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Robust winter crowds mean year-round possibilities for the Delaware waterfront

You can't separate Philadelphia from its rivers, but according to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), locals’ connection to Penn’s Landing -- versus other up-and-coming areas of the city -- isn’t as strong as it could be.

"Our goal is to change the conversation on how Philadelphians see and use their waterfront," says DRWC spokesperson Jodie Milkman of the announcement that this year’s Waterfront Winterfest is getting a major upgrade and extension. Attendance last year was phenomenal despite the fearsome weather.

Summertime also saw major growth in traffic to the waterfront thanks to Spruce Street Harbor Park, and though the market for visitors is different between the summer and winter seasons, "the waterfront can be a year-round attraction and asset," insists Milkman.

After debuting for the month of December last year, Winterfest is returning as an cold-weather fixture in Philly, re-branded along with the rink as the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. This season, the fun will run from November 28, 2014 through March 1, 2015, and include skating, food from Garces Events, light shows, plenty of fire pits, a "winter garden and forest" from Groundswell Design Group’s David Fierabend (featuring hundreds of trees and locally-sourced recycled shipping containers) and a Philly Beer Week collaboration (details TBA).

"It’s not as disconnected or hard to get to as people might have imagined," adds Milkman, especially since the Philly PHLASH unveiled a new winter schedule that includes the Winterfest site (stopping on Columbus Boulevard just south of Walnut Street). From November 28 through Dec 31, the PHLASH will run from Penn’s Landing to the Philadelphia Zoo every day from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and a special Holiday Evening Loop -- including the waterfront, Franklin Square, LOVE Park and more -- will run 6 - 10 p.m.

But the DRWC is also looking beyond winter festivities to focus on the overall impact of extended programming and "placemaking" on the waterfront, which, as Milkman puts it, proves "the need to support winter tourism in addition to summer tourism."

And it’s not just about maximizing visitors. Increasing traffic at waterfront programs today, whether it’s a summer park or skating with Santa, is key to future development there.  

"All of these programs are hopefully setting the stage for large-scale future development," says Milkman, "and pre-conditioning audiences to support businesses on the waterfront in the summer and the winter. It’s a lot easier for people to invest in the waterfront if they feel it has an audience.” 

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Jodie Milkman, The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

 

The sushi burrito comes to University City and beyond

One of Philly’s freshest restaurants is on the cusp of a major expansion, and hopes to use our city as a launching pad to spread nationwide.

Hai Street Kitchen and Co., a unique Japanese-inspired food spot, opened its first eatery at 18th and Chestnut Streets in May. Now company spokesperson Patrick Hughes confirms that another Hai Street location will open in University City before the end of this year.

Hai Street Kitchen is under the umbrella of Genji, an international company based in Center City Philadelphia -- anyone who’s ever picked up sushi at a Whole Foods location on the east coast has already tasted Genji's products.

The restaurant, meanwhile, offers quick sushi-style flavor wrapped up in a new way. According to Hughes, as popular as sushi is among its devotees, only 15 percent of Americans eat it.

"We want to expand to that other 85 percent of America, and came up with the sushi burrito," he explains.

What’s the typical American response to sushi, Hughes asks? It’s cold, it’s small, it’s not filling, it’s only for people who know how to wield chopsticks, and "what’s this green thing in the corner?"

Hai Street diners can order their own sushi-style burritos in a nori wrap (or they can select a rice or salad bowl) with basics such as shrimp tempura, tataki salmon, chili citrus pork and more. They can choose dressings from spicy peanut sauce to black pepper teriyaki, and add a wide variety of toppings, including grilled zucchini, pickled jicama, carrots or cucumbers, wasabi guacamole, and fried garlic or shallots.

"Basically, everything is made right in front of you," says Hughes. And it's meant to appeal to everyone, from health-conscious city lunch-breakers to guys looking for something to "scarf down instead of a cheesesteak."

