University City High School sat south of Lancaster Ave. between 36th St. and 38th St. from 1972 to 2015. The school was closed in 2013 after a vote by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. Drexel University purchased the 14-acre property in 2014 for $25.1 million and proceeded to demolish the building. Drexel has partnered with development company Wexford Science + Technology and with University City Science Center on a $1 billion mixed-use plan for the site. The multi-building project, which is being called uCity Square, includes 6.5 million square feet of residential, retail, office, clinical, educational, and laboratory spaces.
Plans for a 463-unit, mixed-use building at 3700 Lancaster Ave. on the uCity Square site were recently released in preparation for the project’s appearance before the Civic Design Review (CDR) on August 6th. The project includes 304,907 square feet of residential space, 13,856 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and 157 parking spaces. It looks like there will also be a pool for residents. The CDR application indicates that Wexford Science + Technology will be partnering with GMH Capital Partners on the project. If the CDR approves the plan, the project can proceed. However, as you likely know, the CDR does not have much power and can only make the development team attend a second meeting. The CDR cannot mandate any changes to the project.
We give this project a thumbs up. Although a taller building may have been able to be built on the CMX-4 zoned parcel, this mid-rise proposal should blend in better with the other buildings on Lancaster Avenue. The uCity Square buildings closer to Market St. are planned to be much taller.
One of our favorite parts of the uCity Square project is the introduction of two new streets to break up the former mega block: 37th St. and Cuthbert St. Behind the 463 unit project, Warren St. has been turned into a pedestrian-only pathway. We hope the new streets include adequate pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
We are excited to see this stretch of Lancaster Avenue activated with more people and businesses lining the street. We will be covering a bunch of the other uCity Square projects in the coming months and years. We look forward to seeing this section of University City explode with energy as new people, businesses, and retailers join the neighborhood. How do you feel about this mega project?