Two years ago, I wrote an article on this blog about a large new mixed-use development on 30th Street, between Chestnut and Walnut Streets, in University City. The development is the second phase of Cira Centre, the series of new highrises being built along the University City Schuylkill waterfront (The first Cira Centre tower, Cira Centre I, is already behind 30th Street Station, since 2006). The Schuylkill waterfront of University City has gained in popularity since the opening of The Porch at 30th Street Station public plaza, on Market Street, and the opening of the large Penn Park, south of Walnut Street. This particular phase is called Cira Centre South, and it replaces the old Postal Annex building, that connected to the former 30th Street Post Office, now the IRS Service Center across from the site on Chestnut Street. Cira Centre South will consist of two rather tall skyscrapers on either side of a large parking garage that was built in the middle of the block a few years ago, which will better connect University City to Center City and create a dramatic new gateway to University City, along with the Left Bank apartments, Drexel University‘s Chestnut Square a couple of blocks away, and the new academic building for Drexel’s Lebow School of Business. The first of those new highrises is already under construction on the Chestnut Street side. The Walnut Street tower is likely to start construction later this year (I’ll have more to say about that building later in this article). Cira Centre South is one of several highrise developments that are giving University City a dramatic new skyline, with seven highrises to begin construction this year that are approximately 300 feet or taller.
The Chestnut Street tower will be officially called, Evo at Cira Centre South. It is being developed by student-housing developer Campus Crest Communities, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, and original Cira-developer Brandywine Realty Trust and being designed by Philadelphia post-modernist architecture firm Erdy McHenry and Cira master planner Cesar Pelli, the lead architect of Cira Centre I. Evo is the latest in a series of student apartment buildings by Campus Crest built around the nation, and will be the tallest student apartment building in the United States. It will be 33 storeys and likely about the same height as Cira Centre I, which is more than 400 feet tall (this is taller than the original design for the Chestnut Street tower, which was done by Cesar Pelli years ago) and it will fit approximately 850 beds. It will have a more linear design than the other Cira buildings (probably to maximize the space of the tight building site), scattered windows and several small alcoves on the sides, and a sloping roof line along glass walls surrounding a flat rooftop patio. As one might imagine, the building will have a significant amount of amenities, many of which are not normally found in student housing, such as a concierge service, media room, fitness center, on-site management and maintenance, study lounges, a library technology center, and, yes, a rooftop swimming pool on the patio. There will, also, be ground-level retail along Chestnut Street and a green roof on the parking garage (which will have a few storeys added, as well). The managers for the Chestnut Street tower will be Campus Crest, but the land is owned by the University of Pennsylvania and leased by Brandywine. The target population for The Grove will be graduate students, with a layout and design they would prefer, but undergrads and non-students will also be able to live there. And, even though Penn owns the land, students from any college or university will be eligible to live there. The construction is expected to take about a year and a half; with occupancy expected for Fall 2014, but leasing beginning this fall; and the total cost of construction will be $158.5 million. The tower is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification, as well.
Later this year, Brandywine is expected to begin construction of the Walnut Street tower, which will be about 750,000 square feet of space. According to a representative from Brandywine, 80% of that building will be office space, 15% will be residential, and about 5% will be retail along Walnut Street. The office space will be between 500,000 and 600,000 square feet, then, and will include some space leased by Penn. Once Brandywine leases out some more office space, they will be ready to build. What’s most exciting about this building is that it will be 47 storeys and much taller than The Grove (judging from the latest renderings it would likely be between 700 and 800 feet tall) making it in the same range as the Mellon Tower or Three Logan Place (the former Bell Atlantic Tower). This, obviously, would make it one of the tallest buildings in the city (but in University City, not the traditional central business district in Center City), the tallest building on Walnut Street, and for the first time a building under construction in West Philadelphia would be taller than anything under construction in Center City. The residential portion (likely condos, in my estimation) would be the highest residences in the city, except for the penthouse of Two Liberty Place, which will be on top of a hotel in the uppermost floors of that building soon.
This may not be the last superskyscraper in the Cira project, as Brandywine would eventually like to build a 54-storey tower behind 30th Street Station, at 30th Street & JFK Boulevard, to be called Cira Centre II. The Walnut Street tower and that one would have a similar shape to Cira Centre I, all designed by Cesar Pelli and resembling the original model for the whole Cira development. Brandywine would, also, like to landscape the intersection at Chestnut Street and Schuylkill Avenue and call it Cira Square. I don’t have any word about whether the new buildings will have the same lighting scheme at night, but I certainly hope they create something similar to the nighttime lighting of Cira Centre I, which would also be quite dramatic.
If you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in the booming University City area, or anywhere else in the city, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, here, my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. You can, also, find out more about our Long & Foster Real Estate Philly Center City Office, here. And, you can read the official press release from Campus Crest, here, and look at the official Evo at Cira Centre South website, here, (the renderings for the Chestnut Street tower are outdated on that one, however). I have numerous renderings of Evo at Cira Centre South below, as well as, renderings that are on the windows of one of Brandywine’s properties, 1900 Market Street, that show Cira Centre South (as well as a rendering of 1919 Market Street, Brandywine’s proposed apartment building across the street from 1900 Market Street, which I will do a story on soon) and also pictures that I took of the construction site and neighborhood of Cira Centre South.