University City District’s State of University City Publication Now Available

Thursday, November 19, 2015

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Lori Brennan, University City District | 215-243-0555 x227 or [email protected] 


University City District’s State of University City Publication Now Available 

The State of University City report captures the district’s role as regional growth engine and neighborhood of choice for new businesses, residents, and students.

(Philadelphia, PA) - University City District (UCD), the economic development organization located in West Philadelphia, is pleased to announce the release of The State of University City 2016. This latest edition of UCD’s annual publication illustrates University City’s status as an engine of remarkable prosperity, innovation and commercial and residential vibrancy, boasting world-class public spaces and amenities. The report gives an in-depth guide to the developments – academic, commercial, public, residential and more – that are driving the growth and expansion in the neighborhood.  Almost 80 pages of charts, statistics, photographs, and stories help demonstrate why University City and its concentration of economic activity are setting a national pace for opportunity. 

University City District unveiled the publication to a packed house at their annual State of University City event on Wednesday, November 18th. A crowd including stakeholders, business leaders, representatives from anchor institutions, government officials, and residents gathered to hear UCD Executive Director Matt Bergheiser deliver a presentation highlighting key facts and figures from the previous year, highlighted by the achievement of 75,000 jobs in University City. Bergheiser also used the opportunity to highlight the work of the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, UCD’s program that connects unemployed residents of West Philadelphia with jobs at major employers in the neighborhood. 

University City, the 2.4 square mile area just west of the Schuylkill River, is propelling Philadelphia into an era of innovation and opportunity. University City institutions are investing nearly $1 billion in R&D spending dedicated to new discoveries and medical cures. Global innovators in science and medicine, venture capitalists, world renowned thinkers, and notable artists call University City home. University City set record highs for population, student enrollment, median home value, patents issued, and will shortly reach a landmark of 75,000 jobs. 

“University City institutions and businesses are helping to fuel the growth of Philadelphia’s economy.  The magnificent mix of academic, research and commercial partners in University City is leading the region – and much of the country – in the acceleration of economic activity,” says Matt Bergheiser, Executive Director of University City District. 

Built on the indispensable foundation of Clean and Safe, UCD has steered its work to match the vision of its partner institutions, creating new possibilities for the neighborhood. UCD is responsible for public space investments such as the revamped Porch at 30th Street Station, an enhanced pedestrian experience on the Market Street Bridge, and the forthcoming improvements to the 40th Street Trolley Portal. UCD impacts the community through its work with the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative and Project Rehab, and continues to put its stamp on one of the region’s most vital neighborhoods.

The State of University City 2016 focuses on major news from the past year and previews the significant projects that lie ahead. What follows are some of the neighborhood’s most notable recent and current accomplishments:

Growth at Major Employers Led to More New Jobs
•    Driven by growth at our top ranked universities and medical systems, the number of jobs in University City rose to 75,000, and is expected to exceed 76,000 in 2016.  From 2008 to 2013, there has been a 79% increase in middle- to high-wage positions, substantially outpacing wage growth in the city overall.  
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•    University City’s office occupancy rate rose in 2015, reaching a region-leading 97.4%. 

A Robust Market for Economic Opportunities
•    Over 10 million square feet of real estate projects are under development or were recently completed, representing over $4.6 billion in investment.  This includes the FMC Tower, a new landmark presence on the University City skyline.

•    Driven by employment and residential growth in the institutional and office core, restaurants experienced yet another strong year, with full service dining establishments up 15% since 2009, and casual service restaurants up 23%.
•    Hotel occupancy rose by 5% in 2014 – and 10% since the recession-low in 2009 – outpacing Center City in terms of average daily rate and occupancy.

•    A record 44,224 students were enrolled at University City’s colleges and universities, with enrollment up 5% over 5 years.
•    According to a 2015 Campus Philly report, 64% of college students educated in Greater Philadelphia colleges and universities stay in the region after graduation.  This contributes to the high level of educational attainment of University City residents, 56% of whom hold a Bachelor’s Degree or above.
•    Neighborhood elementary school Samuel Powel recently ranked as the #2 public K-4 school in Philadelphia, according to the School District of Philadelphia’s 2013-14 School Progress Report. The Penn Alexander School was ranked #6 among public K-8 schools. Both schools were ranked #1 in Achievement in their respective groups.
•    168 patents were issued to University City institutions, up 75% over the last five years and 110% since 2006.
•    Total R&D spending in University City remains at nearly $1 billion.
•    University City is poised for significant new investment in its innovation infrastructure as major development projects get underway or near construction.  This includes: Drexel’s Innovation Neighborhood, an expansion of uCity Square (the University City Science Center campus), and growth at Pennovation Works.

A Neighborhood of Choice
•    The median home sale price reached a new record high of $316,000 in 2014, with recent increases spread across the district.  Sale and rental prices remain affordable relative to Center City.
•    “Downtown University City” continued its evolution into a 24/7 neighborhood, as 2,500 new units of multifamily housing – largely located in the neighborhood’s core – will have been added between 2013 and 2016.   
•    University City’s population will increase by 11% by 2016, swelling to a recent high of 50,608.

•    The percentage of UCD residents commuting by foot, transit, or bike increased by 5%, driven by a steep increase in bicyclists.  SEPTA boardings in the area were up 19% since 2009.
•    University City earned excellent marks for transportation and accessibility, achieving high ratings for its Walk Score (89), Transit Score (90), and Bike Score (98).

At UCD, we believe that University City’s future is critical to the future of our city and region, and that the district’s unique assets, opportunities and environment are both an engine of prosperity and an exemplar of community.  UCD promotes a world class, vibrant University City through major investments in public space development, public maintenance and public safety, by connecting entrepreneurs and residents to economic opportunity, and through the creation and management of destination events. This publication illustrates the exciting progress of the neighborhood and the impact of University City District. To obtain copies of State of University City 2016, contact the UCD by phone at 215-243-0555 or by email at [email protected]

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