. Instead, there will be a bar in the space as well (the liquor license transfer isn’t complete yet).

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Milkhouse Adding New Location at 30th Street Station

Milkhouse comes to 30th Street Station

Milkhouse comes to 30th Street Station

Milkhouse, the grilled cheese, fries and more emporium is set to open its third location. This Milkhouse will be inside 30th Street Station at the former Ben & Jerry’s kiosk, behind Saxby’s. Like the Milkhouse locations inside Suburban Station and at 37 South 19th Street, the 30th Street Station location will offer the full Milkhouse menu of:

  • Grilled Cheeses
  • Fries
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Milkshakes

Owner Tommy Guest tells us that he’s on schedule to open before the Democratic National Convention steams into town. The Milkhouse kiosk at 30th Street Station will be open seven days a week, the hours are still being worked out.

Milkhouse – 30th Street Station [Foobooz]

Drexel Student Earns a Spot on Shake Shack’s Menu

City of Butter-ly Love made with Vanilla frozen custard, Butter Cake, Caramel and Brown Butter Bits

City of Butter-ly Love made with Vanilla frozen custard, Butter Cake, Caramel and Brown Butter Bits

Shake Shack paired up with Drexel University’s Food Lab to bring a new limited-time item to the menu. Starting today, July 1st, the new City of Butter-ly Love concrete will be served at the University City location. The concrete is vanilla custard with butter cake, caramel and brown butter bits.

The partnership began as a competition for students in the culinary arts program to create new item menus. Eleven ideas were submitted, seven were chosen as semi-finalists, and now the winner is available.

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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 »

University City Preservation Tragedy: When Density Begets Dullness

Dull density vs. handsome history. If this is the price of progress, can we get a refund? | Photo courtesy Naked Philly

Dull density vs. handsome history: If this is the price of progress, can we get a refund? | Photo courtesy Naked Philly

One of the positive aspects of the current development boom in Philly is that long-underutilized land is being put to better use. Denser development makes the most of our great transportation infrastructure and adds more vitality to neighborhoods across the spectrum.

Of course, no good is unalloyed. Sometimes, to get the benefit, pieces of the city’s past must be sacrificed. It’s part of the natural process by which cities remain vital.

But not all new development is worth sacrificing the past for. Sometimes, the pursuit of density (and the increased revenue that comes with it) demands too high a price.

Especially when that price is the replacement of handsome ensembles of historic buildings with bland, uninspired boxes. Read more »

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