As with Genji’s Whole Foods-approved sushi, Hai Street focuses on organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, sustainably raised and harvested proteins and veggies, sourced locally in the tri-state area whenever possible (that means a menu that adjusts with the seasons).

They’re also expanding their green mission with the restaurant’s new delivery system, launched last month, serving "Vine to Pine, river to river" Monday through Friday, using bike-centric One Hour Messengers.

The company has grand aspirations -- in addition to their second restaurant later this year, Hai Street aims to open eight more in 2015, including locations in South Jersey, King of Prussia and the Main Line, with more planned for 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Patrick Hughes, Hai Street Kitchen & Co.

 

Penn's South Bank campus gets a new name; Pennovation Center breaks ground

The University of Pennsylvania's South Bank campus, a 23-acre swath of development at 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue (purchased by Penn in 2010), is getting a new name: "Pennovation Works."

According to Penn Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, President Amy Gutmann coined the "Pennovation" moniker, looking toward the opening of the Pennovation Center, a 52,000-square-foot three-story building, slated for renovation and re-opening in 2016.

The Pennovation Works complex will include a mix of previously existing and new buildings housing the Bio Garden of the Penn School of Arts & Sciences, UPSTART’s Novapeutics, the Philadelphia Free Library archives, KMel Robotics and much more.

On October 31, Gutmann and other Penn executives welcomed a crowd of 800 people (two-thirds of them Penn staff, faculty, and students) for a ceremonial groundbreaking and day-long seminar of tours and sessions to celebrate a wide variety of scientific, academic and commercial innovation at Penn.

The Pennovation Center concept, which includes a variety of cross-discipline co-working and research spaces, got its start within the last two years based on a need for incubator space, particularly incubators with affordable lab space.

"One of the really neat things about this project is the architects actually are entrepreneurs," says Carnaroli. "So they learned themselves that you need a space where you learn how to do your five-minute elevator pitch…they’re thinking very holistically."

That means the finished Pennovation Center, from its workshop garage spaces -- hosting prototyping gear such as 3-D printers -- to its third-floor robotics lab isn’t "just a space to do the work. It’s also about networking."

A major part of the Center’s mission will be facilitating not only research, but its application and commercialization. That means offering low-cost lab space with no restrictions on types of use and unusually broad opportunities for corporate partnerships, since the property wasn’t financed with any tax-exempt capital.

“You’re always looking for a hybrid of ideas,” says Carnaroli, explaining why it's important to house diverse thinkers -- such as life-sciences faculty alongside robotics researchers -- in freewheeling co-working spaces. He hopes this will foster "that breakthrough that no-one’s seeing until that impromptu conversation at the coffee machine." 

The Center will open in multiple phases, including a new home for Penn's GRASP engineering lab next summer, with full completion of the new complex planned for spring 2016.

Given the adjacent Schuylkill River’s place in the heart of Philly’s manufacturing history, the Pennovation Center’s location is a symbol of the shift from the industrial economy to a "much more intellectual and modern economy," muses Carnaroli. "It’s very symbolic the way this property is about to be transformed."

Author: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Craig Carnaroli, The University of Pennsylvania

Millennium Dance takes over South Street's Pearl building

Do you want to get moving somewhere other than the mall on Black Friday this year? Philadelphia's own Millennium Dance Complex, taking over the old Pearl Arts & Crafts building at 417 South Street, promises to be open by November 28.

Lori Ramsay Long, who lives with her teenage daughter in Gloucester Township, N.J., is the newest owner and studio director of a Millennium Dance Complex franchise. There are currently eight locations operating or getting ready to open their doors, including spaces in Tokyo, North Hollywood, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City.

Long, an alum of Florida State University, Rowan University, Thomas Jefferson University and Drexel College of Medicine, has worked as a forensic scientist, ER nurse and biology professor -- and she also has 20 years’ experience in the dance and fitness world.

