Wexford Science + Technology has an initial plan to spend $1 billion over the next 10 or so years developing 2.52 million square feet on the former University City High School site.
The plan was unveiled about a week after Wexford and the University City Science Center announced they had teamed up to expand the Science Center on that property as well as other land the Science Center controls.
The former high school site is special because it has the potential to be transformative for the Science Center, University City and the other academic and research institutions around it.
“The opportunity before us is to take what is here, the intellectual capital, the workforce, the companies and expand the Science Center and transform it,” saidJoseph Reagan, vice president of development for Wexford.
“With the high school site, we can create a different type of environment," he said. "We are reintroducing travel patterns, creating an outdoor public space, connecting Penn to the Science Center and the community to the north and integrating the neighborhood.”
The development also provides Powellton Village with a new mixed-use anchor from which it can grow.
The high school property totals 14 acres and Wexford plans to develop 10 of it with office, residential and retail space with the Science Center.
The remaining four acres will be used for a new K-through-8 school that Drexel University has in the planning stages, although it is expected to be similar to the Penn Alexander School, located at 42nd and Spruce streets, that the University of Pennsylvania opened in 2001.
That in itself could be a game-changer and potential boon for existing residential properties and future development in and around it.
Wexford has been meeting with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and neighborhood groups for the past 18 months to get input on how the community envisions the redevelopment of the old high school site.
Those conversations are ongoing, but many of the suggestions helped to shape Wexford's design.
Wexford has broken down the high school property into six development parcels: 3750 Lancaster Ave.; three separate sites at 225 N. 38 th St.; 115 N. 38 thSt.; and 3701 Filbert St. It expects to get underway by the end of this year on 300-unit residential project that will have a retail component at 3750 Lancaster Ave.
On a separate Science Center property unrelated to the high school, Wexford also expects to move forward with what is now being referred to as 3675 Market St., which will be an office building totaling at least 200,000 square feet.
Market demand will determine when the company moves forward with the other projects on the high school property and whether they will be residential, office, lab or a mix.
The goal, which has been touted by the Science Center, is 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., but also around the world.