Brandywine Realty Trust, a Radnor company that is one of Center City's dominant landlords, has asked Campus Crest Communities, a Charlotte-based company mostly known for building student housing at suburban and small-town colleges in the South and West, to put up student housing on a site permitted for a 36-story high-rise tower at 2930 Chestnut St. in University City, according to two real estate industry sources familiar with the deal. (Campus Crest HQ corrected).
Despite Crest's apparent lack of experience on big-city high-rise work, digging started last weekend for foundations for the project, which is part of the Cira 2 complex that Brandywine hoped to build on the block between Chestnut and Walnut streets, 29th and 30th streets, adjoining the Penn campus to the south and Drexel to the north.
Brandywine had proposed two towers for the block, and state and city leaders had offered tax breaks in an attempt to lure office employers, hotels, apartments and ohter tenants. But the proposals were put on hold during the economic downturn that started in 2008.
The student project, if successful, would divert Penn students from popular West Philly and Center City neighborhoods. Penn spokeswoman Julie McWilliams referred queries to Brandywine, whose investor relations manager, Marge Boccuti, won't comment on details of the plan. Brandywine boss Jerry Sweeney didn't disclose project details in his quarterly earnings statement this week. Crest hasn't returned calls seeking comment.