Long's first step towards opening Philly's Millennium franchise was her daughter’s love of dance. Kylie is currently a member of the Broadway Dance Center’s teen program, but it’s a killer commute. Before she was old enough to take a train or bus on her own, driving her to Manhattan and back "literally consumed every single weekend from Friday to Sunday," recalls Long.

Despite Philly being full of great dance programs and institutions, Long was always surprised that the city didn’t have any broadly accessible drop-in dance training center: that is, a roster of flexible, professionally-taught, one-time classes open to all instead of specific dance courses working toward a degree or recital.

Many dance enthusiasts, from busy working moms and dads to students, want "ongoing advanced education" in dance without enrolling in a specific course, explains Long.

Enter Philly’s new 39,000-square-foot space, which will offer 90-minute classes in a range of genres, all for $15 dollars each. So far, the Millennium brand is drawing choreographers and trainers who work with stars like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Usher and Beyonce.

The first floor will feature four dance studios. The second floor will boast a childcare space, and the third will host industry video and photo shoots. There will also be a 5,000-square-foot roof space and 7,000-square-foot basement under it all with a running track, tumbling mats and other fitness areas.

And that's just the first phase: the second, with a planned 2015 finish, will include a retail area, a spa and massage zone, performance rehearsal space, and event space available for rent.

"The South Street community really wanted something cultural in that building," something "artsy and eclectic," says Long. "The dance community is starving for this."

Author: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Lori Ramsay Long, Millennium Dance Complex

Community Design Collaborative charrette to spotlight empty schools

On November 14, Center City's Community Design Collaborative (CDC) will hold a special Reactivating Vacant Schools Design Charrette to help spark a new future for two recently-shuttered Philly schools: Old Frances Willard School at 1290 E. Orleans Street in Kensington, and the M. Hall Stanton School at 1523 W. Cumberland Street in Lower North Philadelphia.

According to Heidi Segall Levy, director of design services at the CDC, two teams (boasting about twelve professionals each, including architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and graphic and lighting designers) will be assigned to each school, for a total of four teams.

Because "the development of these sites is going to take awhile," Levy explains, each school will get one team focused on a short-term use solution, with "a low-cost way to activate those sites as soon as possible," and one team focused on a long-term plan for the space.

Short-term uses could include a farmers' market, urban farm or youth recreational space. Meanwhile, ongoing conversation with community partners in the charrette, including Community Ventures, Impact Services Corporation and the New Kensington CDC, point to a variety of long-term use possibilities. That could mean envisioning these sites "as something completely different from what they were," adds Levy, noting that the buildings may not continue as schools, but become a new type of "community anchor."
 
There is a special benefit to hosting charrettes -- versus other types of support, such as grants -- explains Levy, because charrettes are a more active way to build awareness through a wider cross-section of the city, with a focus on schools that did not elicit any interest from potential developers.

Levy hopes that the plans that come out of the charrette, which the CDC will develop into an accessible and actionable packet, "may grab the attention of developers for these sites, and ignite attention" for other empty schools facing a similar fate.
 
Plans developed through the CDC charrette model also lay the groundwork for locals' continued input, helping developers understand that it’s important to engage the community.
 
The charrette is happening with the help of a design team from KieranTimberlake Associates, LLP, as well as students from the Charter High School for Architecture and Design; partnerships with AIA Philadelphia and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.

While slots on the design teams are now full, the public is invited to a free presentation and panel discussion from 4 - 6 p.m. on November 14 at the Center for Architecture (1216 Arch Street); reception to follow. To RSVP, click here.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Heidi Segall Levy, The Community Design Collaborative

 

Get your hands dirty at the Love Your Park Fall Service Day

When we think of enjoying Philadelphia's parks, we usually think of spring and summer maintenance and activities. But as Fairmount Park Conservancy park stewardship coordinator Erin Engelstad insists, it’s just as important to help "put our park spaces to bed for the winter."

