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Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 3:49 PM
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Lightbulb PHILADELPHIA | EVO @ Cira Centre South | 407 FT | 33 FLRS | U/C

Cira Center South

Official Website: Brandywine Realty Trust
Marketing Brochure: Link
  • Location: Bordered by Schuylkill Ave, Walnut St, 30th St, Chestnut St in West Philadelphia, PA
  • Usage:Office, Hotel, Residential Condominium, Residential Rental, Street Level Retail
  • Office Tower Height: ?? Floors: 42
  • Residential Tower Height: ?? Floors: ??
  • Architects: Cesar Pelli
  • Developer: Brandywine Realty Trust
  • Estimated Cost: $???
  • Units:
    500,000 sf of office space
    225 Hotel rooms
    100,000sf, 50 unit residential condos
    300,000sf for rent residential
    20,000sf retail
  • Completion: 2012
  • Amenities/Features:
    • Spa and Fitness Center
    • One Acre of accessible green open space
    • 2400 Car Parking garage
    • LEED certified design
    • Contiguous with over $1.6 Billion of addition private and institutional real estate investment

Captured by Swinefeld from marketing brochure.


New towers to rise on 30th St.

By Suzette Parmley
Inquirer Staff Writer

The University of Pennsylvania and Brandywine Realty Trust will announce plans today for a dramatic residential, commercial and hotel project on 30th Street.
The 14-acre Cira Centre South project, which includes a 40- to 50-story office tower on Walnut Street and a 25- to 30-story residential tower on Chestnut Street, will be developed by a partnership of the university and Brandywine, which is based in Radnor.

Penn president Amy Gutmann said in an interview yesterday that the project would help unite University City with Center City and provide a gleaming "Gateway to the University."

The partners said the towers were designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the architectural firm that created the prismatic Cira Centre, completed last year just north of 30th Street Station.

Cira Centre South will also include the previously announced conversion of the 862,000-square-foot U.S. Postal Service building at 30th and Market Streets into offices for 5,000 employees of the IRS.

The post office conversion and construction of a 2,400-space parking garage will be the $365 million first phase of the project, to be completed by 2010. The office and residential towers will follow, to be completed by 2012 at a cost of about $400 million. The university has agreed to lease 100,000 square feet of the office tower's 400,000 to 500,000 square feet.

Assembling the 14-acre parcel has taken years. Penn and the Postal Service began talks about five years ago. Keating Development Co. was an agent for the Postal Service in the negotiations in 2001, which began about the same time Brandywine was undertaking the development of Cira Centre.

The university completed its purchase of the land last month, university and Brandywine officials said yesterday.

"Penn has wanted this land for two decades, and the stars finally aligned and we were prepared," said Gutmann. "We had the opportunity, and we brought great partners into it."

Gutmann said the development would be the first step of the university's master plan - called Penn Connects - to create athletic fields and open space, offices, and other amenities for its burgeoning student and faculty population.

"It provides a much-needed connector between our campus and Center City, and improves the urban infrastructure of the university and creates a vital new center of commerce for the whole region," she said. "It's converting a surface parking lot and eyesores into a mixed-use, greener, 24/7 neighborhood that unites and enlivens both sides of the Schuylkill."

The deal will let Brandywine, owner of a $5.5 billion portfolio of properties with more than 40 million square feet of office space nationally, fulfill its goal of expanding the scope of the original 32-story Cira Centre. This is the first time the firm has partnered with a major university.

The company has five other development projects under way, at Princeton; Plymouth Meeting; Oakland, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Fairfax County, Va.

"It represents the culmination of many years of work of trying to create a commercial mixed-use facility within University City," said Jerry Sweeney, president and chief executive officer of Brandywine. "It validates the investment thesis for Cira Centre and provides a tremendous economic engine for West Philadelphia and University City."

Brandywine entered into a 90-year ground lease with Penn for the development site.

The company plans to demolish the post office annex to build the towers and the parking garage. Half of the 2,400 spaces in the planned garage will be dedicated to the IRS, which signed a 20-year lease this week for space in the main post office building starting in 2010. The IRS will use the new site as its Philadelphia regional headquarters.

Sweeney said in an interview yesterday at his Cira Centre office that he had wanted to develop a similar building since it opened. He said Brandywine had been actively looking for other development opportunities in University City since 2001.

He said the overall development site, similar to Cira Centre, sits on a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone, which provides for an abatement on city and state taxes for 15 years. The program was originally created to give companies incentives to relocate their firms to distressed or depressed areas.

"With the general tax benefits of the KOIZ, there is a market for a property like this within the general vicinity of Center City," said Kevin Gillen, vice president of economic-consulting firm Econsult and a Wharton School economist who tracks housing and public-policy issues.

