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Public space, variety of development in University City expected to continue in 2012
by Andy Sharpe
University City continued to distinguish itself as a viable office and residential alternative to Center City in 2011. In fact, there were a number of exciting groundbreakings and announcements that dealt with new public space, high-rise development, and corridor enhancement between 29th and 43rd Sts, with the promise of more to come in the new year.
The past 12 months were especially noteworthy for all the new public spaces in University City. Rail commuters and pedestrians at 30th St. Station got The Porch, which is an outdoor promenade that featured yoga, a farmer's market, life-sized puppets during the month of November. The University of Pennsylvania opened up a new park to help bridge the wedge between University and Center Cities, which offers walking paths and athletic facilities. Finally, the city experimented with a "parklet" in front of the Green Line Café at 43rd and Baltimore, which meant replacing a few parking spots with outdoor seating.
University City also found itself in the throes of interesting high-rise development and corridor beautification efforts. University Place Associates finally got the anchor tenant it needed to announce groundbreaking for 2.0 University Place at 41st and Filbert, which is envisioned to be the city's first LEED pre-certified building. Also, public art flourished on Lancaster Ave. from 35th to 40th Sts. as a means to draw attention to the continued re-development of that corridor.
If you like what you're hearing, University City District's Prema Gupta should make you hopeful for 2012. Gupta reveals that the University City District received two grants from the city for pedestrian plazas. She says that her group is considering using them at the intersection of Baltimore Ave, Florence Ave., and 48th St., as well as on the University of the Sciences campus at 42nd and Woodland.
Sources: Prema Gupta, University City District, and all the 2011 Development news-makers in University City