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On the Ground: Strawberry Mansion is home to PHS's first solar-powered Green Resource Center

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) Strawberry Mansion Green Resource Center became the first PHS Resource Center to operate on solar power thanks to a $40,000 gift from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. The Center is across the road from Strawberry Mansion High School in Flying Kite’s current On the Ground neighborhood.

Originally founded through Green Mountain Energy Company in 2002, the Sun Club is now a separate nonprofit.  

"We have been a partner of PHS for a number of years," says Jason Sears, an executive for the organization. "They introduced us to the opportunity out at Strawberry Mansion High School, and we’ve been working with them on that for about a year now."

The new 10-kilowatt solar array will include over 30 panels on top of a shade structure in the site’s community garden. (The greenhouse is still under construction.) The electricity from the panels will power all kinds of appliances for the site’s plant-growing and vegetable-washing stations.

The Sun Club takes a broad view of sustainability -- it doesn’t just mean renewable power or energy efficiency. It includes community-wide factors: access to food, transportation and job-training, all of which the nonprofit wants to support.
Sears appreciates projects like the Strawberry Mansion installation because it’s putting green energy in the hands of local residents. Solar panels are durable, and with little more than a rinse every year or two, they can last for up to 30 years.

"When people understand that renewable energy isn’t this mythical ephemeral idea, it’s very real and very powerful," he says.

PHS Director of Garden Projects Nancy Kohn says power from the new panels will affect up to forty different gardening sites city-wide. PHS currently has four Green Resource Centers besides the one under construction in Strawberry Mansion which propagate seedlings for participating gardeners across Philadelphia (a sixth center is planned for South Philly). About 50,000 seedlings from the newly solar-powered facility in Strawberry Mansion will grow throughout the city each year.

The site includes community garden plots as well as educational beds for Strawberry Mansion High School students -- they grow food there and incorporate the produce into cooking and nutrition classes.

Kohn estimates that construction on the Strawberry Mansion Green Resource Center, a member site of PHS’s City Harvest, will wrap up by August.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Jason Sears, Green Mountain Energy Sun Club; Nancy Kohn, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Joynture Work Habitat comes to the Pearl Building on South Street

In autumn 2014, the former Pearl Arts & Crafts building on South Street got new life as a dance and fitness complex, but the venture was short-lived. Now, a co-working space focused on young and growing companies is set to open in May.

Joynture Work Habitat, which operates under the umbrella of software design and development company EWS, already has one location on Wall Street in New York City; it will open another in Lahore, Pakistan this year.

EWS Vice President of Business Development and Joynture co-founder Kyle Riggle says the company has been looking to expand to Philly for the last year.

"The reason we’re interested in Philly is just because the tech scene here is really starting to come alive," says Riggle. "I think that’s kind of the market we like to go after."

The hunt for a space began in Center City and then moved to Old City without turning up the right spot in terms of size, price, lease length and "a landlord willing to work with the type of business that we want to run," explains Riggle. "That’s not easy to find."

A Northern California native who came to the East Coast to attend Columbia University, Riggle lived in New York City for the past six years before buying a house in Philly’s Point Breeze neighborhood. He was strolling South Street one day late last year with his brother when he saw a sign in the Pearl building window. He met with the owner the next day for a tour.

"It had a lot of character and a lot of potential," he recalls. "Right when I saw it, I knew I could do something cool with it if I could make the numbers work."

The lease for Joynture’s new Philly location was finalized last December.

With the support of EWS, members will have access to a host of technical resources: membership benefits include big discounts from Amazon Web Services, Zipcar, UPS, B & H, and more.

The space will be a mix of private offices available for rent and co-working space. There will be an event area on the first floor and offices on the second. The 9,000-square-foot third floor can be tailored for multiple tenants looking for anything from 500 to 2,000 square feet. Startups interested in getting into the new Joynture space can e-mail [email protected] to get the ball rolling.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Kyle Riggle, Joynture Work Habitat


As winter approaches, a Philly company makes programming the thermostat easier than ever

Energy-saving systems in large commercial buildings are already commonplace -- albeit expensive to install -- and many single-family homes have power-conserving programmable thermostats. But according to StratIS CEO Felicite Moorman, over 90 percent of homeowners who install those thermostats don’t maximize their savings by actually programming them. 