Sweeney said the residential tower planned for Chestnut and 30th Streets would offer about 225 rental units, with some ground-level retail. He said no price had been set for the rental units.

The target market would be employees in the area and students from Penn and Drexel Universities, he said, "who view that area as a desirable place to live and work."

"All the market conditions are favorable as far as increasing the residential component in this part of this city," Sweeney said. "There are 135,000 people within walking distance of the Cira Centre. There are tremendous demographics at play that certainly support a demand for increased residential, commercial or retail."

Gillen said the housing-market fundamentals today were far more supportive of rental units than they were 15 years ago, during the last housing downturn.

"The Center City residential market remains robust," he said. "Even though the housing market is slacking, the rental market has not. In fact, there are a number of condo owners who have considered converting their units to rentals."

Sweeney said the office tower would also house a 225-room hotel and 50 condominium units on the top floors.

Brandywine is financing the first phase of the project. Demolition of the parking garage and renovation of the post office will commence in a few weeks, he said.

Sweeney said that he was looking for financial partners to build the towers and that their construction was subject to "market and financial conditions." He said they were anticipated to be completed by 2012. He also said that, with Penn committing to a long-term lease in the building, he was confident Brandywine would proceed "with the contemplated development we have outlined."

A Penn spokesman said the space the administrators would vacate when they moved to the new Cira Centre would be converted into teaching and research use.

Landlocked and unable to move farther west without disrupting residential neighborhoods, Penn had to acquire the land, said Craig Carnaroli, the university's executive vice president.

"There was no other option," he said. "We've been eyeing that land since the early '80s."

The Evo is officially 430 feet tall.





Last edited by theWatusi; May 10, 2014 at 2:09 AM. Reason: update to standard format
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 3:53 PM
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"I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body." - The Fountainhead
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 3:55 PM
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Last edited by SJPhillyBoy; Mar 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM. Reason: updated info
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 4:10 PM
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i love the design! Philly is really looking better and better every year.
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 5:17 PM
UCityPhila UCityPhila is offline
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Figures. We [Drexel] plan a 30-40 story tower and Penn answers with a 40-50 story tower.

Jealousy aside, I'm likin' these towers a lot! University City is BOOMING, to say the least.
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 5:29 PM
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The saga continues. Alright, folks, now we can commence with the Cira 2 talk - which will now no longer be in quotation marks.
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Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 5:40 PM
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blart blart is offline
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Was surprised to see this in the paper this morning.

UCityPhila, what is the Drexel tower? Don't remember hearing about that one.
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 6:05 PM
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"He said [the towers] were anticipated to be completed by 2012"

We got a ways to go.

blart, Drexel was planning a hotel and sports/entertainment complex right around there. I forgot the status of this now.

Anyway, more pics...

Proposed pedestrian bridge.
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 7:40 PM
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Is this Cira South proposal the same as the Cira 2 proposal? Looks really nice, hope this moves forward and gets built.
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Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 7:52 PM
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Essentially, yes. The original proposed location of Cira 2 was directly west of 30th Street Station and across the railway from Cira Centre.
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Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 8:02 PM
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Holy shit, I wish I was able to keep up with this board more often. I LOVE that.
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 9:42 PM
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It would be great if Brandywine built a public park/space over the portion of the railyard the building will not be constructed over. It fronts Schuylkill Ave. That's being left exposed.
Old Posted Aug 31, 2007, 11:09 PM
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Good Point. Especially with whatever happens on the other side of Walnut, some green would look good there.
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 3:42 AM
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awesome Cira 2 news! let's hope current mortgage/subprime problems won't trickle down to commercial real estate as well and kill this thing even before it takes off the ground... Even though I remain optimistic about US economy a lot of hedge funds that traded a lot of asset backed (read real estate)commercial paper are in serious trouble and won't buy new issues anymore, hence possibly no financing for Cira 2...
which means not so good news for a lot of projects in the pipeline...
if these news were to come out a year ago, I would have given this project better than 50% chance of happening, now maybe 20%...
hey, let's keep hope alive and this thread rolling with hopefully more good news!
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 4:12 AM
Pennsgrant Pennsgrant is offline
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vmx I think you have to take into account who you are dealing with here, and you have to give points for the location as well. Brandywine already has a 20 year lease signed with the IRS ( golden) and the other major player is U.Penn whose collateral speaks for itself and is seemingly on a singular mission to keep Philadelphias economy humming. If Penn wanted no part of these towers,i don't think it happens either but Penn is on record as being a key player in this project. If this were a Brandywine Realty spec. project along the Delaware River I'd agree with you 100%, but considering the location,considering the project is Koz eligible there is no reason to think one of the largest real estate companies in the country can't pull this entire project off.

