The 29th Place on Philly YIMBY’s December 2021 Development Countdown goes to One uCity Square, a mixed-use building currently under construction in University City, West Philadelphia. Designed by ZGF Architects and developed by Wexford Science & Technology, the University City Science Center, and Ventas Inc., with Turner Construction as the contractor, the $280-million 13-story building will hold 389,000 square feet of office, laboratory, and retail space. The 250-foot-tall building, also known as Wexford One uCity Square, is part of the greater mixed-use uCity Square development, which will feature 10.5 million square feet within 15 existing and 10 newly-constructed buildings. New construction will account for three-quarters of the total square footage.
To the outside observer, the building’s salient feature will likely be its staggered, Jenga-like corner section, where outdoor terraces will sit atop the cantilevered sections. To the tenants, the building will also be notable for its large, 32,000-square-foot floor plates, floor-to-ceiling windows, 15-foot slab-to-slab ceiling heights, on-site parking, a café, a roof deck, ample adjacent public space, and, of course, all the institutions, amenities, and services of University City. According to the project website, the development team is aiming for a LEED Silver certification, while the contractor page calls for LEED Gold.
The building fronts upon the future uCity Square, a plaza that gives the name to the entire complex. At this moment, however, it remains unclear whether One uCity Square will be a valid mailing address or a “vanity” title. Some previous publications have erroneously listed the building address as 3401 Market Street, which actually indicates a different building located several blocks away and is generally associated with the address for uCity Square as a whole. One uCity Square’s exact address, at least one that most accurately ties the building to its physical location, is more elusive. The closest physical address may most accurately be described as 3800 Myron Circle.
The building, which currently stands as a near-finished, yet still unclad, steel skeleton, sprang into existence over the course of the past year. Site preparation was still in early stages as of September 2020, and excavation was in progress at the time of our visit in March of this year. Construction zoomed ahead over the following months and the structure topped out in October.
The building is already attracting an impressive tenant roster. Last month, a total of 100,000 square feet were leased to biotech companies Integral Molecular and Century Therapeutics, as well as engineering and scientific consulting firm Exponent. Just prior to the announcement, at the end of October, the Philadelphia Business Journal quoted John Grady, senior vice president at Wexford Science & Technology, as stating that the building has an “overflowing pipeline of tenants” and that the team is “in discussions with tenants that would fill and exceed the capacity of the building.”
Completion for One uCity Square is slated for the third quarter of 2022. While such a date seems perhaps overly optimistic given the building’s current stage of construction, it may be plausible if the builder maintains the rapid pace of construction we have observed so far this year.