The Conservancy and the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation partner with city-wide volunteers twice a year for Love Your Park service days, one in the spring and one in the fall. The spring service day typically includes as many as 100 parks and 2,000 volunteers, while this year’s fall event, on Saturday, November 15, includes 75 parks so far. Engelstad expects about 1,000 volunteers to turn out across the city.

There’s a lot to do to keep our outdoor treasures looking good once winter looms. The first item of business is clearing out all those fallen leaves. Parks & Rec will be on hand with cleaned-out trash trucks ready to transport all the gathered leaves to the Philadelphia Recycling Center in Fairmount Park, where this year’s autumn color will become next year’s mulch.

If you love spring flowers, you can help plant crocus bulbs; volunteers will also pitch in to plant up to 200 new trees -- according to Engelstad, autumn is a great time to put them in the ground.

Helpers will include school groups -- kids, parents, and teachers from North Philadelphia’s Gesu School who will be working at Smith Memorial Playground.

"They’re excited to have a large group, because they want to make the biggest leaf pile in Fairmount Park," explains Engelstad.

And yes, even though it may make some extra work in the long run, the pile will be open to jumpers of all ages.  

Park organizers, who will manage the schedule and to-do lists at their individual parks, can provide gloves and tools, and no experience is necessary to pitch in. Residents are welcome to just show up, but they can give organizers a hand by signing up in advance online.

"It’s an opportunity for folks to get to know people in their neighborhood," adds Engelstad.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Erin Engelstad, Fairmount Park Conservancy

 

University City District ahead of schedule on reinvention of 40th Street Trolley Portal

University City District (UCD) is moving forward with its plans to revitalize the 40th Street Trolley Portal. The project is being led by Prema Gupta, the organization's director of planning and economic development.

If you've ever been to the 40th Street trolley stop, you probably know it’s not the most inviting or vibrant place in University City. That will soon change with the introduction of The Plaza, the first component in UCD's creative reimagining of the transit hub.

The Plaza will boast chairs, tables, benches, trees and planters, and even boulders for climbing and play. Designed as an amenity for local students, residents and SEPTA passengers, the space will also host ongoing UCD programming and events.

The second component of the portal, The Apron, will improve pedestrian access and replace surfaces around the tracks with seating walls bordering heaps of wildflowers and native plants selected to attract butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Gupta originally announced the project this past spring, and it looks like UCD will begin construction earlier than planned after raising an additional $1.4 million in funds for the effort.

"Because we’ve raised such significant funding, we’re really able to see this come to fruition sooner than we anticipated," says UCD representative Lori Brennan.

"Our work is what happens at ground level," adds UCD Policy and Research Manager Seth Budick, who is currently working on an ambitious public space survey. "We look to constantly make improvements to all the areas and spaces between developments and transit."

It's likely Budick's findings will lead to numerous project tweaks, as he continually oversees improvements to existing public spaces in University City.

"We’re studying in great detail how people are using these [public] spaces and what they’re doing there," he explains. "It’s an approach we’ve really taken to heart."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Lori Brennan and Seth Budick, University City District

 

Dust off your skates! The Rothman Ice Rink is coming to Dilworth Park

At a press event this past Wednesday, October 15, Center City District (CCD) President Paul Levy announced the upcoming Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park in front of City Hall.

Sponsored by its namesake orthopedic practice, the Rothman Institute, the new ice skating venue will open to the public on Friday, November 14. Along with Rothman, PNC Bank and local ABC affiliate WPVI have provided financial support for the rink, which will be erected atop Dilworth Park's 11,600-square-foot fountain. It will ve roughly the size of the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

All-day admission to the ice will be $3 for children and $4 for adults, with skate rentals available for $8. Open seven days a week, the venue will stay open on holidays and offer a four-week learn-to-skate program on Sunday mornings, along with additional events and programs coordinated by CCD.

Avid people-watchers and tired parents will be able relax on the PNC terrace, where they can enjoy coffee, pastries and sandwiches from José Garces’ Rosa Blanca Cuban Diner. Free Wi-Fi will remain available throughout the winter.

