Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Seven PA Real Estate Projects Get ULI Rouse Awards

by Steve Lubetkin, Globest.com
Urban Land Institute Philadelphia named seven Pennsylvania real estate projects, including five in Philadelphia, as winners of its 2015 Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence.

The award recognizes the best real estate projects completed within the last five years in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Delaware.  Nearly 30 submissions were reviewed by a panel of ULI members from across the country.

The winning projects – which represent a variety of project types, including urban mixed-use, historic preservation, adaptive reuse, multipurpose entertainment, and institutional projects – were scored on use of best practices; quality planning and design; elements that build healthy places; environmental sustainability and energy reduction; economic success and market acceptance.

“This year’s winners and finalists represent some of the most innovative real estate developments in the region,” says Christopher M. Hager, P.E., chair of ULI Philadelphia.  “The winners both this year and last year demonstrate how responsible land use has the ability to transform the built environment into something that revitalizes and reshapes our communities.”

The winners are:

3737 Science Center (Philadelphia, PA), a joint venture by the University City Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology, designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects and Strada Architecture.  This $119 million, 13-story, 334,000 square foot facility accommodates clinical, laboratory, research and office programs and was built on a narrow former brownfields site of just over a half-acre. Tenants include Penn Medicine and cutting-edge gene therapy startup Spark Therapeutics, as well as support for STEM/STEAM educational initiatives for low-income secondary school students.

Allentown Arena Complex (Allentown, PA), developed by the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority with masterplanning and design by Elkus – Manfredi Architects and Sink Combs Dethlefs,the complex includes a multipurpose arena and entertainment complex with a fully integrated mixed-use commercial development including retail, dining, health and wellness, hotel and commercial office, within a pedestrian-oriented infill site incorporating two historic buildings.  The 5.3-acre site now includes nearly one million square feet for the arena and entertainment complex, Lehigh Valley Health Network offices, Sports Performance facility, PPL Center, and Marriott Renaissance hotel, retail, dining and structured parking.  Building from recommendations in a 2004 ULI Advisory Services Panel, the development has been a catalyst for adjacent new residential and commercial redevelopment and has enhanced the image of Allentown as the commercial, entertainment and cultural center of the Lehigh Valley.

Arbor Heights (Norristown, PA) was developed by Progressive Housing Ventures and designed by Barton Partners – a small project making a large impact.  Twelve stacked townhomes were grouped into two buildings from previously vacant or burned-out structures on approximately one-third acre, blending seamlessly with 100-year-old adjacent structures in this transitioning neighborhood.  The project achieved a density of nearly 35 units per acre and high energy-efficiency through materials and systems.  All homes are sold and attracting new private investment to the neighborhood.  Creative financing included $1.2 million in public grant funds and reduced mortgage requirements.
Chestnut Square (Philadelphia, PA) is a vibrant $100.7 million urban mixed use development transforming the core of Drexel University’s campus.  Developed by American Campus Communities and designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Chestnut Square includes two eight-story buildings with attached 19-story residential tower with luxurious amenities and zero parking on a 0.8 acre piece of “leftover” land.  A creative partnership enabled the developer to achieve the University’s mission while limiting its balance sheet exposure, and the use of efficient building systems and materials is significant.

Fresh Corner Store Showcase Conversions (Philadelphia, PA):  This pilot project by The Food Trust converted five corner stores in challenged neighborhoods with an extremely focused mission of encouraging residents to walk to their corner store to get healthy food in well-designed interiors and improved exteriors by Strada Architecture.  The pilot project delivered major benefits for minimal investment and shows that sustainable and healthy foods can be sold to all demographics.  Converted stores demonstrated sharp increases in sales of fresh produce and low-fat dairy products, and increased community engagement, weekly profits, customer traffic, and improved adjacent property values.

FringeArts (Philadelphia, PA):  This project by the Fringe Arts organization and designed by Wallace, Roberts & Todd transformed a semi-abandoned historic pumping station at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into the permanent home for FringeArts, serving as the premier venue for the internationally recognized 18-day Fringe Festival with theater, dance, music and visual art, including 15,500-square-foot performance space with 225-seat black-box theater, rehearsal studio, office space for the organization, gastro-pub La Peg, outdoor plaza and picnic-style outdoor dining.  The preservation and adaptive reuse of the building in its waterfront context celebrates Philadelphia’s industrial legacy.

The View at Montgomery (Philadelphia, PA):  This dramatic new 14-story student housing building adjacent to the Temple University campus was developed by The Goldenberg Group and designed by Wallace, Roberts and Todd on the site of the former Wanamaker public school.  The building has 238 apartments and street-level retail with energizing modern design that attracts pedestrians and activates the streetscape.  Healthy building strategies include sustainable storm water management, and water-efficient landscaping, 30% reduction in water consumption and immersive recycling.  Around-the-clock student amenities include study lounges, computer lounges, top-floor Sky Lounge with floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of downtown Philadelphia, fitness pavilion and two acres of open green space, as well as a street-level restaurant sourcing environmentally-friendly ingredients.

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