How Philly’s Bioscience Sector Is Driving the City’s Next Big Real Estate Boom

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Philadelphia’s life sciences sector is right about where Michael Jordan was in 1989.

The center of this flurry of life sciences real estate action is University City, one of the most desired sections of the city for researchers and science professionals due to its proximity to universities and academic medical centers like Drexel and Penn as well as to a major transit hub, 30th Street Station.

Just across from 30th Street Station, several pieces of Brandywine Realty Trust’s $3.5 billion mixed-use Schuylkill Yards project have thus far been devoted to life sciences. In April, the real estate investment trust began converting 3000 Market Street to include a mix of office and lab space for Spark Therapeutics. The second phase involves adding a 472,000-square-foot life sciences building with lab space at 3151 Market Street, plus an additional tower planned for 3025 JFK Boulevard.

According to Jeff DeVuono, executive vice president and senior managing director of BRT’s Pennsylvania portfolio, who oversees leasing at Schuylkill Yards, his team has enlisted the help of its architects to research the trends that COVID-19 has accelerated. “With all development right now, we’ve had to take a step back and ensure we’re designing for a post-COVID world, even though no one can be sure what that will look like yet,” DeVuono says. “We’ve seen more consumers become hyper-aware of how important some of these new technologies are, like touchless building features, state-of-the-art HVAC and air filtration systems, optimized fresh air intake, access to the outdoors and more, all of which are featured in our lab and research project at Schuylkill Yards.”

Less than a mile away, at 38th and Market streets, real estate agency Wexford Science & Technology is continuing the development of uCity Square in partnership with the University City Science Center and health-care real estate investment trust Ventas. A 2015 formal partnership between the Science Center and Wexford and a later partnership between Wexford and Ventas resulted in the development of the current uCity Square community, which spans more than three million square feet of existing labs, offices, incubators, residences and more and houses 200-plus companies. The partners now have more than 1.35 million additional square feet under construction, including One uCity, which will anchor up to eight additional mixed-use buildings.


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