Drexel University will occupy a new 450,000-square-foot building that will be developed for it at uCity Square at 36th and Filbert streets as part of a plan to relocate some of divisions of its College of Medicine to the new structure.
The university had initially signed a deal last spring to commit to 280,000 square feet of the building to move its College of Nursing and Health Professions from Three Parkway. The university had an option to expand into the entire building and exercised that in November, said Jim Egan, a broker with Newmark Knight Frank who represented Drexel.
On Dec. 5, Drexel’s board of trustees voted to take the additional space and commit to moving some of the College of Medicine’s administrative functions, its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies and its first- and second-year medical program, said John Fry, president of Drexel in a letter to the university community.
“Over time, the College of Medicine will vacate all leased space in Center City, at the Bellet building and the New College building, as well as the Queen Lane campus,” Fry wrote. “College of Medicine researchers will remain at Queen Lane and in the New College building for now while plans are being crafted for their eventual move to the University City campus, as Center City leases expire.”
Drexel leases 174,000 square feet at Three Parkway and that lease is scheduled to expire in May 2023. The building is owned by MRP Realty Group. Drexel owns the Queen Lane campus. The Bellet building at 1501 Race St. and the New College building at 245 N. 15th St. are owned by Harrison Street Real Estate of Chicago.
Wexford Science & Technology will develop the new building at uCity Square and construction will begin this spring with the nursing school moving in first by the 2022-2023 academic year. The other divisions will be moved in phases.
The new building will allow many of Drexel’s health and medical programs to consolidate into a single location. That is expected to bolster the “opportunities for interdisciplinary education in a facility that affords health sciences students, faculty and professional staff the best possible environment for continued development and growth,” Fry wrote.
Drexel bought the three-acre site for the new building at 36th and Filbert from the Philadelphia School District in 2014. In addition to the new building housing the Drexel operations, the property will also have a new elementary and middle school built on it.
The project makes inroads into Drexel’s vision to ultimately create — with Wexford as its partner — a $1 billion development that would total 2.7 million square feet at build out and serve as an “engine of economic growth and development in West Philadelphia.” Drexel is planning to develop over phases a mixed-use community that includes the public school, residential, retail and recreational space as well as laboratory and research office space and parking. It has the potential to generate 3,700 jobs once completed.