New housing and retail development makes a new Chestnut Street gateway for Drexel

Drexel University has broken ground on yet another new development on the western end of its campus.  This development is at 32nd & Chestnut Streets and will be a large student housing and retail development, surrounding the existing Creese Student Center and MacAlister Hall, known as Chestnut Square.  It will feature two eight-storey student apartment buildings, along Chestnut Street stretching to 33rd Street, and a 19-storey student apartment building, at the corner of 32nd & Chestnut.  The first and second floors will be the retail floors, naturally, and will include eateries, shops, and a new entrance to the Barnes & Noble campus bookstore at 33rd & Chestnut.  The buildings will be clad in limestone and inside will have 865 beds for students, as well as, a lounge, fitness center, laundry, and game room.

Chestnut Square is being developed by Drexel in a partnership with American Campus Communities.  This is the first such partnership for Drexel with a major private developer.  Drexel is, however, considering more, and larger, such developments with Brandywine Realty Trust near 30th Street Station.  Brandywine is, already, developing the Cira Center, which may start its second phase soon, on Chestnut and Walnut Streets, since Brandywine has recently refinanced debt and put themselves in a better credit position to seek construction loans.  Chestnut Square will cost $97.6 million and is being designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Voith & Mactavish Architects, LLP.  It will be a total of 361,200 square feet and should be completed by the Fall 2013 semester, after having broken ground this last February.

As stated earlier, the development will surround the existing Creese Student Center.  There will be a gap between the two eight-storey buildings that will consist of a courtyard and entrance to the Student Center and the Mandell Theatre, and the other sides of modernist MacAlister Hall, at the 33rd and Chestnut corner, will remain unchanged.  The retail helps to animate the spaces on Chestnut Street and brings much needed nighttime activity to Chestnut Street and this general area.  Readers of my blog know, however, that this isn’t the only development in the area.  Drexel is building a large highrise building for the Lebow College of Business, on Market Street, and just finished up the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, across from the Creese Student Center, on Chestnut.  These buildings both have small eateries on the ground level.  Drexel, also, expanded the Daskalakis Athletic Center, a couple of years ago, with a large gym facing Market Street and a restaurant at the corner of 34th & Market Streets.  The university is close to closing a deal for a much larger housing and retail development at 34th Street and Lancaster Avenue.  That intersection could certainly use redevelopment, as it is dominated by a 7-11, with a parking lot in front, and a nondescript lab building and parking lot across the street.  Also, the University of Pennsylvania is planning new dorms on Chestnut Street, between 33rd & 34th Streets, that would surround Hill Field and include first floor retail on all sides, and the University City Science Center is planning a large new research and office building at 34th & Market Streets that will, also, include new retail.  I’ll have more info about all these projects when more details become available.

If you are thinking about buying, selling, or renting a home or investment property in the neighborhoods surrounding the constantly developing universities west of the Schuylkill River, feel free to contact me at or check out my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE.  And you should check out our Condo Shop website,, our Condo Shop Facebook page, The Condo Shop, and our Condo Shop twitter page, @The_Condo_Shop, for our latest listings and more information about Philadelphia neighborhoods.  We’ve, also, started posting pictures of our listings and buildings on Pinterest, under our name, The Condo Shop.

You can find out more about Chestnut Square at the Drexel website, here, and view my pictures of the site and renderings, below.

Rendering of Chestnut Square, from 32nd Street, shows 19-storey tower in front

Rendering of Chestnut Square, from 33rd Street, shows Barnes & Noble campus bookstore and MacAlister Hall

Courtyard at Chestnut Square

Full view of Chestnut Square site along Chestnut Street

Chestnut Square site, from 33rd Street, shows MacAlister Hall and Barnes & Noble campus bookstore

Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, across the street from Chestnut Square....the new Lebow Building is just beyond, both on a new walkway across from Chestnut Square

Chestnut Square site, looking east down Chestnut Street towards Center City


About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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