Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

World’s Largest Gene and Cell Therapy Facility Planned in PA

Plans are underway for Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CMB), a 680,000 square-foot gene and cell therapymanufacturing facility at the Discovery Labs in Upper Merion Township, PA. CBM would be the largest gene and cell therapy manufacturing facility in the world. The $500 million Discovery Labs include customizable lab space. The campus, which is being used by some companies during renovations, is expected to add a hotel for visiting scientists and medical collaborators, as well as a restaurant and other amenities.

Used for research, development, and commercialization of therapies, the ambitious CMB requires $1.1 billion in funding. When the plan was announced, some believed raising that amount of money was unrealistic, but there will no doubt be more interest in medical research and development thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic. And the interest and need for such work will require more facilities.

The CBM will be built in the former GlaxoSmithKline lab space. Plans call for the hiring of 2,000 people over the next two and a half years.

Pennsylvania to Restart Construction May 1

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced that all construction projects can restart on May 1. Non-essential construction was shut down as part of the state’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 21.
The May 1 date is a week earlier than Wolf’s original green light for construction. As of Wednesday’s statements from Wolf, construction sites will be opened before the rest of the state, which is still scheduled to start a multi-phased reopening on May 8.
Wolf emphasized that federal and state health guidelines must be followed as businesses slowly reopen and any flare-up of coronavirus cases could lead to closing things down again.

Pennsylvania Governor Shuts Down All Non Life-Sustaining Businesses

The governor of Pennsylvania has increased the state’s response to attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus–ordering the closure of all businesses that aren’t “life-sustaining.” Philadelphia is included in this order. The order goes into effect Saturday and will be enforced, Governor Tom Wolf said.

The governor’s office posted a detailed list of businesses, stating which are allowed to continue operations and which are not. All construction is to shut down.

Construction Can Continue as Pennsylvania Shuts Down Non-Essential Businesses

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday March 17
The city of Philadelphia and entire state of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that it was shutting down all non-essential businesses in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. General construction services, however, were among the exceptions of work being shut down. Building maintenance and household repairs, including HVAC and utility work, were also exempted.

Medical Marijuana Sparks Facilities Construction

Construction of medical marijuana facilities and distribution centers has become a consistent piece of industry business in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  And as legalizing recreational marijuana is discussed in state legislatures throughout the country, there is growing possibility that more of these facilities will be needed.

Right now there are four projects either in planning or under construction in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In October, a project was completed in Chester, PA.

There are specific considerations when building such a facility, according to the Cannabis Business Times, including designing for the proper air flow and humidity and availability of power and water. And of course, as with any construction, location is key.

In Green Township, NJ, discussions are underway about what to do with the Trinca Airport Redevelopment site. A medical marijuana facility is a possibility, although critics say it would violate the Drug Free School Zone laws. A solar farm is also an option there.

Meanwhile, a spring 2020 target date has been set for a 70,000-square-foot Agronomed Medical Marijuana Growing & Processing Facility on a nearly nine acre site in Chester, PA; the Harmony Foundation Medical Marijuana Facility at the Merck Site in Lafayette, NJ, has a target date in the third quarter of this year; and applications for a final site plan have been approved for a project in Rochelle Park, NJ.

The Harmony job consists of two-story, 282,000-square-foot facility with one existing building on the site renovated for administration, research and development space. Two lanes of roadway will also be added in an attempt to reduce any added traffic.

In Rochelle Park, the plan calls for a medical marijuana facility of more than 7,000 square feet in a space currently occupied by an antique store. In addition, there would be construction of a six-story self-storage facility with more than 120,000 square feet at the site of an existing retail center.

Plans Continue To Turn Open Space into Parks in NJ and PA

The beginning of 2020 has seen a commitment from local government to turn open space into parks throughout the area.

In Mercer County, NJ, the county park commission approved a plan for the Miry Run Ponds Passive Park at Dam Site 21. The proposal covers the cleanup and conversion of 279 acres of county-owned space spanning Hamilton, Robbinsville and West Windsor. It will be turned into a passive recreation park with trail, walkways, playgrounds, a kayak launch and plantings to buffer nearby homes from the park.

In northern NJ, the Hoboken major reiterated the city’s commitment to coming to terms on a deal that would allow the conversion of the 3.15 acres of Union Dry Dock property into a waterfront park.

And in Eastern Delaware County, PA, the county council has declared that 30 acres of open space is OK for park use. The county released the Rosa Tree Park at Little Flower Manor Open Space Master Site Development Plan in Darby Borough. The master plan includes picnic groves, a walking trail connection to the Darby Creek Trail at the Woodburne Mansion property, as well as a community garden and an education center. An engineering study on the restoration of the historic 49,000 square foot Woodburne Mansion located on the property has not yet been completed

Pennsylvania Adds Funds for Construction Projects; Governor Pushes for Infrastructure Funding Program

January brings many state-of-the-state addresses by governors, who announce their priorities and budget plans for the coming year. In Pennsylvania, however, many counties didn’t have to wait for 2020’s speech to know some money was coming their way for infrastructure and construction needs. On December 30, Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of more than $5 million in funding through the Keystone Communities program for 42 revitalization projects that include construction and business development.

The following funds and projects were included in the governor’s announcement:

Bucks County

  • Quakertown: $50,000 façade grant for a façade improvement program in the designated Keystone Main Street area of Quakertown Borough, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
  • Redevelopment Authority of Bucks County: $50,000 façade grant for a façade improvement program in downtown Bristol, benefiting at least ten storefronts.

Delaware County

  • Lansdowne Economic Development Corp.: $50,000 to assist in the construction of the Lansdowne Maker Space, a 2,500-square-foot tech-based maker space.

Philadelphia County

  • City of Philadelphia: $250,000 for renovations to the Happy Hollow playground at the Happy Hollow Recreation Center in Germantown, to address the failing conditions of the playground and to restructure its layout, install new site furnishings and lighting, replace equipment, purchase and install safety surface material and new outdoor fitness equipment.

Wolf is also hoping his state legislature backs his Restore Pennsylvania multibillion-dollar capital plan that he proposed last year to help with the state’s infrastructure issues. Funding the plan requires a severance tax on natural gas and has met with resistance. Wolf recently tweeted that if the plan gets approved, some of that money can be used to help with the infrastructure issues in Philadelphia schools—including remediating contaminants such as asbestos.

Four Philadelphia schools had to close this school year because of asbestos. The superintendent recently outlined an Environmental Safety Improvement Plan, which will use $12 million in funds from its budget to speed up asbestos abatement in the impacted schools.

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).