As a result of a competitive bidding process held by CCD earlier this year, Rink Management Service Corporation will operate the rink and offer group discounts, birthday party packages and private rentals. 

Held at noon, the press event allowed visitors to get a sense of just how popular Dilworth Park has become as the midday lunch crowd and tourists streamed into the brand new public space.

Other Dilworth Park updates were also provided: According to Levy, a lawn and more bench seating will be accessible this week, and the remainder of the park is set to open before Thanksgiving.

Information on Rothman Ice Rink events and other updates are available at dilworthpark.com.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Paul Levy, Center City District

 

Cafe and DVD rental shop coming to Broad and Tasker in South Philly

Temple film school grad Dan Creskoff might be best known for his eighteen-year stint as a manager of two TLA Video locations.

"People would come to TLA and hang out for an hour," he recalls, "and just talk about movies."

Creskoff came to cherish the relationships he formed there.

It wasn’t long after the closing of TLA's brick-and-mortar stores that the cinefile began running into some of his old customers around town. The resulting conversations made Creskoff realize that there was a need for that sort of shared space. With that in mind, he began working on his new business, CineMug.

CineMug, a cafe that will also contain a DVD rental shop and function as quasi-clubhouse for film lovers, is due to open at 1607 S. Broad Street sometime later this fall. The roughly 800-square-foot cafe -- formerly a wireless phone shop turned doctor’s office -- will operate seven days a week. CineMug will also host weekly movie screenings.

Buildout is nearly complete. Creskoff describes the space as "having that living room vibe of hanging out with people you like and talking about things that interest you." Custom reclaimed wood countertops will give the cafe a casual and inviting feel, he adds.

In addition to a carefully curated collection of DVDs that will also be available for online and mobile perusing -- think must-see classics, cult films, documentaries, and plenty of arthouse and indie features -- CineMug will be serving up Fishtown’s ReAnimator Coffee alongside its own housemade chai and iced tea.

Cafe staples like bagels, spreads, pastries and baked goods will also be available, and the full CineMug menu will feature signature dips and sandwiches from South Philly favorite Cosmi's Deli.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Dan Creskoff, CineMug
 
 

UCD's annual report sheds light on development trends and the community narrative

On Wednesday, October 15, University City District (UCD) will present its annual State of University City report to a select group of representatives from neighborhood institutions, real estate development groups, small business owners and residents.

In over 70 pages worth of eye-catching charts, graphs and text, the report tells the story of a vibrant and growing submarket that continues to attract a steady stream of educated individuals, innovative startups, creative entrepreneurs and civic-minded businesses.

Some highlights of this year’s report include an explosion of multi-family residential development, an unprecedented 96 percent office occupancy rate, a growing interest in transportation and transit, investment by the University of Pennsylvania in both research facilities and community placemaking destinations, and significant growth in Drexel’s innovation neighborhood near 30th Street Station.

The report also expands on the development plans for the 40th Street Trolley Portal, including the success of UCD fundraising efforts to create a pedestrian-friendly park there.

To create the document, policy and research manager Seth Budick compiles vast amounts of data from UCD’s institutional and business partners, alongside its own in-depth studies and analysis of pedestrian counts, retail occupancy and public space usage.

"What we’re really seeing is a flocking of people and businesses who recognize the value of being close to the density of innovation that’s going on in University City," he explains.

As in previous years, printed reports will be distributed to institutional partners, real estate professionals, local organizations, government representatives and residents, who, according to UCD's Lori Brennan, "use [it] as a recruitment tool for filling office vacancies, and attracting retailers and restaurateurs to open up spaces [in University City]."

The report will be available online on October 16.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Sources: Seth Budick and Lori Klein Brennan, University City District

 

Skateboarding role models honored at the first annual Paine's Park fundraiser

On the first evening of October, as the sun slowly descended over Paine's Park, a group of onlookers gathered to watch dozens of skaters grind and kick-flip their way through the 16-month-old, $4.5 million skateboard park, located just off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway adjacent to the Schuylkill River.
 
