Billions of dollars in new development will shape the region for years to come
2023 is shaping up to be a consequential year for new development in Philadelphia. A number of major projects that survived economic headwinds are set to open while others face an uncertain future due to the economy and, in some cases, community resistance.
Center City will continue to see new office and residential buildings. Meanwhile, a full pipeline of projects in University City and the suburbs are expected to make significant progress. Long-term projects and sprawling campuses will look to break ground and secure their first tenants this year.
How all that development comes together could shape the Philadelphia region for years to come, making the 23 projects listed below worth keeping an eye on in 2023. Here’s a look at where each stands and what progress could be made in the coming year:
The landmark Center City building was purchased by Lubert-Adler Partners in late 2021 with plans for an internal makeover. Office space will be turned into 200 to 300 apartments and the hotel will see upgrades with Parisian flair. A skating rink, swimming pool, and bar and restaurant will be installed on the rooftop. On the ground level, the retail space will be opened up into one expansive floor. Three restaurants are planned, with details of each expected to be announced in the first quarter of the year. The renovation project of the 119-year-old building is a bid to kickstart a renaissance of Broad and Walnut streets, Lubert-Adler CEO Dean Adler told the Business Journal after acquiring the building.
New Morgan Lewis building
Parkway Corp. is developing Morgan Lewis & Bockius’ new $200 million, 19-story headquarters at 2222 Market St. The core and shell of the building has been completed and Morgan Lewis is expected to move in around late summer. The new building is another strong sign for Center City’s vibrancy and the Central Business District. It also adds to a growing number of new projects near the Schuylkill River. Morgan Lewis’ lease at 1701 Market St. is set to expire in January 2024, at which point that 18-story building could be turned into apartments, industry sources told the Business Journal.
Parkway Corp.’s 31-story Center City apartment tower
While still in the approval phase, Parkway has proposed a 31-story luxury apartment tower on an existing parking lot at 21st and Ludlow streets. Plans call for 304 apartments, 15,600 square feet of first-floor retail and an underground parking garage. It’s in a part of Center City experiencing a wave of new development, and Parkway has been a major player in that.
1706-10 Walnut St.
Brooklyn-based Brookliv spent $12.5 million, according to property records, to buy three vacant parcels on the 1700 block of Walnut Street in Center City. With all three now consolidated under one owner, Brookliv CEO Ari Weber said he plans a luxury high-rise residential tower. The scope of the project, though, is still being determined. Weber wants to solidify plans in the next few months and begin construction in the next eight to 12 months. He also said he’s open to partnering with a local developer on the project. The property, encompassing 1706, 1708 and 1710 Walnut St., sits in a highly visible and bustling retail corridor and is surrounded by several other high-rise buildings.
76ers’ proposed arena at Fashion District
Though the 76ers’ proposed Center City arena wouldn’t open until 2031, the upcoming year could make or break the proposal. 76 Devcorp Chairman David Adelman, a Sixers part-owner who’s leading the arena development, said he’s targeting June to receive city approvals for the $1.3 billion project to move forward. The arena would be on Market Street between 10th and 11th streets. The proposal has received significant pushback from nearby Chinatown residents fearing the effects of traffic, gentrification and displacement. Adelman said he hopes a $50 million community benefits agreement paid to locals in the area would be completed before the zoning ordinance is proposed.
Jefferson Health Specialty Care Pavilion
Another building will be added to Center City’s skyline as Jefferson Health’s Specialty Care Pavilion nears completion. The region’s largest health system is targeting a spring 2024 opening of the $762 million, 20-floor Specialty Care Pavilion at 11th and Chestnut streets. The building will be known as the Honickman Center, thanks to a $50 million naming rights deal, and will be the centerpiece of Jefferson’s Philadelphia campus. The 462,000-square-foot building will house the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience and Korman Respiratory Institute, among others.
