If the Science Center has a problem, it may be that it can’t develop new buildings fast enough to meet growing demand for its space.
This information was originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal.
That’s not a bad problem to have, but it’s one the Science Center faces as it completes the $161.2 million development of 3675 Market St., a 14-story, 344,000-square-foot building on its UCity Square campus in University City. The building officially opens this month and is already nearly fully leased.
“We’re where we were with 3711 when it opened,” said Joseph Reagan Jr., senior vice president Wexford Science & Technology, the developer of UCity Square and 3675 Market.
The last building Wexford completed for the Science Center was 3711 Market St., an $80 million, 155,000-square-foot structure it leased up even though it was during the height of the recession. In fact, the developer added two floors while it was under construction because of so much interest in the space. It opened in 2014 and underscored how much demand was there and prompted the developer move ahead with another building on speculation.
At its latest development, 3675 Market has 250,000 square feet of signed leases and a lot of tenant interest for the rest of the space, said Paul Garvey, a broker with Cushman & Wakefield who oversees the leasing of the buildings at UCity Square.
“The reception has been phenomenal,” Garvey said. “We have proposals out there for more space than we have. I don’t think we could put up the next building too soon.”
Rents on UCity Square have been some of the highest in the city and 3675 Market is no different. They have been in the $40s a square foot range.
The next building for UCity Square will be One City Square and take about two years to get out of the ground, Reagan said. That building is in the process of being designed and permits still need to be completed before One City Square moves forward but the site is ready for development. The building would be between 350,000 and 400,000 square feet.
What distinguishes 3675 Market from the Science Center’s other buildings is that for the first time, it has brought all of the various innovation elements together under one roof including: co-working wet labs operated by BioLabs; Quorum, which is the Science Center’s area for the start-up community to come together and takes up 15,000 square feet; Venture Cafe, which is a place to network and hold innovation-related events; and the Cambridge Innovation Center, which provides co-working space, resources and support to tech and life science start ups.
The Science Center has maintained some of these operations in other locations across its University City campus but they have never been in the same space. Now that they are, it is expected to create a dynamic environment for innovation and the exchange of ideas that could also lead to new start ups and technology.
Each building going forward will have these elements but may not have, for example, a separate Quorum space. The Science Center makes its headquarters in the new building and occupies 20,000 square feet.
The building at 3675 Market is part of a bigger plan for the development of UCity Square. Over the next 10 years, Wexford plans to spend upwards of $1 billion to develop a total of seven additional buildings that will have office and lab space as well as one to two residential buildings that will have more than 700 apartments. In all, Wexford, based in Baltimore, will add four million square feet and bring the total square footage of the Science Center’s campus to 6.5 million square feet.
The goal of UCity Square is for the Science Center to create a community centered on innovation that has multiple anchors – residential, retail, lab, office – that will keep, grow, retain and lure companies and can compete with other similar hubs such as Cambridge, Mass., as well as those around the world.