A Walk Across the River: UCity Summer Update

If you're a resident who has not been west of the Schuylkill in the last few months, or if you're a Penn or Drexel student who retreated to your home suburb after classes ended, here are some reports on University City happenings this summer:

For starters, there is a huge hole in the ground at 30th and Walnut Streets, at the former site of the U.S. Post Office Annex. Tearing down the Annex and its deck is the first step in demolition for the Cira Center South project, a development that will fill the entire block from Walnut to Chestnut Street with a 40 to 50-story office tower, a 25 to 30-story residential tower, and a 2,400-car parking garage, in the middle.
Anyone with business at Penn this year knows that this demolition was more than a simple wrecking ball job. Crews were on the site for months and the demo was a meticulous process, primarily because of the roads and rail tracks that run adjacent and underneath the structure. See the zoom-in photo of nearby rail.

This is a joint project of Brandywine Realty Trust and the University of Pennsylvania. Zoning was approved in October 2007 by the City Planning Commission because of the developers' willingness to include progressive improvements such as: energy-efficient design up to the LEED “Silver” standard, a green roof open to the public, public spaces at street level, bicycle and car-share parking; streetscape improvements, and an ornamental façade.
For more information on Penn's long-term vision for its new Schuylkill River property, check out 

Just one block further west: remember that parking garage that has been an eyesore on your walk across the river for years? Well, it's a bit less ugly now, as it has been treated this summer with a screen that's not too different from the one covering the Fresh Grocer parking garage on the NW corner of 40th and Walnut Streets. What's more interesting is that the ground floor of the garage is being re-fitted for a new post office. This will replace the post office at 30th and Market as USPS moves its regional headquarters to the airport and the IRS takes its place across from 30th Street Station. Photo above shows the ground-floor glass facade where there used to be exposed parking.

Posted by Andrew Goodman. Contact him at

About the author

Andrew Goodman, Community Engagement Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Goodman is currently the Community Engagement Director at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Previously, Goodman worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis. His focus was on projects that combined community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia.  Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration.  As PlanPhilly grew, Goodman represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.

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