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HRP To Start Construction On Bellwether District At Former Refinery Site Early Next Year

More than two years after it began dismantling the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in Southwest Philadelphia, Hilco Redevelopment Partners will begin building its replacement: the Bellwether District.

A bird's-eye rendering of what Hilco Redevelopment Partners' transformation of the former PES refinery, which it has named the Bellwether District, could look like at full build-out.

HRP will start grading and excavation work for two distribution centers totaling more than 1.5M SF in January, executives for the company said at a community meeting on Tuesday reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Vertical construction on the buildings is expected to begin in March. Various forms of cleanup from over a century's worth of contamination across the 1,300-acres site are ongoing and will continue at least into 2024.

The two warehouses, one 726K SF and the other 326K SF, will be marketed to "big retail names" for e-commerce distribution, HRP Vice President Justin Dunn told neighborhood stakeholders, according to the Inquirer. They will occupy a site bordered by West Passyunk Avenue to the north, South 26th Street to the east and Hartranft Street to the south. A slice of greenery is planned for separating the buildings from the residential neighborhood on the other side of 26th.

The Bellwether District plan involves over 10M SF of industrial real estate across the 750-acre southern portion of the former refinery site, which it will connect to the city with a new street grid and dashes of public space, including at the Schuylkill River waterfront. In addition to distribution, HRP will seek light manufacturing tenants to fill some of the buildings.

On the 250-acre northern site, HRP will seek to build up to 4M SF of life sciences manufacturing space. The life sciences portion will begin site grading and excavation in the middle of next year, with vertical construction scheduled for early 2024, the Inquirer reports.

For both the industrial and life sciences portions, demand from potential tenants is less of a sure thing than it was even in June, when HRP laid out its master plan. The Bellwether District will take at least 10 years to reach full build-out