Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

University of Pennsylvania plans new campus in South Philly

Research, companies, buses at "South Bank"

University of Pennsylvania plans new campus in South Philly

The former DuPont Marshall Laboratory property, acquired by Penn for $13 million, has "infinite possibilities" as a place to nurture small businesses and "technology transfer," where faculty with "great discoveries can attract venture capital" and bring ideas to market, said Penn president Amy Gutmann in 2012. (Luis Fernando Rodriguez / Staff Photographer)
The former DuPont Marshall Laboratory property, acquired by Penn for $13 million, has "infinite possibilities" as a place to nurture small businesses and "technology transfer," where faculty with "great discoveries can attract venture capital" and bring ideas to market, said Penn president Amy Gutmann in 2012. (Luis Fernando Rodriguez / Staff Photographer)

The University of Pennsylvania plans a research and product commercialization park on the former DuPont Co. paint factory, on the east bank of the Schuylkill near the Grays Ferry section south of Penn's campus, the university said today.

The "South Bank" plan, drafted for Penn by locally-based planning firm WRT, will join students, teachers and outside business interests to "accelerate the formation of new, University-based business ventures" and will promote development of the aging industrial Schuylkill corridor as envisioned by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (a joint venture of the city and its chamber of commerce), Penn president Amy Gutmann said in a statement. The project as designed will need city water, street and other approvals.

"The South Bank will be anchored by the Pennovation Center, a new business incubator and accelerator" including both new tenants and existing tenants -- which include Penn Vet Working Dog Center (studies police K-9 units), the Penn Dental Research Greenhouse, the Penn School of Arts & Sciences Bio Garden, and a "sustainable fueling station" for Penn Transit, the university buses already stored on the site. Also KMEL Robotics, which grew out of Penn's engineering drone lab; Novatheraputics (diabetes drugs); Jin+Ja, health drinks; Edible Philly, a publishing office; and the Free Library's operations center. Penn hopes to grow the comlex from 200,000 sq ft of current offices and labs to as much as 1.5 million sq ft after 20 years.  See also www.pennconnects.upenn.edu.

Penn adds that about 50 people work on the site at present; the built-out Center would employ more than 100; other entities could add hundreds more jobs there.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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