Today, when people talk about all of Philadelphia’s positive energy and potential, the discussion typically leans toward Center City. Some may disagree with me, but hey … that’s what opinions are for.

Center City has the best restaurants, the nicest/newest condos, and the densest population of people in the entire city. More or less, Center City is Philadelphia’s heartbeat. Anyone and everyone, young and old, natives and transplants, urban-born and suburban-born, most of them look at Center City first when considering a serious move to our city (believe me, it’s what I do for a living).

And you have to admit, Center City is pretty freakin’ awesome these days.

But … there is another super-positive discussion brewing among those who have a present/future stake in Philadelphia (i.e. developers, businesses, hospitals, universities, etc), that not too many have taken notice to yet. Yup, I’m talking about University City.

I know, I know … I know.

I’ve written many blog posts in the past about UC on the old (which are now available on the all new, woo hoo!), but there is something different in the air. Something bigger than anything I have seen/heard before about University City.

It’s almost as if UC has become a brand-new city altogether … right? There are brand-new restaurants (both local and franchise options abound), brand-new buildings (both public and private), and brand-new people (seriously, from like every corner of the world). But yet, I would still say that most conversations about Philadelphia these days, regarding the “new” Philadelphia (as some folks like to call it), still sway toward Center City.

Just last month, I caught a first-hand/up-to-date glimpse of everything that is going on right now in University City.

Andrew Janos, Ryan Garrity, and I recently took a hard hat tour of the new FMC Tower in University City … and man, what a great project that is shaping up to be. Ground floor commercial spaces, middle floor office spaces, and upper floor residential spaces (home to the future AKA University City). Not to mention all of the thought that went into the architecture + planning: sleek building design, stunning lobby, Cira Green, and an unbelievably-convenient location to Philadelphia’s business district and 30th Street Station (just walk right over).

When we got to one of FMC Tower’s top floors (40+ stories, in the open air), I got a sweeping view of both Center City and University City (as well as Fairmount, South Philly, etc). All sides of the floor we exited on to were only blocked off by guard rails, no glass had been put up yet; and since I don’t mind heights, I thought it was amazing. Of course, Center City is absolutely stunning these days (i.e. Comcast ITC, One Riverside, etc); dense, green, and buzzing with development. But, I will say that University City is definitely giving Center City a run for its money. New buildings, new parks, new neighborhoods, you name it.

That’s where we are currently, in September 2016.

Now … look ahead 35 years (which I know is not easy to do), and here’s what University City could look like (on top of what it already looks like):

  • 88-acres of new neighborhood: Built over rail yards (next to 30th Street Station), the Powelton Yard vision may be one of the most ambitious urban projects in the US.
  • Further development of the surrounding neighborhoods: Think live-work-play, residential-office-entertainment.
  • Connecting Amtrak & Septa: Making the connection better, safer, and more convenient.
  • New bus terminal: With a new pedestrian bridge, connecting Arch St to 30th Street Station.
  • More local parks and green spaces: Need I say more?

That’s right, we’re talkin’ serious. Feel free to click on any/all of my links above for more details.

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