Alot of important people in harrisburg and Washington DC made this project a possibility.This isn't some casual project being thrown up against the wall just for the hell of it.
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 5:11 AM
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pennsgrant, I am all for it, don't take it the wrong way... I do have my doubts... brandywine is NOT one of the largest companies out there, although at the moment it is "still" financially sound. Look at our belowed RAIT (NYSE: RAS). It went from hero to almost zero in no time (only about 2 months ago RAS market cap was as big as BDN now). As far as KOZ, tenants that are already lined up :IRS, Post Office, don't really benefit from it (see 2nd paragraph below)... however, having said that, I do hope to see this project realized... only time will tell...

here is another article about this subject:
Brandywine Realty's University City gateway plans moving forward
Friday August 31, 11:44 am ET
Brandywine Realty Trust is moving forward with a long-anticipated, mixed-used development on land next to 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia that will include a companion to its Cira Centre building and expansive office space for the Internal Revenue Service.
The project Brandywine plans in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania will entirely recast that part of Philadelphia and firmly establish a gateway to University City, as well as link Philadelphia's financial and educational hubs, something planners and city officials have long desired.

The development would sit on several parcels that are part of a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone, a state designation made to attract development to downtrodden areas. The controversial zones allow tenants breaks on state and local taxes. In this case, at least three proposed tenants, Penn, the U.S. Postal Service and the IRS, are already tax-exempt. However, taxable firms are expected to try and lease space. Brandywine's nearby Cira Centre lured companies from Center City and the suburbs that now receive local and state tax breaks.

The development would encompass 30th Street between Market and Walnut streets, including the main post office building at 30th and Market. Brandywine (NYSE:BDN - News) bought it for $28 million and will completely renovate the five-story, 862,000-square-foot structure. The IRS has signed a 20-year lease on the entire building and will have 5,000 people working out of the site beginning in the fall of 2010. The U.S. Postal Service will continue to occupy on a short term 220,000 square feet.

Brandywine estimated the redevelopment, including acquisition costs, will run $265 million. The Radnor, Pa., real estate investment trust can tap tax credits to help offset some costs.

Brandywine will also build a new mixed-use building on Penn land currently used as the U.S. Post Office Truck Terminal Annex. Brandywine said it arranged a 90-year ground lease on the block-sized property and will raze the annex to construct the new building called Cira Centre South.

That complex will have 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of office space, of which Penn will lease 100,000 square feet. The remainder of the office space will be offered to tenants, who will receive KOIZ tax breaks. Cira South will also have a 733,000-square-foot, 2,400-space parking garage. The parking facility is expected to be completed by mid-2010. Brandywine would eventually like to incorporate a hotel, retail and residential space on the site.

The university kept 14 acres that are currently parking lots used by the post office. Penn will begin this fall to move forward with a project called: "Penn Connects -- A Vision For the Future," which will include open space, athletic fields and academic, cultural, commercial and residential buildings.

The IRS is consolidating operations from Northeast Philadephia and other sites. The post office has built a modern distribution center near Philadelphia International Airport.

Published August 31, 2007 by the Philadelphia Business Journal
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 1:28 PM
Pennsgrant Pennsgrant is offline
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Originally Posted by vmx View Post
pennsgrant, I am all for it, don't take it the wrong way... I do have my doubts... brandywine is NOT one of the largest companies out there, although at the moment it is "still" financially sound.


Brandywine, with headquarters in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., now owns or manages a portfolio of 49 million square feet of space with a total market capitalization of $6 billion, making it one of the largest office real estate investment trusts in the industry.

Originally Posted by vmx
Look at our belowed RAIT (NYSE: RAS). It went from hero to almost zero in no time (only about 2 months ago RAS market cap was as big as BDN now).
Rait is a mid level real estate broker specializing in debt financing. Whereas Brandywine Realty is a national real estate developer. I just don't see the comparison. Two completely different sectors. Just beause Rait is struggling with securities issues doesn't mean Brandywine can't go to a larger broker to get capital.

This isn't a project where you go looking for pessimism. Just my opinion, but if this project doesn't come to fruition it would be a shock. Anything is possible but it would take a huge downturn in the economy to throw mud in the eye of U.Penn,Brandywine,Keating. 3 of the most powerful, deep pocketed entities in Pennsylvania.

This isn't World Acquisition Partners, this isn't Marina View, this isn't Mahoney.
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 3:07 PM
Plokoon11 Plokoon11 is offline
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This looks great, how much feet are we talking here? 500-400? Looks like a great addition to west Philly.
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 6:42 PM
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This isn't World Acquisition Partners, this isn't Marina View, this isn't Mahoney------
great quote.. your right.. this project is an almost certainty
I heart Philly
Old Posted Sep 1, 2007, 7:49 PM
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