On Market Street in University City, west of Drexel and beyond, the collegiate fueled capital development begins to fade as you move further west. The University City Science Center is one institution poised, at least theoretically, to improve Market Street between 34th and 39th Streets.
Their recent announcement of a new 11-story tower on the northeast corner of 38th & Market is one step in that direction. But the Science Center’s expansion has unfolded at a slower pace than its planners previously envisioned.
Northeast corner under construction
In May 2010, the Science Center filed a lawsuit against the PRA after the agency attempted to reclaim two parcels of land on the south side of the 3800 block of Market from the institution. The PRA claimed the Center failed to uphold an agreement regarding the land, which was to be developed in a timely fashion. Folks from the Science Center claimed the sluggish economy was responsible for the delays. The dispute was resolved last April. The Science Center now has 10 additional years, with the chance to extend it for another three, to complete the development of this city block.
Now a parking lot
What that development might be remains unclear. We recently spotted a placard on the southwest corner of the intersection from Cushman and Garley (the same folks who operate One Liberty Place) advertising for up to 800K sqft of space, with a rendering of a corporate looking tower that would be one of the taller buildings in University City. But is this a remnant of an old plan or what we can expect to see here in the coming years?
As the heart of this area seems to be strengthening and expanding, with pedestrian malls and gateways to University City and various projects, now may be the time for an interested partner to consider how the 3800 block of Market can be transformed. It seems, if the area continues to grow the way it has the past 15 years, that this could be a prime location sooner rather than later. But is this a good location for more university-related development? Or office space for private companies? Or both?
Or, will it just remain a parking lot for the foreseeable future?
– Lou Mancinelli