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Campus & Community

Drexel and American Campus Communities Transform Chestnut-Street

February 2, 2012

Rendering of the new gateway for Drexel and University City featuring 361,200 square-feet of mixed-use student housing and retail space.
Rendering of the transformation of Chestnut Street featuring 361,200 square-feet of mixed-use student housing and retail space

Drexel University and  American Campus Communities will transform Chestnut Street between 32nd and 33rd Streets into a new gateway for Drexel and University City featuring 361,200 square-feet of mixed-use student housing and retail space. The groundbreaking event for the estimated $97.6 million project is scheduled for February 21, with a targeted construction completion date of September 2013, announced Drexel University President John A. Fry.

“This innovative partnership combining dynamic urban retail with high-quality student housing will serve as a catalyst in continuing the revitalization of our campus and surrounding community,” said Fry. “We look forward to partnering with American Campus Communities to create a more vibrant gateway to University City.”

Drexel appreciates the support and efforts of Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell and Mayor Michael Nutter to assist the University throughout the planning process to meet City zoning, planning and permitting rules and regulations, said Fry.

Designed by internationally acclaimed Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the development will include two eight-story buildings that front Chestnut Street while maintaining an open entry corridor to the adjacent Creese Student Center. The broad use of glass at the street level combined with limestone will continue Drexel’s progress toward creating a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use campus district enlivened by retail amenities.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with such a prestigious institution of higher learning such as Drexel and assisting President Fry in achieving his vision for the University,” said Bill Bayless, American Campus CEO. “This transaction stands as an example of a premier university benefiting from private sector investment to deliver world-class housing to its students while preserving its own debt capacity for core capital projects.” 

The building design will also include a 19-story residential tower at the corner of Chestnut and 32nd streets. The two-story street-level space will include retail outlets, neighborhood restaurants, and a new corner entry into the Barnes and Noble – activating student life in an urban setting. Upper floors feature student apartments with both shared and private accommodation options.

“At a time of tremendous growth in our residential student population, this development will allow us to continue to offer Drexel students the very best in quality housing, dining, and services, while transforming Drexel’s Chestnut Street corridor into a community destination,” said James R. Tucker, senior vice president for Student Life and Administrative Services.

About 860 beds of high-quality housing will be available for students. Student residents may select from a variety of unit types, including shared accommodations in a two-bedroom/two-bathroom design or private accommodations in two unit options – a four-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment and an innovative four-bedroom/two-and-a-half-bathroom townhome configuration with in-unit washers and dryers.

The development includes a 14,800-square-foot community center with space for residence life operations and student amenities that include a social lounge with gaming area, a fitness center furnished with modern workout equipment, meeting space, a theater and laundry facilities.

The development was structured via American Campus’s innovative American Campus Equity (ACE®) program under which the company will develop, own and manage the project through a 70-year ground lease structure and make annual ground rent payments to Drexel.

Media Contact:

Niki Gianakaris