Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University Break Ground on The West Tower at Schuylkill Yards
Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University marked the commencement of construction of 3025 JFK, the first vertical development within Schuylkill Yards – a $3.5 billion innovation neighborhood in University City – with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 24 featuring state and local dignitaries and project partners. The 570,000 square foot mixed-use building dubbed The West Tower at Schuylkill Yards will add a mix of residential rental units, life science and innovation office space, retail, and indoor/outdoor amenity spaces to the master-planned neighborhood being developed by Brandywine Realty Trust, in partnership with Drexel University.
“The momentum that Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University continue to create with Schuylkill Yards has remained a key component to the forward trajectory of Philadelphia’s economic growth and development and further strengthens our city’s position as a life sciences industry leader,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Following a challenging year, the groundbreaking of The West Tower at Schuylkill Yards marks a positive milestone for Philadelphia and the West Philadelphia community, and we are eager to watch as it takes shape.”
In line with Schuylkill Yards’ emphasis on innovative architecture & design, placemaking and community, The West Tower is designed as part of a duo by global architecture firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), along with HDR, Inc. as the Executive Architect. Its brick base and arches nod to Philadelphia’s rich history, while metal details highlight the site’s industrial origins and nearby rail line. The shape of the tower optimizes natural light and views to the North and South.
“This mixed-use tower comes at a critical moment in time where work and personal enjoyment are blended seamlessly within our daily lives, and where the power of physical space has never been more paramount in bringing people together to collaborate, build sense of community and define culture. The experiences found within The West Tower are designed to propel businesses and individuals forward in their path to success and satisfaction, and we couldn’t be more delighted to ultimately welcome them to Schuylkill Yards” said Jerry Sweeney, president & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust.
The Tower features market-leading standards of design excellence including light-infused space, flexible 29,000 square foot floorplates, and expansive and unobstructed views. Responding to current and future demand drivers accelerated by COVID-19, it is optimized for fresh air intake, filtration and circulation, features state-of-the-art mechanical and building systems, and boasts plentiful amenity and collaboration spaces. The residential component is being developed in conjunction with the Gotham Organization, where 326 residences will reflect today’s evolving live/work lifestyle with flexible unit layouts and high-end finishes. The building’s heart lies in its 29,000 square foot Lifestyle Club on the ninth floor, which features fluid indoor and outdoor experiences including lounge, conference and co-working spaces, an upscale fitness center, a terrace with a lap and recreation pool, cabanas, grilling stations and more.
“Building The West Tower represents such great forward momentum for Schuylkill Yards and Drexel’s shared vision, with Brandywine, of a world-class setting for work and living, learning and innovation, socializing and making meaningful community connections — and a welcoming front door to the extraordinary economic center that is University City today,” said John Fry, president of Drexel University.
The groundbreaking of The West Tower signifies continued momentum for the Schuylkill Yards master-planned neighborhood, which will ultimately entail 4.8M square feet of life science/lab and office space, 132,000 square feet of retail, 1.9M square feet of residential and 6.5 acres of green space. Situated within both a Federal Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) and a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ), Schuylkill Yards’ location adjacent to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and at the gateway to University City, offers direct access to talent, transit and world-class health care and academic institutions, making it one of the most desirable life sciences clusters in the nation.
Construction of The West Tower closely follows the completion of the reimagined Bulletin Building, which features lab and office space fully occupied by Spark Therapeutics. The Bulletin Building is situated directly adjacent to Drexel Square Park – the first completed project within Schuylkill Yards which converted an unused surface parking lot into a 1.3-acre community park. Other active projects within Schuylkill Yards include the redevelopment of 3000 Market Street, a life science building fully leased to Spark Therapeutics and B.Labs; a life science incubator being launched in partnership with Pennsylvania Biotechnology within the Cira Centre, slated to open late 2021; and a ground-up life sciences building at 3151 Market Street, anticipated to begin construction in late 2021.
“Not only will this project transform underutilized land into a dynamic mix-ed use neighborhood, but more importantly, will do so in a way that fosters sustainable economic development and broad opportunity for generations to come,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
Schuylkill Yards is recognized as an exemplary model for inclusive development, with a record-breaking $16.4 million neighborhood engagement initiative. The multi-faceted program provides working capital to small and minority-owned businesses, a trades training program to create paths to family-sustaining jobs, a local sourcing initiative to establish new procurement channels for local businesses, a Community Development Corporation (CDC) Co-Development partnership to build capacity for neighborhood organizations, and a community fund to prioritize affordable housing, education, employment and more. As part of the initiative, Brandywine engaged Mount Vernon Manor, a Community Development Corporation partner for The West Tower.
Construction on 3025 JFK commenced in March 2021 and is anticipated for completion October 2023. For leasing availabilities or to learn more, visit www.schuylkillyards.com.