The East Falls-based StratIS was founded in 2013 as an offshoot of BuLogics, which Moorman also helms. With a focus on multi-family buildings, hotels and campus residences, the energy-saving software company wants to take the intimidation out of programming a greener, more cost-effective usage schedule, and put an easy version of the technology in the hands of owners, managers and their tenants.

“In the last four months, we’ve installed [in] 40,000 apartments," says Moorman; this includes clients in 40 states. The company’s largest single deployment to date is 65,000 wireless devices in 2,700 rooms in Las Vegas’s Wynn Hotel and Casino.

"[It's] an energy efficiency, energy management and energy control app that was specifically created for multi-family and campus communities," she explains. That means a range of wireless devices connected to things like lamps, thermostats, HVAC systems and even door locks that property owners, managers, and residents can control with a simple app.

In the case of individual apartments, renters can use the StratIS technology to customize their at-home power needs. This can be done either on a timed schedule through the app (with residents programming reduced power usage during office hours, for example), or the app can connect to a door lock device which activates a power-down mode synced to the moment a resident steps out the door. You'll never leave a light on again.

Meanwhile, property managers can remotely power up or down any individual unit in the building, as in the case of empty units or an apartment they’re getting ready to show.

Hotel, campus, and multi-family complex owners and managers pay as little as $100 for the installation of a StratIS-enabled thermostat, with a fee of $1 per month per device (this flexible in the case of low-income housing due to the company’s social and environmental mission).

Moorman says the "future-proofed" StratIS system -- meaning the hardware can be easily updated as technology changes or advances -- can save users up to 20 percent on their energy bills. That’s a big selling point since many leases include electricity costs in a flat rental payment.  

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Felicite Moorman, StratIS

3.0 University Place will rise one block away from 40th Street Portal

University Place Associates (UPA), the developer behind University Place 2.0 at 30 N. 41st Street, has an even more ambitious green office building in the works. The plans for University Place 3.0 -- slated to rise at the corner of 41st and Market, just a block from the 40th Street SEPTA transit hub -- were announced in mid-October.

UPA founder Scott Mazo touts the building’s bonafides: According to UPA, it’s the world’s first commercial office building to get a platinum precertification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program before it’s even broken ground.

On October 15, a launch ceremony for 3.0 held at 2.0 University Place featured words from Mazo, U.S. Green Building Council President Roger Platt, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Hughes.

The five-story building, which UPA ultimately hopes will draw one to three anchor office tenants, and retail and restaurant tenants for the ground floor, will feature the latest in green technology, from fresh-air circulation and filtration systems to energy-saving glass to cutting-edge heating and cooling systems, not to mention a WIFI-enabled green roof open to all workers.

"I realize that 3.0 is not going to be for everybody," says Mazo. "But what we really want is a company that’s trying to say not just to the world but to its future tenants and employees…'We’re living it, we want to make a statement, [an] impact to the environment, and we’re making a statement with our actions.'"

3.0 will ultimately offer almost 190,000 square feet of space, and incorporate stormwater management with a modular green roof system and rooftop garden, and common area power derived from solar and wind energy. Once completed, the building will form part of what UPA hopes will be an entire "platinum corridor" of eco-friendly Market Street buildings; its exterior will feature electrochromic SageGlass.

Embedded with tiny low-voltage electrical wires, SageGlass can respond to the rays of the sun and shift its tint to block glare while preserving or deflecting the sun's heat, depending on the season. This results in significant energy savings and plenty of natural light for the people working inside, without the help of blinds or shades.

It also means that from the outside, the building will change its shade and hue throughout the day.

"I thought that was such a cool feature that will make this building stand out," enthuses Mazo, "an iconic symbol of the transformation that we’re trying to make on Market Street."

And the timeline for construction?

Hard to pinpoint right now, says Mazo. It depends on when they can secure an anchor office tenant. That could be one tenant for all four floors, or one tenant to occupy about 100,000 square feet (three floors), with one or two more tenants using the remaining space. If plans for a full-building user don’t immediately materialize, one tenant renting 100,000 square feet would be enough to move forward with the groundbreaking. Mazo estimates that construction on 3.0 could take a year to 18 months, and it’s possible they could have shovels in the dirt by April 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Scott Mazo, University Place Associates