Nearby, skateboarding supporters mingled between an open bar and a silent auction featuring skateboard decks, hotel packages and skate-themed art.
 
The occasion was Street Level, the inaugural fundraising and skate-culture event benefiting the Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund. The organization is responsible for constructing free public skateparks throughout the city, including Paine's Park. Perhaps more importantly, Franklin's Paine works to empower skateboarders through various community engagement programs and advocacy efforts.
 
"The [organization's] focus for so long was about concrete and bricks," says Franklin's Paine Executive Director Josh Dubin, explaining the genesis of the event, which featured skating demos and a deejay. "But now that it's built, we needed an event that celebrated the people who skate, and all the benefits that come to a community when it supports and nurtures skateboarding as a dynamic force."
 
The proceeds raised by the event will be folded back into the nonprofit organization's fund; Franklin's Paine is currently working to build a skatepark in Nicetown. But as Dubin pointed out, the most crucial aspect of the shindig was its focus "on the places skateboarding can take you if that passion is nurtured and supported."     
 
A number of skateboarding role models were recognized, including Joel Zwicky, a Wisconsin police officer who patrols on a longboard, and Skateistan Founder Oliver Percovich, who uses the sport to positively affect the lives of disenfranchised youth in developing countries.
 
Visit Franklin's Paine online to make a donation.
 
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Josh Dubin, Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund 
 

Turning park users into park supporters at annual GLOW in the Park bash

The Fairmount Park Conservancy, which works to preserve and improve the park system through the city, is certainly no slouch when it comes to fundraising. Its $500-a-head Centennial Celebration, for instance, takes place each May and generally brings in about $500,000, or half the organization's annual operating budget.   
 
Which is all well and good. After all, city parks can't operate without competent management and regular maintenance, neither of which come cheap. But the Conservancy's board wants to engage a broader swath of Philadelphia. Four years ago, they started discussing ways to connect with the next generation of park champions. The result was the development of a more accessible event. 

"Everybody's a park user in the Philadelphia region, and we found that so many people want to support the parks," says Conservancy Executive Director Kathryn Ott Lovell. "So why not offer an alternative opportunity?"
 
That alternative opportunity, known as GLOW in the Park, now happens at the beginning of each fall season.
 
The third installment is scheduled to kick off at dusk on October 9. The Strawberry Mansion Music Pavilion in East Fairmount Park will be aglow with lights and the entertainment will include live music and "unusual performances." (Fire dancers have been featured at previous GLOW in the Park incarnations.)

In a nod to the Music Pavilion's heyday at the start of the 1900s, entertainment with an early twentieth-century theme will also be on offer.     
 
And while the Conservancy expects to raise about $45,000 from this year's GLOW, fundraising is not the event's only goal: it's also about recruiting and engaging people who use Philadelphia parks on a regular basis.

"We see this as an opportunity to turn park users into park supporters," explains Lovell.
 
Tickets are $75 and include a one-year Conservancy membership.
 
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Kathryn Ott Lovell, Fairmount Park Conservancy

 

Landmark $60 million investment to boost Free Library

The Free Library of Philadelphia has announced a $60 million multi-branch development initiative. It will involve not only the significant renovation and expansion of the Parkway Central Library, but of five initial prototype libraries throughout the city. Each will be modernized with the specific needs of their communities in mind.
 
Known as "Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries," the multi-faceted plan will be funded in part by $4.5 million from the City of Philadelphia and a historic $25 million gift from the William Penn Foundation. According to a release, the funds from William Penn represent "the largest private gift ever received by the Library."  
 
According to Director and President Siobhan Reardon, the concept for "Building Inspiration" grew from the Free Library's Strategic Plan (PDF) -- essentially a reorganizational effort drawn up after the Library lost roughly 20 percent of its funding from the City and the Commonwealth in 2008 and 2009.
 
