Schuylkill Yards Breaks Ground With Drexel Square

 

The sprawling parking lot in front of the former Bulletin Building at 3001 Market Street gets ready for a green makeover. Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre community park, is the first project for Phase 1 of Schuylkill Yards. | Photo: Michael Bixler

Philadelphia’s next large-scale redevelopment project kicked off today with the official groundbreaking of Schuylkill Yards. Phase 1 of the $3.5 billion “innovation district,” a partnership between Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust, will begin with the construction of Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre community park built on top of a parking lot adjacent to the former offices and production plant of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin at 30th and Market Streets. Demolition of the parking lot is already underway.

At the opening ceremony for the groundbreaking of the ambitious, multi-phase development, John Fry, president of Drexel University, said,“We envision a world class innovation district where researchers, start ups, and established companies come together to collaborate, to create, and drive Philadelphia’s future economy.”

Mayor Jim Kenney pointed out the immediate, transformative economic potential of the project, stating “Schyulkill Yards is one of the three sites we highlighted in our proposal to Amazon for making Philadelphia the home of their second headquarters. Located in University City, a world-class innovation neighborhood, adjacent to downtown, surrounded by top-ranking universities that continue to produce top talent, and entered by the third busiest train station in the nation, this site has everything Amazon is looking for.”

When complete, Drexel Square, designed by SHoP Architects and West 8, architects of the Schuylkill Yards master plan, will feature a 12,064 square-foot elliptical lawn with access point from all sides, a network of granite paving and seat edges, and a small urban oasis at the Market Street gateway to University City. The park will be filled with raised planter beds under the canopy of 30 Dawn Redwood trees and fitted with 60-foot light poles.

View from 30th Street looking at Drexel Square and a remade One Drexel Plaza, the former offices and production plant of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. | Rendering: SHoP Architects and West 8

Drexel Square will be the centerpiece of roughly 6.5 acres of public green space and streetscape improvements planned for Schuylkill Yards. Major renovations to the former Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Building aka One Drexel Plaza, the construction of two mixed use towers at 3003 and 3025 JFK Boulevard, and the overall development of 4.6 acres of educational, entrepreneurial, and research facilities are included in plans for Phase I. Drexel University and Brandywine Realty anticipates the evolution of Schuylkill Yards to take place over a gradual period of 15-20 years.

In addition to building the billion-dollar megaproject, Brandywine Realty has committed to implementing a $5.6 million neighborhood engagement and investment program geared towards the surrounding West Philadelphia communities immediately impacted by the project.

“Schuylkill Yards will be an inclusive-growth development that will open doors and create opportunities for residents in all of our surrounding neighborhoods. Brandywine’s neighborhood engagement initiative is designed to support local and minority-owned businesses, employ local workers, provide job training, and preserve and add to the existing housing stock at all income levels,” said Fry.

The inclusionary program will focus on job creation, affordable housing, small business development, and revitalizing underused building stock and economically-depressed commercial corridors with capital investment.

Mayor Kenny expressed his excitement over the program and emphasized the importance of balancing redevelopment with inclusive neighborhood investment. “Building this project will expand the opportunities to many Philadelphians in need of jobs that pay families sustaining wages and provide them with the security of affordable, permanent housing,’ said Kenney. Brandywine worked with local community groups to find out how best they could address the most pressing issues through this project and they have a great blueprint in place to make a real difference.”

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. Follow him on Instagram



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Jewelry Designer Adds Flair To Old Stable In East Passyunk

Jewelry Designer Adds Flair To Old Stable In East Passyunk

October 9, 2019  |  Art & Design, Preservation

An old horse stable in South Philly finds a new function in the fashion world. Stacia Friedman takes a look inside > more

Salvage City: Recycling History One Object At A Time

Salvage City: Recycling History One Object At A Time

October 7, 2019  |  Art & Design

One person's trash is another person's treasure, especially in the world of architectural salvage. Jacqueline Drayer takes a look at a new art exhibition at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens through the lens of the city's reclaimed materials industry > more

Special Collections Show Their Stuff For Archives Month Philly

Special Collections Show Their Stuff For Archives Month Philly

October 3, 2019  |  History

Archives Month Philly kicks off with a long list of October events in the Delaware Valley. Kimberly Haas spoke to archivists from across the region to get the details on what's in store this year > more

The Crowning Glory Of Christ Church’s Steeple Comes Down For Restoration

The Crowning Glory Of Christ Church’s Steeple Comes Down For Restoration

September 26, 2019  |  Preservation

In Old City, Christ Church's 265-year-old weathervane come down from the steeple to undergo restoration. Kimberly Haas has the details > more

Op-ed: Spreading The Gospel Of Deadbox, One Bottle Cap At A Time

Op-ed: Spreading The Gospel Of Deadbox, One Bottle Cap At A Time

September 26, 2019  |  City Life

In this essay Len Davidson makes the case for resurrecting a long-lost Philly street game that once contributed to the vibrance of neighborhood life and the human connection of row house culture > more

Concrete Cowboy Of Southwest Philly Finds A New Home At Bartram's Garden

Concrete Cowboy Of Southwest Philly Finds A New Home At Bartram’s Garden

September 24, 2019  |  City Life

After being ousted from vacant, City-owned land, an urban cowboy and his posse of young protégées find a permanent place to hang their hats. Sam Newhouse has the news > more