Big News: UCity Square will transform West Philadelphia

The University City Science Center has embarked on a major expansion that, over the next 10 to 15 years, will add 10 new buildings, remap West Philadelphia and create what Science Center President Stephen S. Tang calls a "community of ingenuity where bright minds can flourish and thrive."
The recently announced uCity Square will be a vast mixed-use development featuring residential, lab and office buildings, maker space, retail offerings and green space. The so-called "Innovation District," surrounded by universities, research institutions, hospitals and a concentration of highly skilled workers, will be a magnet for thinkers and doers.
Dignitaries including Mayor Michael Nutter gathered last week on the roof of a Market Street parking garage overlooking what was once University City High School. The now-cleared, 14-acre site is at the heart of uCity Square, which will ultimately range roughly from Ludlow Street (just south of Market) north to Lancaster and Powelton Avenues and from 34th to 38th streets.
A partnership between the Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology, the megadevelopment will add 10 new buildings totaling four million square feet to the Science Center’s existing 17 buildings, bringing the campus to a total of 6.5 million square feet. The parking garage where the announcement was made, 3665 Market, will be replaced with a new lab and low-rise residential building.
The new project will also redraw the map of University City by reintroducing the original street grid. Notably, the long missing-in-action 37th Street will be reinstated from Market to Lancaster and several east-west streets will also be brought back. The idea is to provide easy pedestrian access between communities such as Powelton Village and Mantua to the Science Center and University of Pennsylvania, and from Drexel University to the east. On a larger scale, the new complex will also leverage the continuing westward movement of the city’s commercial heart beyond Center City.
"Today, uCity Square is home to the Science Center, our programs, and our vast ecosystem of scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators," enthuses Tang. "Tomorrow, uCity Square will be a true mixed-use community comprised of office and lab space for companies of all sizes, while adding more amenities and services for residents and neighbors to the mix, such as shopping, dining and housing. It will also be a linchpin that connects the neighborhoods to our north and west to the rest of University City."

Writer: Elise Vider
Source: University City Science Center


Philadelphia region will be home to the Northeast's first Advanced Data Center

Most of us can use a computer application -- from Facebook, to an insurance exchange to a data store for a research project -- without thinking about the servers where all that information actually lives. Right now, all of the U.S.’s advanced data centers (ADCs) operate from Florida or locations in the Southwest. Keystone NAP wants to change all that by opening the Northeast’s first ADC in Pennsylvania's own Fairless Hills.

Currently, the major metros in the Northeast -- New York, Boston, Philadelphia -- have what Keystone NAP founder and CEO Peter Ritz calls "plain old data centers," which were adequate as recently as the 1990s, but in today’s web-scale world can't cut it.

"In the last two years, we have created more data, more bits of data…than all the time before that," explains Ritz. He compares today’s old data centers to telephone landlines: adequate for doing business ten or fifteen years ago, but rapidly growing obsolete.

The servers at those centers don’t have the capacity and scalability that today’s up-and-coming tech giants (and local mid-sized businesses) need, and with a single connection to a traditional power grid, they’re vulnerable.

Remember Hurricane Sandy?

"People don’t think about it, but what happened there is that people had a single source of connection to the grid in their data center," he says of widespread computer system outages after the storm. "They had to pray and they had to beg to make sure they would get the diesel fuel delivery."

Keystone NAP's ADC will have the data service capacity to house the equivalent of eight Googles. It's special not just because of its location and its data capacity, but because of its innovative approach to power.

"It’s the steel-forging shoulders that we stand on," says Ritz of how the region’s historical infrastructure makes this possible. Instead of a single connection to the power grid, the Keystone NAP facility will operate with the help of five distinct power sources, including gas turbines and a nearby trash-to-steam plant burning refuse from a local landfill.

Ritz describes the individual servers as looking like rectangular pizza boxes, stacked as many as forty high in specialized shelving. It all generates enormous heat: fifty percent of any data center’s energy budget goes to cooling those servers with air or water-based systems.

Because not every business's server has the same energy needs, Keystone NAP is offering a uniquely secure and modular approach to power dubbed KeyBlocks. It’s common for a data center to host multiple entities’ servers, but bringing that eco-friendly customization to the powering of the diverse servers is another thing that sets the facility apart.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Peter Ritz, Keystone NAP


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

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.