Part of that plan involved looking at the ways in which technology is altering basic library services.

"The changes we've announced are all about how to create an engaging 21st-century library in an older building," explains Reardon.

At the 87-year-old Parkway Central branch, for instance, an 8,000-square-foot area called The Common will be designed by architect Moshe Safdie to operate as a flexible and active community gathering space. The South Philadelphia Library will be fitted with a 'Health Information and New Americans' room. The Logan Library will be getting a family literacy center. The Lovett Memorial, Tacony and Lillian Marrero branches will also see progressive improvements.
 
"I think what you're going to find interesting at the neighborhood libraries is a very open experience," says Reardon, who adds that most branches should reopen in late 2016. "It's going to be a much more civically-engaged social learning environment."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Siobhan Reardon, Free Library of Philadelphia

 

As the Science Center expands, plans emerge to upgrade the campus' livability

On September 12, the 51-year-old University City Science Center celebrated the latest addition to its ever-expanding West Philadelphia campus, now home to more than two million square feet of lab and office space.
 
Known as 3737 Science Center and located at 3737 Market Street, the 13-story glass tower was developed jointly by the Science Center and Wexford Science & Technology. The $115 million building is already at 82 percent capacity.
 
Indeed, interest in the space from potential life-science and healthcare tenants was so consistently strong throughout construction that an extra two floors (over the originally-planned 11) were added to the plan.
 
Spark Therapeutics, a gene therapy startup, is occupying the building's top floor. With Penn Medicine as the anchor tenant, other residents include the Penn Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine and, in the tower's ground-floor retail space, the Corner Bakery Cafe, which is expected to open by the end of this year.
 
3737 Science Center is the campus' 16th building. At nearby 3601 Market Street, the Science Center is currently constructing a 20-story, $110 million residential tower, which broke ground last year. That high-rise, according to President and CEO Stephen Tang, is part of the campus' current philosophy "to be a place to live, work and play," he says. "Not just work, which is quite frankly what we've been doing for most of our 51-year history."  
 
"We're trying to become a world-class innovation center across University City and not just across the Science Center's campus," he adds. "We really want to be a vibrant center. And that includes attracting smart, creative and innovative people to our campus to live, as well as to work."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Stephen Tang, University City Science Center

The University City Science Center
 has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia.

Franklin Mills announces major redevelopment project, and a new name to boot

The 25-year-old, 200-store shopping mall and outlet center formerly known as Franklin Mills has announced a major redevelopment project, and a new name to boot.

The mall, which was originally developed by the Mills Corporation which is now owned and operated by Simon Property Group (which also owns the King of Prussia Mall), has been renamed Philadelphia Mills.  
 
According to The Mills President Gregg Goodman, Simon Property Group had been actively working on plans to upgrade and update the property since as far back as 2007, when it acquired the mall. New customer amenities, he says, were always part of that plan.

Along with mall-wide Wi-Fi, lounge areas with device changing stations will be installed when interior renovations begin early next year.

"The long and short of what we're doing should add up to a completely new shopping experience," he insists.               

New landscaping, updated signage and a modernized façade will all play major roles in the redevelopment. And the mall's interior will be considerably brightened thanks to new flooring and skylights. Even the restrooms will be renovated, and roughly a dozen new retail stores and eateries, including Express Factory Outlet, will be added.     
 
As for the mall's name change -- the original moniker was a nod to Benjamin Franklin -- Goodman says it was led by a formal branding study.

"But in the end, the reason we went with 'Philadelphia Mills' is probably the most straightforward of all reasons -- the fact that we're actually in the city of Philadelphia," he explains. "Not a lot of people realize that. But we're proud of it, and wanted a name that was emblematic of that."   
 
A grand reopening event is tentatively scheduled to take place at the Bucks County-bordering Philadelphia Mills sometime in fall 2015.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Gregg Goodman, The Mills
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