Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Happy Days Farm in Exton, PA, Under Contract; Development Plans May Finally Move Forward

The 246-acre Happy Days Farm in Exton, PA, is now under contract by Audubon Land Development. But the plans for the development of the site at the Downingtown Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike are unknown.

The Happy Days site has sat untouched by construction for years while projects were proposed then abandoned. The Vanguard Group bought the property 20 years ago with the initial intention of using it to expand its corporate campus. It instead chose to do that somewhere else, leased the property and never developed the land.

The company put the property up for sale in the spring and its location made it incredibly attractive to developers. In fact, before Vanguard, multiple developers considered the property for retail and mixed-use sites.

The site is zoned for industrial and commercial use, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. That includes farming and the Vanguard tenant has been continuing to operate it as a working farm. The barn and fields of crops would obviously disappear, though, should the sale go through and Audubon move forward with development.

A commercial real estate management and development company based in southeastern Pennsylvania, Audobon’s projects include everything from offices and warehouses to retail centers, retirement communities, and hotels.

Philly Set To Open Its “Yards”

As tourists head for Hudson Yards in New York City this summer, Philadelphia is ready to unveil the first part of what it hopes will eventually be a similar experience—the 14-acre, $3.5 billion West Philadelphia renovation dubbed Schuylkill Yards.

The first of the four projects that will make up Schuykill Yards will open in June. Drexel Square is a 1.3 acre park located across from the 30th Street Station. The space is part of approximately six acres of the project that has been reserved for public space. Drexel Square has been described as the lynchpin of the project and overall vision for the area.

“Some people think you put a big tall building here right outside the train station,” developer Brandywine Realty Trust’s chief executive Gerard H. Sweeney told the New York Times in 2018. “But you’ve got to create a platform for excellence, and the way you do that is you invest in public space. You create a place where people want to be.”

The City of Brotherly Love’s Yards won’t have the size and sparkle of Manhattan’s version, but developers hope to create its own Philadelphia-specific experience, something that doesn’t feel corporate or created but more like a neighborhood that came about organically.

The 14 acres of Schuykill Yards sit between 30th Street Station and Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania and will take 15 to 20 years to finish development of the entire area. It is all part of an attempt to pull together Philadelphia’s Center City district with University City and all of the business, research, and residential development in the area to form a singular downtown, according to the philly.com.

After Drexel Square, the next phase of the project is the renovation of a former newspaper building that borders the eastern edge of Drexel Square. Architects plan to keep the 50s industrial structure as they give it a modern makeover, according to the philly.com article.

Finally this winter, developers are scheduled to break ground on two towers—a more than 770,000-square-foot office building and a mixed use building next door that will have 344 apartments plus 200,000-squre-feet of office space.

The end result will 6.9 million square feet of office, lab, residential, and green space, a coming together of the business, retail, academic, commuter, and residential worlds. And another city Yards, just 90 miles south.

Report: Construction Slows on Much Needed Bridge Repairs Across U.S.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released its 2019 Bridge Report, and it is a good news/bad news (mostly the latter).

While there are fewer structurally deficient bridges than the year before, construction to fix them has slowed to the point where it would take 80 years to make the needed significant repairs, according to the report. That is not a good trend when the more than 47,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country are in need of “urgent” repairs.

Based on data from 2018, the “highlights” of the findings include:

  • Four out of 10 bridges need to be replaced or repaired
  • 47,052 of America’s 616,087 bridges are rated “structurally deficient” and need urgent repairs
  • The pace of repair in 2018 slowed compared to previous years—with only a 1 percent net reduction of deficient structures.
  • Americans cross these deficient bridges 178 million times a day.
  • Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
  • 235,020 (38 percent) of U.S. bridges have identified repair needs.
  • 18,842 (1 in 3) Interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs

The report breaks down the crumbling infrastructure by state.

Rhode Island ranked first on the list by the percentage of deficient bridges with more than 23 percent of its 780 bridges found to be structurally deficient. Pennsylvania was fifth on the list with 3,770 of its 22,737 bridges listed as deficient, which is more than 16 percent. New York was 13th (1,757 out of 17,521/10 percent). New Jersey was 23 (544 out of 6,746, 8.1 percent).

Northeast Projects At Risk of Delay, Defunding To Pay for Border Wall

There are many government construction projects in the Northeast that could be delayed and millions of dollars in funds may be diverted to pay for President Trump’s Border Wall. The  Department of Defense list of military projects that could potentially be impacted was released this week by a senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In New Jersey, a $41 million construction project at Picatinny Arsenal is at risk of being delayed, but the four projects—including work on electrical systems and mechanical systems, as well as exterior renovations and  cleaning and repairing lift stations and catch basins—totaling more than $100 million for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would go ahead as planned because those contracts are scheduled to be awarded in March, April, May and September, and the Defense Department said it would not divert funding from projects scheduled to begin before Oct. 1, according to NJ.com.

In New York, The U.S. Military Academy in West Point could lose up to $160 million designated for a new engineering center and parking centerArmy Times reported.

Four projects in Pennsylvania are at risk, including a $71 million submarine propeller manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. In Delaware, the $39 million aircraft maintenance building at Dover Air Force could be delayed, according to Delaware Business Now.

As of now, no project would be cancelled to fund the Border Wall, the Pentagon said. But for that to hold true, Congress must approve the request to fully replenish the funds, according to the Army Times.

Floor Plan Altered for Penn Medicine Pavilion

Anticipation is building for the Pavilion at Penn Medicine, which will be an innovative building on the cutting edge of hospital construction and design when it opens in 2021. Exactly what it will look like inside, however, is still something of a work-in-progress. While garage construction is underway at the site of the $1.5 billion project, the floor plan design for the patient room layout was recently altered, according to the university’s newspaper.

Part of the innovation already planned was to have rooms that converted from intensive care to a standard room or even from an operating room to recovery to discharge. Each room will also have its own private bathroom. Technology will be worked into the construction and design of the largest capital project in the university’s history and the city of Philadelphia’s most sophisticated and ambitious healthcare building.

The new design will allow for “quicker room conversion, more greeting space for visitors, and patients will be able to change room conditions with the new technology.”

While, the number of rooms will remain at approximately the same 700 total, the design’s previous floor plan included two 32-bed units on a patient floor, separated by a central public elevator and waiting space, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. The change in design will divide the beds into three units. Each unit now will contain 24 beds and will be separated by two elevator cores that serve as midpoints between each section. All of the rooms will be identically oriented with beds and bathrooms on the same side to make conversion easier.

The 1.25 million square-foot building’s eco-friendly construction includes not only the pursuit of LEED certification but plans for the re-use of water, use of 100 percent outside air and plenty of park-like, outdoor green space throughout the Pavilion building for patients, visitors and staff.

PA Governor Seeks To Fund Infrastructure with Shale Tax

Like most states across the country, Pennsylvania is need of major infrastructure upgrades. This week, Governor Tom Wolf announced his budget, which included a plan to restore and upgrade infrastructure across the state.

His budget included $4.5 billion for “impact projects” throughout Pennsylvania, including high-speed transportation and internet, over the next four years, but the cost would be covered by a proposed severance tax on natural gas drillers and not everyone supports that proposal.

This shale tax is something Wolf has tried in the past, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, which says the state’s Republicans immediately opposed the Democratic governor’s plan and said it would adversely impact the drilling industry in the state.

Pennsylvania currently imposes an impact fee on shale gas wells but does not tax the amount extracted.  The fight over the tax could delay the budget from passing and the money from getting to the infrastructure projects where it is needed.