New office tower to rise on Market Street

The University City Science Center, a consortium of Penn, Drexel and other institutions that's a major office and lab landlord along Market and Chestnut Streets west of the Schuylkill, says it's ready to start work in September (finishing in mid-2014) on its new 11-story tower at 3737 Market Street (NE corner 38th & Market, corrected) in West Philadelphia, in a joint venture with developer James R. Berens' Baltimore-based firm, Wexford Science & Technology.

The 273,000 sq ft building's major tenant will be nearby Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, which will fill at least 156,000 sq ft with orthopedic and outpatient offices. There's also room for stores, offices and labs. UCSC and Wexford say they also hope to lure some start-up firms to the other 88,000 sq ft.

The partners plan to spend more than $15 million on the project. They plan to put the contracting work out to bid, UCSC chief executive Stephen Tang told me. Philadelphia's Intech led construction of 3711 Market next door in 2008-10.

Tang says start-up space in that building filled quickly, with small companies including Integral Molecular and Eli Lilly & Co.'s Avid Radiopharmaceuticals unit. He said 30 smaller firms now share UCSC "incubator" space, and he expects some will be ready to move into their own new building "in two to three years."

UCSC had proposed a higher-rising "gateway" project for the neighborhood before the 2008 economic slowdown. The lot south of Market and west of 38th remains available; it is "the jewel in the crown" and would support a higher tower, UCSC chief executive Stephen Tang told me. "This is one of the few intersections in University City -- or Center City -- that has two lanes of traffic going in both directions; it is a very desirable location."

The group has applied for a "small" RACP matching grant to help fund construction at 3737, but the plan doesn't depend on that money, Tang added.

Architect is Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects with UJMN Architects + Designers. Leasing agent is Cushman and Wakefield. Tang says he'll be glad to have construction cranes working the site next year, which marks the center's 50th anniversary.