Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
Philadelphia—National community developer Southern Land Company broke ground this week on a new $110 million, 28-story residential tower at 3601 Market Street in Philadelphia. The project, in which University City Science Center and BLT Architects are partners, will feature 364 units and 14,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space. It is expected to be complete in 2015.
Most recently a parking lot, the parcel will yield a high-end apartment building with a resort-style rooftop pool, yoga and fitness center, and game room. The building will also offer parking for 200 cars and 140 bicycles. It is the first residential building in the 50-plus-year history of University City Science Center.
“The amount of jobs and activity in Philadelphia’s University City area has greatly increased over the last few years; however, the housing stock has not,” Southern Land Company’s Dustin Downey, who oversees all aspects of development in Pennsylvania, tells MHN.
He observes that with only one Class A apartment building west of the Schuylkill River being 99 percent occupied, many doctors, nurses, professors and graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University who would have preferred to live in University City had to go elsewhere. Downey adds that “3601 Market was designed to fill this need for Class A housing in West Philadelphia, and the University City Science Center was the perfect location for it.”
The only major challenge Southern Land Company has faced thus far was designing a building that could be built and leased at a total monetary cost similar to the older obsolete buildings in the area. “We achieved that by designing smaller, very efficient units,” Dustin Downey reports.
In its long and successful history as an incubator of companies and commercial technologies, the University City Science Center has never had a residential component. That oversight is now being rectified, with the goal of actively spurring ingenuity in the region and keeping it in the area.
“We envisioned a modern building that would be both practical and appealing to the local community,” says BLT Architects principal Michael Prifti. “This is the first residential element within the Science Center research park, and a valuable addition to the West Philadelphia area, softening Market Street and extending the neighborhood experience along 36th Street.”
Tim Downey, CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based Southern Land Company, which specializes in architecture, landscape architecture, construction and multifamily development, among other initiatives, says 3601 Market Street is a signature Southern Land project, and the company is launching the development with excitement.
“We take the opportunity to shape a neighborhood’s appearance and bolster its sustainability very seriously,” Tim Downey says. “The building will be a modern jewel for West Philadelphia.”
Southern Land Company officials believe there are substantial numbers of people who work in University City but are forced to live in Center City, due to the limited housing options in the former. The new development “is being designed by our partners BLT Architects as a mixed-use facility intended to bring energy to the Science Center campus day and night,” Dustin Downey says.
“These new residents, paired with the restaurant and retail space on the ground floor, will continue to move the area toward a 24-hour community,” he adds. “More options for quality housing will attract more people to live in University City, which in turn will attract more residential services that will hopefully attract more people and business to relocate to this area.”