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Penn's South Bank Master Plan brings innovation to underserved waterfront

Penn has grand plans for the Lower Schuylkill
Penn has grand plans for the Lower Schuylkill
Last week, the University of Pennsylvania made public its plans to construct a research park on 23 acres of land formerly owned by DuPont in the Lower Schuylkill section of Grays Ferry in Philadelphia. The parcel is now being referred to as "the South Bank."
 
Our sister site, Flying Kite, has reported extensively on the long-range development plans for the Lower Schuylkill River, but no announcement has generated as much public chatter and excitement as the recent one from Penn; it is just one small ingredient in a much larger campus development recipe known as Penn Connects 2.0, a so-called master plan "which has added nearly three million square feet of space to Penn’s campus since 2006," according to a release.   
 
One of the highlights of the South Bank will be a business incubator and accelerator called the Pennovation Center. (Current tenants will remain onsite after renovations begin.) That complex will feature lab space and a collaborative technology-transfer ecosystem that Penn hopes will eventually infuse the entire South Bank campus.  
 
According to Ed Datz, Penn's executive director of real estate, the campus will be available to a wide range of users, from startups that grow out of university research to those without any previous university affiliation. The master plan, designed by the Philadelphia-based firm WRT, creates a framework with initial development focused on light industrial and flex-use buildings. 

"The one consistent is the opportunity to let young, upstart companies have space -- at a reasonable rate -- to gather, to share ideas, and to advance their particular discipline," says Datz.

While an exact construction timeline hadn't been revealed, the multi-phase renovation work at the South Bank site may begin as early as this fall.

Dan Eldridge is news editor of Flying Kite Media.
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