June 10, 2019
The first phase of the $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards development in University City is finally open to the public.
Drexel Square, a 1.3-acre community park at 30th and Market Streets, debuted Monday at the site of a former surface parking lot — heralding big changes to come for the surrounding neighborhood.
The visionary project was announced more than three years ago in a partnership between Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University. The plan aims to transform the district into thriving "knowledge neighborhood" comprised of research facilities, office and entrepreneur spaces, residential and hotel accommodations, and retail development.
Designed by West 8 and SHoP Architects, Drexel Square was created in the vein of William Penn's "public room" concept, a place for people to gather and be renewed by the natural world. The park was completed at a cost of $14.3 million.
“We are thrilled to introduce a new park for the entire community to enjoy,” said Jerry Sweeney, president & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “Schuylkill Yards is designed to create a neighborhood centered around human interaction and unique environments. Our investment in Drexel Square was the first project within the master-planned neighborhood because we understand the social, environmental, health and economic benefits that green spaces offer to communities. Drexel Square lays the foundation for what’s to come at Schuylkill Yards.”
Drexel Square is situated in front of the Bulletin Building, where renovations are set to begin month ahead of the arrival of Spark Therapeutics. The pharmaceutical company has leased the property in anticipation of 200,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of lab space.
The remainder of Schuylkill Yards will eventually include 6.5 acres of public green spaces within the 14-acre development.
“This project isn’t just centered around one building,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Monday. “The Schuylkill Yards project is about the transformation of an entire neighborhood, and it’s impressive to see the growth of this neighborhood happening right before our eyes."