UPenn's South Bank Master Plan aims to bring innovation to the Lower Schuylkill

Last week, the University of Pennsylvania made public its plans to construct a research park on 23 acres of land formerly owned by DuPont in the Lower Schuylkill section of Grays Ferry. The parcel is now being referred to as "the South Bank."
Flying Kite has reported extensively on the long-range development plans for the Lower Schuylkill River, but no announcement has generated as much public chatter and excitement as the recent one from Penn; it is just one small ingredient in a much larger campus development recipe known as Penn Connects 2.0, a so-called master plan "which has added nearly 3 million square feet of space to Penn’s campus since 2006," according to a release.   
One of the highlights of the South Bank will be a business incubator and accelerator called the Pennovation Center. (Current tenants will remain onsite after renovations begin.) That complex will feature lab space and a collaborative technology-transfer ecosystem that Penn hopes will eventually infuse the entire South Bank campus.  
According to Penn's Executive Director of Real Estate Ed Datz, the campus will be available to a wide range of users, from startups that grow out of university research to those without any previous university affiliation. The master plan, designed by Philadelphia-based firm WRT, creates a framework with initial development focused on light industrial and flex-use buildings. 

"The one consistent is the opportunity to let young, upstart companies have space -- at a reasonable rate -- to gather, to share ideas, and to advance their particular discipline," says Datz.

While an exact construction timeline hadn't been revealed, the multi-phase renovation work at the South Bank site may begin as early as this fall.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Ed Datz, University of Pennsylvania

Inventing the Future: University City Science Center adds residential units to its campus

For the first time in its 50 year history, the Science Center is launching a residential project on its University City campus. Slated for 3601 Market Street, the 27-story high rise will be a joint venture between Wexford Equities, parent company of Wexford Science & Technology, and Southern Land Company. Construction is expected to start in the fall, kicking off the first of what Science Center officials anticipate to be a boomlet of residential and mixed-use projects in the coming years.
The 400,000-square-foot building will feature 364 apartments and 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail—something Science Center President and CEO Stephen S. Tang, PhD, MBA, hopes will make the campus and its environs just as lively by night as it is by day.
"We observed similar innovation hubs in Toronto, Mission Bay in San Francisco and Cambridge," says Tang, explaining that what separates those places from the Science Center is a residential component to activate the campus, creating a more dynamic environment. "It might sound silly to say, but you really do need people to make a community. That’s the component were adding at 36th and Market."
This project is the first step towards creating the 24/7 "live, work, play" neighborhood they’re after. "This project is going to be complete around Spring 2015," says Tang. "From there, we’ll turn our attention to 38th and Market. It’s the only other major space open on campus right now." At that site, Tang expects another 700,000 square-feet worth of mixed-use development.
With these two projects, and others, in the pipeline, the Science Center continues to contribute to University City-wide efforts aimed at creating a world-class innovation environment.
"With the Science Center’s goals, Drexel’s vision to create an innovation neighborhood and Penn’s ongoing efforts at developing mixed-use projects, we’re working in concert to create a community of innovators and entrepreneurs," says Tang. "Over the next few years, we want to rival Center City in vibrancy." 
Source: Stephen A. Tang, President and CEO, University City Science Center
WriterGreg Meckstroth

Power Play: URBN sets new standards for sustainable building

On December 17, URBN will take its sustainability practices to new heights with the installation of an alternative energy source at its home office in the Navy Yard. Called fuel cell technology, the new system is expected to cover 60 of URBN’s electrical usage, significantly reduce CO2 emissions and provide a return on investment within five years. 
Fuel cell technology is not a new discovery—it has been around since the mid-1800s. But it wasn’t until recently that utilizing the technology made financial sense, thanks to the work of a California-based company, Bloom Energy, specializing in on-site power generating systems using fuel cells. By leveraging breakthrough advances in science, Bloom Energy has made fuel cell technology affordable, reliable and clean.
"URBN has been researching alternative energy—wind, solar, fuel cells—for a long time, but until now we’ve never been able to make the financial component work," says Chief Development Officer Dave Ziel on the company's blog.   
Ziel put together an alternative energy committee to research different sources of energy and their related financial burden. After looking at a number of options, the committee agreed that fuel cells were the way to go for the company’s home office. They began working with Bloom Energy to develop a system specific to URBN’s needs.
The committee attained a $1.2 million alternative energy grant from the State of Pennsylvania and a $400,000 custom incentive grant from PECO to offset the costs. 
"The timing of this project was very fortuitous because there were incentives available," explains Pete Epstein, construction project manager with URBN and member of Ziel’s alternative energy committee. "The state was looking to support projects like this and PIDC [Philadelphia Industrial Development Coorporation], the stewards of the Navy Yard who had simultaneously launched green initiatives, were very interested in helping us apply for grants when they heard about what we were doing." 
Construction on the project began in August 2011 and early construction is expected to be complete this week. If all goes according to plan, URBN will soon become one of the first east coast companies to use fuel cell technology, capping off their biggest green effort to date. Considering the company’s long held devotion to sustainability at their Navy Yard campus, that’s no small feat.