DELAWARE RIVER WATERFRONT
Durst developments along Delaware River
New York-based Durst Organization has been negotiating with the quasi-public Delaware River Waterfront Corp. for a development agreement at Penn’s Landing, where the agency owns the land. Durst won a request for proposal process with a plan featuring 1,834 residential units, a 225-key hotel and 94,000 square feet of retail space. Nearby, Durst paused construction indefinitely on a 26-story tower along Columbus Boulevard near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Clarity on both projects could come in 2023.
Capping I-95 at Penn’s Landing
Delaware River Waterfront Corp. plans to break ground on the 11.5-acre Park at Penn’s Landing in 2023. The long-awaited project would cap part of I-95 with the park being above the highway. The project, spanning Chestnut to Walnut streets, is estimated to cost $225 million. Linking Penn’s Landing to Old City via the park has long been floated and the start of construction would signal the project is finally coming together.
501 N. Christopher Columbus Blvd.
Residential development continues to pop up along the Delaware River. Jefferson Apartment Group and Haverford Properties have broken ground on two buildings with 470 apartments on 9 acres at 501 Columbus Blvd., which includes land formally known as Festival Pier. The development will also have a new Sprouts Farmers Market.
SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST PHILADELPHIA
Ensemble Real Estate Investments and Mosaic Development Partners have been working on a planneda project expected to span the next two decades. In April, a six-story, 670-car parking garage with 12,000 square feet of retail space is planned to open. A month later, a four-story, 137,000-square-foot life sciences building at 1201 Normandy Ave. is opening. This summer, the development team plans to break ground on a seven-story building and a six-story building with a combined 611 residential units. Renovations on a historic building are planned to begin in the fall for a 223-room hotel with a ballroom, spa, conference center and speakeasy.
Hilco Redevelopment Partners is set to kick off the first phase of its Bellwether District in the coming months. The project includes a mix of industrial and life sciences space. For the industrial space, earthwork to prepare the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery site is beginning in first quarter 2023, with vertical construction commencing in the second quarter. For life sciences space, earthwork will begin in the second quarter, with construction starting in first quarter 2024. The entire Bellwether District will span 1,300 acres, with 15 million square feet of life sciences, e-commerce, and logistics space. The developer secured $500 million in financing for the project early last year.
Lower Schuylkill Biotech Campus
The Lower Schuylkill Biotech Campus in Southwest Philadelphia is being planned as a cell and gene therapy complex sprawling 40 acres with 1 million square feet of biotech production space. It is expected to create 4,000 jobs. Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. issued a request for qualifications for a developer in June. At the end of 2022, PIDC issued a request for proposals to Quaker Lane Capital, Gattuso Development Partners/AR Spruce, and Lincoln Property Co. for the development. It plans to select a partner in the second quarter.
1001 S. Broad St.
Post Brothers and Bart Blatstein‘s Tower Investments Inc. are partnering on a massive development with 1,100 apartments and 65,000 square feet of retail space in South Philadelphia near the intersection of Broad Street and Washington Avenue. Construction on the first phase is projected for late 2024 and will consist of 52,962 square feet of retail, including a Giant grocery store, along with 45,000 square feet of outdoor amenities, 629 apartments and 25 electric vehicle charging stations.
UNIVERSITY CITY/GRAYS FERRY
Gattuso and Drexel’s 3201 Cuthbert St.
The building at 3201 Cuthbert St. will be the largest life sciences building in the city when it’s delivered. The 11-story, 550,000-square-foot building is being developed by Philadelphia-based Gattuso Development Partners and Vigilant Holdings of New York. The building is already 45% leased by Drexel and SmartLabs. The project, which carries a $400 million price tag, received a $290 million construction loan in December. That should help developers make substantial headway on the project in 2023 to align with an expected completion of fall 2024.
Schuylkill Yards: 3151 Market St. and 3025 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
The expansive Schuylkill Yards project will see its first ground-up, mixed-use project come online this year. 3025 JFK Blvd., the West Tower at Schuylkill Yards, plans to open in 2023. The 570,000-square-foot building will have residential units, retail and life sciences space. Cranes won’t stop on the block, as the adjacent 3151 Market St. broke ground in 2022. It will have chemical and bio lab space and hopes to act as a hub for Boston and New York companies to work and have operations in Philadelphia.
