Despite spending countless hours traversing the streets of West Philadelphia, we haven’t spent much time exploring Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel‘s Schuylkill Yards as of late. This mixed-use neighborhood was announced several years back, with plans for soaring towers featuring residential, office, lab, hotel, and commercial space across the 14 acres. Additionally, the 30th Street Station District plan was released shortly thereafter, creating an even larger adjacent neighborhood, to be built over the huge rail yard along the river. Unsurprisingly, these plans have been slow going. But we are thrilled to give a major update for 3025 JFK Blvd., where the former Megabus pick-up spot has been entirely transformed.

An aerial rendering of the fully built-out Schuylkill Yards
A look at the 30th Street Station District Plan
An aerial of the Schuylkill Yards neighborhood from several months back, with 3025 JFK Blvd. highlighted

When visiting the site today, a new building towers above its surroundings, which consist mostly of rail yards and surface lots. This 360-foot apartment from the Practice of Architecture & Urbanism (PAU) rises 28 stories, with 326 units and amenity spaces taking up a majority of the building. 9,000 sqft of retail space will line the ground floor, further activating what was once (and still is currently) a strip that was barren of pedestrians.

Looking north at the nearly-completed Avira apartment tower
An aerial rendering shows what was planned

The design is modern, with the original planned arches along the ground-level replaced by more staid rectangular openings. The red brick of the lowest floor forms a pleasing contrast with the brown panels above, which form a grid across the structure’s two stacked volumes. The massing is broken up by a step-back around the halfway point, where a pool and other roof deck features provide what are surely incredible city views. The eastern side of the building is surrounded by ground-level landscaping and seating spaces, softening what was formerly a paved and dusty area.

Looking east down JFK Blvd. at the apartment tower
A look at the NW corner shows off the red brick and brown paneling
A look at the eastern ground-level and the landscaped park
More landscaping behind the building, next to the rail yard
A rendering of the pool deck and outdoor amenities
Another rendering shows off the airy interiors

With leasing already active for Avira, we are truly pumped to see this major piece of the Schuylkill Yards puzzle fall into place. This area already feels much different than in the recent past, and 300+ new residents will make it feel even more so. And it’s a good thing, too, as there are big plans for the property next door at 3001 JFK Blvd., immediately to the east. Currently a surface parking lot, mobile construction offices, and a staging area, a 500+ foot office/lab tower is slated to be the boldest addition yet to SY. While there hasn’t been any digging as of yet for this taller of the pair (also designed by PAU), the signage on the existing offices stating “3001 JFK Blvd Construction Office” makes us cautiously optimistic that we could see things get moving here sometime soon.

A look at 3001 JFK, still a surface lot
Construction trailers already on site
A rendering from the same spot in the future
A look at the two buildings side by side
A look at the future highline park between the two buildings

Will we see this red beacon soar into the sky to join this newest apartment building? We sure hope so, though the current development environment might have other thoughts, thanks to rising interest rates and building costs which remain high. But putting on our rosiest of glasses, let’s peer into a future where 3001 JFK is completed and full. The former site of Cira II steps to the east still sits empty, though the 30th Street District plans foretell a future tower rising on this site. Just to the west of 3025, 3051 JFK Blvd. is currently a surface parking lot, though the Schuylkill Yards website identifies this lot for future lab development.

Avira-13 Cira 2
Cira 2, still nothing more than space above the tracks
Avira-14 3051 JFK Labs
The surface lot at 3051 JFK Blvd today, to be lab space in the future

Quite a lot to take in, huh? Building an entirely new neighborhood takes time, patience, space, creativity, and lots and lots of cash. If these bold designs and even bolder visions for the neighborhood eventually come to fruition, the area around 30th Street Station will be one of the most important transit-oriented developments at scale in the entire country. While we still have a long, long, longggg way to go, this handsome first tower bodes well for what’s to come in the future.