Labs, labs, labs – have we ever mentioned labs on here? Well, we are thrilled to be talking about yet another one at 127 N. 32nd St., where a surface parking lot on the very edge of Drexel is in for an ultra-upgrade. Currently home to a small one-story building and a fenced-off, paved lot, it would be easy to miss this property that directly abuts 32nd St. to the west and the giant 30th Street Station railyard to the east. But we are thrilled to report that this trapezoidal lot is now one happy property, with zoning approval to combine the existing parcels into one. Checking out the current site shows just how underutilized this prime spot is.

An 11-story, 185K sqft gene therapy lab/manufacturing facility will join the still-exploding University City life sciences scene. This is a joint venture from Republic, Scheer Partners and SEPTA, who owns the surface parking lot and is providing a long-term lease to the partnership. Dubbed Ultra Labs, this state-of-the-art building designed by L2P will strike a modern outline at its prominent placement on the edge of University City, with the blocky, angular design stepping back on the upper floors. The entire building rises over a parking deck below, which is slightly disappointing (if totally understandable) despite its location so close to 30th Street Station. The before and afters make it clear just what an upgrade this will be.

An aerial of the building and parking lot currently
The current view looking north on 32nd St.
The same view in the future, looking much more exciting and inviting

This facility will feature manufacturing, lab, and office space, creating a one-stop shop for a company that is looking to consolidate their facilities. No tenant has been named as of yet, but we’d imagine that the pipeline of established and growing companies in this pocket of research and innovation will get this building leased up by the planned Q4 2024 completion date. The views from this project should be pretty stunning as well, as Center City and University City will be visible from the large windows throughout.

View looking south on 32nd St.
Interior rendering shows off crisp design and amazing views

If that wasn’t enough, more lab updates are taking place catty-corner to this very project. We have checked in on 3201 Cuthbert St. a couple times in the recent past, where plans were in place to build a RAMSA-designed lab on the site of the current Buckley Field. This 420K sqft facility just received building permits, so things should be moving forward here soon enough.

Looking across the street towards Buckley Field recently
A view of the project from across the tracks, to be obscured in the future by Ultra Labs

We may soon see two tower cranes rise on this formerly sleepy part of Drexel’s campus. A few years from now, this area will be teeming with activity as hundreds of people make their way to create breakthrough medical advances, while also supporting the neighborhood businesses (and food trucks!) during the weekdays. Score yet another victory for more vibrancy thanks to the return to office/work life in Center City and beyond.