Source: Dave Ziel, Chief Development Officer, URBN; Pete Epstein, Construction Project Manager, URBN 
WriterGreg Meckstroth

Young Guns: Temple Launches Apps and Maps Studio

Philadelphia’s urban complexities can sometimes seem overwhelming, but thanks to the efforts at Temple’s Urban Apps and Maps Studios, grappling with these complicated issues might soon be possible in the palm of your hand. 
Over the next three summers, high school and college-age students will take part in a six-week program to learn digital design and business skills, with a dozen of them working year-round to develop apps and maps that solve challenges of urban communities.   
A central goal of the program is connecting the students with underserved North Philadelphia communities, engaging them with the design challenges. According to Michele Masucci, professor and chair of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University, it was this community outreach component of the project that caught the eye of the Knight Foundation—they are providing a $635,000 grant. "The issues to be solved come from community input," explains Masucci. "Knight thought this was fantastic and wanted to get involved."
Thanks to the Knight grant—as well as the initial U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration grant that jumpstarted the program last year—the Urban Apps and Maps Studio is fully funded for at least the next three years. Masucci believes the benefits of the program will guarantee funding for years to come. "The youth of this country are one of the largest digital consumer groups," she says. "This program brings them to the table to also be digital innovators."
The program also broadens students' educational and professional horizons by connecting them with Temple’s vast resources. In an unprecedented model of collaboration, faculty from Temple’s Fox School of Business, College of Science and Technology, College of Engineering and Tyler School of Art have lent their expertise to the Studio’s efforts to create, implement and eventually sell the apps and maps.   
A number of apps and maps have already been created. These include an app for urban farming, an urban health warriors game app that helps increase health awareness and a game to educate youth about personal finance.

Over the next few years, expect even more innovative solutions to emerge from the Studio. Accoring to Masucci, the University will continue to work with the Philadelphia School District and the Philadelphia Youth Network to identify and recruit students from North Philadelphia to take part in the Studio. Over the coming years, they are aiming to expand the program to other parts of Philadelphia as well.

Source: Michele Masucci, professor and chair of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple
WriterGreg Meckstroth

Eleven-story tower coming to 38th and Market will solidify meds & eds cred, expand healthcare access

Flanked on both sides with Philly’s tallest skyscrapers, Market Street West is best known for its urban canyon qualities.  Lately, these characteristics have reached new heights with the addition of a number of towers and institutional buildings along the corridor.  This trend seems to be continuing further west, this time at the northeast corner of 38th and Market in University City.  The development, an 11-story, 272,700 square foot tower is a joint venture between the University City Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology.
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center will take up the bulk of the building, occupying approximately 155,700 square feet for orthopedics and outpatient medical facilities.  Good Shepherd Penn Partners will occupy an additional floor and a half.  The Science Center and Wexford will control the remaining 88,000 square feet. 
Currently, the Science Center is largely known as the largest urban research park in the United States.  Adding Penn Presbyterian onto their campus strengthens this reputation, and according to James R. Berens, Chairman, Wexford Science + Technology, LLC, it also advances the idea of establishing University City as a world class Meds and Eds hub.  “The project, as a mix of clinical, research and office uses, is a perfect match to the Science Center’s mission and Wexford’s capabilities -- and is a great opportunity to cultivate University City and Philadelphia’s innovation cluster,” says Berens in a press release statement. 
Solidifying University City as a tech hub isn’t the only benefit from the project.  Expect improved access to medical care for much of West Philly, says Michele Volpe, CEO of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in a press release statement.  “This expansion will provide PPMC faculty and staff with the infrastructure necessary to better serve the Powelton Avenue, West Philadelphia, and even the Greater Philadelphia communities.”    
Cranes should rise this September, with an expected completion date of June 2014.  Once finished, the building is anticipated to receive LEED Silver certification.    

