In the past 15 years, University City has grown tremendously as one of the city’s leading economic sectors and hubs for youth.

In 2011, more than three dozen new businesses opened their doors in University City, which spans 2.4 square miles. In the past three years, more than 5.1 million sqft of completed and soon-to-be completed construction projects have taken place, 27 new acres of green space have been developed, and $3B in total real estate value has been created.

New developments

That information and more is available in the State of UCD 2012/2013 released this month by the University City District (UCD). Since its 1997 inception, the UCD, has worked to plant seeds that are now blossoming into a vibrant district, perhaps the city’s most. In the past 15 years, median home prices have more than tripled, since 2000 the number of residents ages 20-34 increased almost 21 percent, and the office market is one of the strongest in the area, its 8.8 percent vacancy rate making it the third lowest among 29 regional submarkets.

The Porch at 30th Street Station

This year alone saw the completion of the Center for Culinary Enterprises and Shoemaker Green last month, and Golkin Hall at Penn earlier this year. There is also the projected late 2012 completion of the 52K sqft Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center, the new CHOP facility at 48th and Market and Spruce Street Plaza. Next year’s projected completed projects include the $31M LEED platinum 2.0 University Space office complex and the new $87.5M Lebow College of Business at Drexel. The next few years should bring the completion of The Arch at Penn, and more than half a dozen other buildings including Cira Centre South.

Money. Money. Money. Say it again (do it, then smile for us, eh?). That is what it takes for these things to happen. National recession be damned, University City has been growing like an adolescent at a party hosted by older by the kids (has it been underage drinking?). And we’re not just talking about development here. The district’s advances in sustainability like its various urban farms and UCD’s Dirt Factory, a community compost and educational center opened this year, and new businesses, and public spaces like The Porch and parklets are among the most innovative urban developments in Philadelphia. Kudos, University City. The city is watching you, waiting to see what’s next.

A future project?

–Lou Mancinelli

All images above come from UCD Report.