While there are clearly two opposing viewpoints involved in the lawsuit filed by the University City Science Center to block the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (RDA) from seizing two of the undeveloped properties on their campus, there is only one shared goal at hand: the successful redevelopment and revitalization of Philadelphia and its neighborhoods.
The University City Science Center is the oldest, largest and arguably most successful urban incubator and science park in the world. Since it was established in 1963, more than 350 companies have gotten their start at the Science Center — success stories like BioRexis, Centocor, 3DP and Morphotek — and today more than 100 companies reside on its impressive, 15-building campus. Under the leadership of Stephen S. Tang, the Science Center continues to implement its strategic plan for economic growth and job creation in West Philadelphia and in turn, is further strengthening Pennsylvania’s position as a global leader in the biosciences.
Although the Science Center has made a significant economic impact on the region for the past 47 years, it too has not been immune to the effects of the economic downturn on commercial real estate development. While the Science Center continues to market the few remaining undeveloped properties on its campus, the RDA is attempting to seize them. It would be in the best interest of the Philadelphia community, the life sciences community and those populations who will directly benefit from the innovations being developed at the Science Center for the RDA to suspend the development deadlines on the properties until the economy stabilizes; an agreement that the Science Center has been trying to reach amicably with the RDA for two years. The time and resources that will be expended in court will surely have a negative impact on the decades-long momentum of growth and innovation that the Science Center has cultivated for innovators and entrepreneurs in our region.
According to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s website, its work “focuses on planning and developing balanced mixed-use communities to create thriving, well-served neighborhoods…and [they] continue to work towards identifying new opportunities, while responding to changing economic conditions.” Considering this, the solution seems clear: the RDA must collaborate on the shared goal of revitalizing Philadelphia by allowing an extension on the Science Center’s construction schedule until the economy rebounds, enabling it to continue to create jobs, conduct groundbreaking research and be a leader in the biosciences.