Drexel Seeks Master Developer for Innovation Neighborhood

Rendering of some of the Innovation Neighborhood
A rendering of the future Innovation Neighborhood at Market and 31st Streets.

Drexel has retained JLL to advise in the selection of a master developer for its ambitious Innovation Neighborhood plan for Philadelphia’s University City. The master developer will have exclusive rights to plan and develop approximately 10 acres of urban, transit-oriented real estate. Anchoring University City’s Innovation District, the project has a capacity to exceed more than five million square feet of mixed-use development.

“Such transformative ideas are best achieved with strong comprehensive partnerships,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Drexel envisions a partnership with a world-class developer who will share and expand the university’s vision to redefine the gateway to University City with a blend of education, research, commercial, retail, hospitality, and residential uses.”

The master developer is expected to aggressively market the project to pioneering organizations and advance America’s next great innovation district.

“Innovation Neighborhood represents an unprecedented opportunity for a private developer to obtain development rights in the mostly institutionally-controlled University City,” said Mark Seltzer, JLL senior vice president of Development Advisory Services.

At the threshold between University City and Center City, and adjacent to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, Innovation Neighborhood provides strategic attributes that will expand upon the existing success of University City and robust market activity along the Schuylkill River.

“Drexel University intends to leverage the locational benefits, tight market conditions, high barriers to entry and supporting development function of the University City submarket to create an intentionally designed innovation district,” said Seltzer. “The entire project is grounded in intellectual assets, strong growth projections and multimodal transportation, all located in a city with the highest growth rate of Millennials in the U.S.”

The Philadelphia Central Business District has quickly developed into a dynamic, live-work-play ecosystem that is accessible and offers a high quality of life:

  • University City submarket growth: The University City submarket has the third lowest urban office vacancy in the country at 2.8 percent and $3.5 billion of development projects recently delivered or currently under construction. 
  • Market seeing highest rate of Millennial population growth: With Millennial population growth of 6.1% between 2006 and 2012, Philadelphia saw higher growth of this population subset than any other US city.
  • Office demand landscape shifting: The market has experienced 3.4 million square feet of net new demand since 2011. This notes a structural shift in the local leasing markets that has driven a greater level of selectiveness for those possessing institutional-quality assets.

Drexel University, consistently rated among the nation’s top 100 universities, has transformed itself over the past decade with an expanding residential campus and medical and law schools. Drexel has more than 26,000 students, 10,300 employees and three Philadelphia campuses.

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To schedule an interview with JLL, contact Eric Spector at 215.825.9653 or espector@levlane.com