Science Center Eyes Building Demo in the Fall, Plans Temporary Parking Lot

A zoning notice begins to tell some of the story regarding more development at the Science Center. We fill in the gaps.

Here's where we found the blaze orange notice. (Photo of 38th and Filbert taken in June) | Photo: James Jennings

Here’s where we found the ZBA notice. (Photo of 38th and Filbert taken in June) | Photo: James Jennings

Depending on your route to the last week’s Night Market street festival in West Philly on Lancaster Avenue, you might have passed by a zoning notice that may be of some interest to your development-lovin’ heart.

The blaze orange sticker explained that a public surface parking lot is being planned (or at least a zoning variance is being sought, the meeting is scheduled for August 26) on the vacant lot that spans from 36th to 38th and Filbert. You know it as part of the massive live/work innovation hub that developer Wexford Science + Technology has planned for the expansion of the Science Center.

The variance would allow for the erection of a detached parking booth and the creation of 103 parking spaces on the lot, including 5 “accessible spaces” and 22 compact spaces. There would be 10 spots for bikes and 5 “reservoir spaces.” We know what you’re saying: A surface parking lot?! This wasn’t part of the plans! 

Well, it’s apparently part of a give-and-take of sorts in the grand scheme of things.

Wexford is a BioMed Realty company and James Cullinan, director of marketing at BioTech, said in an email the lot will only be a “temporary” thing. “It is being used as a replacement for the parking structure that is being torn down. That lot won’t be part of the development once the site begins development.”

Cullinan is referring to the two buildings at 3615 and 3665 Market Street, both of which will be demolished in order to make way for a new office building, dubbed 3675 Market. According to Cullinan, demolition is “expected to begin this fall,” which is slightly more specific that the “end of 2015” that what was announced at the press briefing for the overall expansion.

3675 Market is slated to be designed by Seattle-based ZGF Architects an an “at least LEED-silver certified” building and will eventually become the new headquarters for the Science Center. One of the key themes to the new development is reintroducing 37th Street through the site and creating access straight on through to Market Street, which might mean a retail/restaurant space on the newly-created corner of 37th and Market.

Here’s what it looks like today:

The current view of the future location of 37h Street | Photo: James Jennings

The current view of the future location of 37h Street | Photo: James Jennings

According to the site plans from Wexford, this stretch of Filbert Street will eventually become two buildings. So for now, depending on the ruling of the ZBA, it looks like a temporary surface parking lot is slated for the lot, to which we say, meh.