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What's Next for The Navy Yard

Of course The Navy Yard in South Philly is a huge deal; it’s received over $1B in investment over the last decade (oh, that's where all the loose change you lose on the ground goes), and it’s why we're hosting our third annual Bisnow Future of South Philly and The Navy Yard on July 16 at the Ritz Carlton.

We snapped speaker and Philadelphia Industrial Development SVP Will Agate at his office this morning, and he tells us the numbers continue to climb. The Navy Yard now has over 11,000 employees and 145 companies in the office, industrial/manufacturing and R&D sectors, occupying 7M SF of real estate. (Scientists, forklift operators, and accountants all living together in harmony.) What started as a business park has transformed into a cross-section of academic institutions, federal grant ops, and energy and innovation programs. It’s become a model of collaborative work with a true sense of place. “That’s why we always say that 'it’s not about The Navy Yard,'” explains Will. “Our success comes from creating a value proposition from which the entire Greater Philadelphia region can benefit.”

Development continues with $120M in construction and rehab activity currently underway. Liberty Property Trust has two buildings going up, both built on spec and already fully leased. 201 Rouse Blvd will house Franklin Capital, while 4000 S 26th St will hold three international firms, as the US HQ's for the UK's Clinigen and Australia's EcoSave, as well as expanding Chinese firm WuXi AppTec. (It’s like a World Cup of businesses, minus the face paint.) Liberty VP Brian Cohen will also be speaking at our event to tell us more.

Those firms join a cadre of big names that have relocated here, including GlaxoSmithKline last year. Eminently visible from the entrance, GSK’s new Robert A.M. Stern-designed pad is a milestone in sustainable development, thanks to its unique double LEED Platinum certification.

The third building that's broken ground is Penn State's first academic building in Philly. The Center for Building Energy Edcuation and Innovation will feature a conference center with a 170-seat auditorium and space for additional classrooms. (Though it's a hell of commute getting back to State College.) While Penn State has the largest institutional presence here, many area schools are also using The Navy Yard for research in devising workforce development strategies.

Will says the other big part of the development equation is reuse of historic military buildings—one of which is Penn State's Consortium for Building Energy Innovation (CBEI, formerly known as the EEB Hub). That building will include staff offices, research team workrooms, and CBEI's incubator space and Immersive Construction Lab. 

No better example exists than in Urban Outfitters' continuing track record of adaptive reuse, with the recent opening of Building 18, following a $62M rehab to create 90K SF of space for retail designers and corporate functions. (We assume the 18 was the Navy's original designation; that it also refers to the age of Urban Outfitters' target demographic is probably a happy coincidence.) The retailer now occupies 15 buildings totaling over 750k SF.

Along with the opening of a Courtyard Marriott in January, The Navy Yard's plan for connecting with South Philly and the city in general is growing more visible. The hotel’s success is owed not just to visiting businesspeople but tourists and fans to the nearby sports complex, and Will reports it’s doing great business on weekends. (Sounds like it’s outperforming the Phillies at the moment.) PIDC further promotes integration via shuttle buses connecting workers coming from Center City and AT&T Station, and supports studying the benefits of extending the Broad Street line into The Navy Yard. If none of that piques your curiosity, perhaps celeb chef's Marc Vetri will. He's opening Lo Spiedo this fall in a gate house at The Navy Yard's entrance. We hope you'll join us for Bisnow Future of South Philly and The Navy Yard on July 16 at the Ritz Carlton.