Member Perspective: Matt Bergheiser

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Originally published at The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia


Member Perspective: Matt Bergheiser

Posted Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

ECONOMYMEMBER SUBMITTED

Guest Commentator:  Matt Bergheiser, President, University City District 

What does University City District’s recent report, The State of University City 2017, show about the neighborhood’s future opportunities for growth, expansion and prosperity?

The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that if you want a robust economy for your city, just start some universities and wait 200 years.  Here in University City, we don’t have to wait much longer.

At our recent annual State of University City gathering, we shared the latest data on University City’s dizzying pace of growth.  Last year, $1.3 billion of investment created more than 2.6 million square feet of new development. Office occupancy here leads all 24 regional submarkets at an astounding 96%, and a construction boom in multifamily housing has increased the neighborhood’s residential population by 10% in recent years.

Here at University City District, we’re asking: “What if we’re only just getting started?”

University City institutions and businesses are making five economy-altering bets, all happening simultaneously, and within blocks of one another: the launch of University of Pennsylvania’s Pennovation Center; Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust’s $3 ½ billion investment in Schuylkill Yards; University City Science Center’s expansion into uCity Square; an accelerating focus on commercialization and entrepreneurship by CHOP, Penn Medicine and University of the Sciences; and a long-term vision for developing over the railyards north of Amtrak’s 30th Street Station.

In University City, we’re reimagining an entire neighborhood and, in the process, reshaping economic possibilities for the region. University City is home to ambitious entrepreneurs and gifted researchers, savvy investors and talented students, all participating in thousands of conversations about new ideas, new companies and new cures.  And we’re home to community members chasing the American dream – a Moroccan restauranteur opening her first storefront, a resident lifting up her entire family by landing a job at CHOP or Penn Medicine.

At University City District, we are supporting this growth by working in concert with visionary partners.  We’re making substantial investments in public spaces like The Porch at 30th Street Station and the 40th Street Trolley Portal to ensure that our civic infrastructure is as extraordinary as the commercial development rising around us. And, through our West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, we’re preparing neighborhood residents for career-transforming jobs at our institutions and in our new corporate towers, and ensuring that the benefits of accelerating economic opportunities accrue broadly.

There’s a palpable sense that if we build great places and if we cultivate the talent of all of those here, we create the foundation for enduring prosperity. That is the true promise of University City.  This neighborhood, and all of Philadelphia, will be much richer for it.

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