Penn is up and building again, this time in the form of a six-story office building with a green roof at 39th & Walnut. This will mark the second new structure on the block in the last few years, joining the Radian, a 14-story residential tower with various commercial offerings, including City Tap House.

The property

Penn owns the parcel at 3901 Walnut St., formerly home to Philly Diner, which closed in October 2011 after about a decade of serving the early morning and late night whims of University City. It was razed last year. When we talked to Penn around the time of the close, Ed Datz, director of real estate at Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services told us Penn was exploring its options to determine a viable use of the parcel. That viable use has proved to be additional space for some of Penn’s staff displaced by the recent creation of the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics at 36th & Walnut, according to the West Philly LocalAccording to the zoning application, in addition to the green roof, the building will be LEED gold certified. Zoning permits were originally issued in September, and were slightly revised last week.

Penn has been consistently developing its institution in recent years with improvements like Spruce Street Plaza and the Penn Park. Plus there is the South Bank campus it purchased across the river at 34th & Grays Ferry in 2010, and the recently completed $100M Krishna P. Singh Center at 32nd & Walnut. That’s a powerful row of investment in different arenas in a short time span. Through rebuilding and reinvesting across its campus, Penn is changing the face of University City.

–Lou Mancinelli