Next Steps for 30th Street Area Revealed

Beyond Schuylkill Yards, the 30th Street Station District Plan envisions an entirely new neighborhood over the train tracks.

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.

The plan envisions:

  • An 88-acre neighborhood over the rail yards. Powelton Yard, just northwest of the station, will be covered by 10 million square feet of development, creating an all-new “living, breathing part of West Philadelphia” above the rail yards. This will be the most difficult aspect of the plan, not to mention an extremely expensive one. As such, it is not planned to be finished until 2050. This neighborhood would be a combination of both commercial and residential real estate. The plan also proposes a park named Schuylkill Bluffs as part of this development above the Northeast Corridor tracks. (Drexel is now undertaking a feasibility study of developing the air rights over Powelton Yards.)
  • Development of the surrounding neighborhood. The plan proposes that it will develop the areas “at the front door of a renewed 30th Street Station with a healthy balance of residential buildings, station-anchored commercial office towers, and retail, recreational, and cultural amenities.” (Schuylkill Yards is the first step in that direction.)
  • Reconnecting the Amtrak station with the 3oth Street subway station. The plan proposes “re-establishing a convenient and safe connection between these stations via a new stairway within 30th Street Station’s Main Hall and through an active and day-lit below-grade retail concourse leading to the subway and trolley station.”
  • A new intercity bus terminal. Right now, intercity bus passengers use either a modest station on Filbert Street in Center City or curbside drop-off/pickup points on JFK Boulevard west of 30th Street. The plan proposes a bus terminal on Arch Street that will have a pedestrian bridge connecting it to the train station.
  • Development of other local parks and spaces. The plan proposes an expansion of Drexel Park, improvements to the Mantua Greenway/West Bank Trail, and a trail beneath the High Line that will connect to Penn Park. It also explained that they plan to develop the Station Plaza.
  • The timeline. The first to-do list item will be connecting 30th Street Station to the SEPTA subway and trolley station across the street by 2020. The rest of the first phase of the plan will evolve between 2016 and 2030 and will focus on station and plaza improvements and at-grade developments. The final phase is planned to be in 2050, when the rail yard development will be complete.

The public is invited to weigh in on the draft plan at a public open house tomorrow evening (March 16th) from 4 to 7 p.m. at 30th Street Station.  Read the report in full here before you go.