Source: James Berens, Wexford Science + Technology
Writer: Greg Meckstroth

Jobs follow households: Bentley, Fiberlink come to Center City for young, educated tech workers

The term ‘sprawl’ typically conjures up images of McMansions in the middle of cornfields, bumper-to-bumper highway congestion, or big-box retailers dotting the landscape.  Often left out of this picture are office uses that have followed residents out to their suburban and exurban homesteads, at the expense of central business districts (CBD).  In Philadelphia, for example, the highly walkable, transit-served, amenity rich CBD has seen its regional office share decline from 41% in 1993 to 28% in 2011.  The State of Center City, 2012 report outlines numerous reasons for this decline, most prominently citing the City’s outdated tax structure as the culprit, and recommends comprehensive tax reform to remediate the issue.
This has been a cause for concern for Philly boosters and urban enthusiasts alike.  As Center City continues to grow in popularity as a place to live and play, jobs continue leaving for greener pastures, GlaxoSmithKline vacating its CBD digs for the Navy Yard being a recent example.  This trend has left many unanswered questions regarding the future of Center City:  is Center City becoming a bedroom community, how will this affect public transportation use, and what will an increase in reverse-commuting do to our road systems?   
While some have been hitting the ‘future of Center City’ panic button rather hard, more recently, there has been increased cause for optimism.  Two notable tech/software firms, Bentley Systems’ and Fiberlink, have announced plans to relocate their operations to Center City, both citing a desire to be nearer to the younger, well-educated Center City residents who value the live-work setting.    
These two firms are clearly onto something, following what their workers already want: according to Center City District reports, between 2000 and 2009, Philly added over 16,000 people ages 25 to 34, with a college degree or more, to Center City or nearby ‘hoods.  In fact, Center City boasts the third highest downtown resident population of any United States city, sitting only behind New York’s and Chicago’s CBD’s.  
As antiquated and rigid as the State of Center City report suggests Philly’s tax structure is, a driving force here is simply the ‘jobs follows households’ phenomenon that was popularized by the decentralization of residents and jobs following World War II and something that now seems to be reversing.  The more Philly can attract and retain those wanting to live in Center City and its environs, the more jobs that cater to them will follow.  So while the tax structure likely needs restructuring, so too does the region’s focus on the importance of migration and attracting urbanites to continue populating Philly’s core.      

Writer: Greg Meckstroth

SEPTA video campaign aims for more young riders

Do you SEPTA?

Yes, you heard right, SEPTA is now a verb. This is one of many messages SEPTA pushes in its new video campaign "I SEPTA Philly," which features SEPTA riders under the age of 35 discussing how safe, clean, simple to use, sustainable, and affordable SEPTA is. The campaign recognizes that young adults are generally opting to ride mass transit more often and live in cities, as well as the city's rising population of young people.

I SEPTA Philly consists of a mix of on-the-street interviews and submitted videos. Many of the on-the-street interviews were conducted at 15th and Market Sts. and the 40th St. trolley portal. The effort kicked off in early-April, and is expected to last until September. Riders who produce their own videos are entered into a contest to win free SEPTA passes, concert tickets, and even a trip to a music festival in Las Vegas. I SEPTA was created in conjunction with a few radio stations, including KYW Newsradio and Radio 104.5.

Rich DiLullo, SEPTA’s recently retired marketing director who created the campaign, is ecstatic about the chance to market SEPTA to a demographic that studies have shown cares about mass transit. The agency is looking to "increase the awareness of SEPTA and its positive attributes among the younger generations," says DiLullo. He adds that SEPTA is especially eager to reach young adults who grew up in the suburbs with "helicopter parents," or those who chaperoned their children everywhere. DiLullo hopes that I SEPTA can encourage these young adults to be comfortable about riding SEPTA. 

The campaign currently features about 50 SEPTA riders between the ages of 18 and 34. The riders are a racially diverse bunch, although it seems like many of them live in Philadelphia, and not in the suburbs. Once again, this is likely SEPTA recognizing the re-localization trend that resulted in the city’s recent population uptick. DiLullo says he hopes to get about 15 more young adult participants in I SEPTA. SEPTA also maintains a Youth Advisory Counsel, which represents college students in the 18-34 bracket. 

According to DiLullo, Philadelphians over the age of 34 are more likely to have fixed transportation patterns. Conversely, younger adults are less likely to be stereotypical 9-5 commuters because of classes and part-time jobs. It also makes sense that adults between 18 and 34 would be more likely to use mass transit for recreation and shopping. 

This website could be “a real wonderful commentary on Philadelphia,” says DiLullo. 

Source: Rich DiLullo, SEPTA
Writer: Andy Sharpe

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