The University of Pennsylvania continues to lean into life sciences and innovation as it pushes the boundaries of its University City foothold. The Ivy League university is partnering with Longfellow Real Estate Partners on a $365 million, 455,000-square-foot building with biomanufacturing, research and lab space at Pennovation Works. It will add to a growing campus at 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue. The project, expected to break ground this summer and be completed in fall 2025, is part of some 1.8 million square feet of development planned at the 23-acre Grays Ferry site over about two decades.
OUTSIDE THE CITY LIMITS
Cooper University Health Care’s Camden expansion
Cooper University Health Care is investing billions of dollars to expand operations in Camden in what could be a major boost for Philadelphia’s neighboring city. The $2 billion project will add three new patient care buildings, significantly increasing the number of hospital beds on the Camden campus. The September announcement of the expansion came just months before Cooper University announced plans to merge with Cape Regional Health System. Groundbreaking for the project is expected in 2023, but no timetable for completion has been outlined yet.
HBC Properties and Investments is converting the former Lord & Taylor at the King of Prussia Mall into 120,354 square feet of health care or office space. HBC is betting on the building’s location near major roads and the amenities in the mall. The change is also an example of how mall space is being repurposed. PREIT has leased 165,000 square feet of a former 206,000-square-foot Sears store at Moorestown Mall in New Jersey to Cooper University Health with plans to also build 375 apartments at the site.
MLP Ventures expanding King of Prussia life sciences
Last year, MLP Ventures proposed building an additional 1 million square feet of lab and office space in a dozen buildings on its King of Prussia Discovery Labs campus. The expansion would take place in phases throughout the next decade on land now occupied by surface parking lots at 411 Swedeland Road. About a mile away at Renaissance Park, MLP plans to turn 600,000 square feet into life sciences space. The rapid expansions are part of King of Prussia becoming a life sciences hub.
SEPTA King of Prussia Rail sites
SEPTA has yet to disclose the specific properties it needs to obtain to put the development of the $2 billion rail line into action, but it’s expected to come in 2023. The transportation agency needs to acquire 70 properties in order to build out the four-mile, five-station rail line. SEPTA’s board voted in September to move forward with the acquisition of the sites, so the next step is appraising, determining fair market value and making offers for the land.
Keystone Trade Center
Work to turn a sprawling 1,800-acre site in Bucks County into a logistics hub should make significant progress this year. NorthPoint Development expects to have two warehouses completed by the end of the year — both of which are fully leased to warehousing and distribution companies. Tenants thus far include international logistics companies Jillamy and Savino Del Bene, according to a report from Newmark, at some 506,000 square feet apiece. The second phase of the project includes the construction of three more buildings, two of which are underway and could be completed in 2023. Altogether, the site is set to hold more than 20 warehouse buildings totaling 10 million square feet of industrial space, with the potential to build out to 15 million square feet.
Wilmington’s Avenue North
Delle Donne & Associates hopes to set a new bar in Delaware with its 79-acre Avenue North development in North Wilmington. Plans for the Parisian-inspired project include 12 buildings, luxury apartments, high-end restaurants, retail, office buildings and 10.5 acres of green space at the former site of AstraZeneca’s U.S. headquarters. The concept is similar to Exton’s Eagleview Town Center and King of Prussia Town Center. Construction recently began on a 100,000-square-foot, 12-story office building. While full buildout will take years, 2023 could set the stage for a transformative project in Delaware.
Atlantic City’s Bader Field
DEEM Enterprises LLC announced in May a $2.7 billion plan to build a 2.4-mile Formula 1 race track surrounded by hundreds of condominiums, as well as retail and commercial businesses, on the vacant 140 acres at Bader Field in Atlantic City. In November, Philadelphia’s Tower Investments and Post Brothers announced a competing $3 billion mixed-use proposal featuring 10,000 apartments and 400,000 square feet of retail and office space. While Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small supports the racetrack proposal, it’s up to the state of New Jersey to make the final call.