The North American affiliate of Australia-born infrastructure investment firm the Plenary Group has been chosen by Amtrak to lead the redevelopment of Philadelphia’s historic William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.
Members of Plenary Americas’ team include Gilbane Building Co., a Rhode Island-based contractor that was forced to halt construction at the Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia during coronavirus work stoppages in April.
The Plenary-led team was picked by Amtrak’s board to redevelop its third-busiest station based on its “proposal and successful record of project delivery, extensive experience with complex mixed-use properties and adaptive reuse of historic buildings,” and commitment to partnering on projects with businesses owned by members of disadvantaged communities, the company said in a release on Thursday.
The team was selected from a shortlist that had also included locally based Brandywine Realty Trust, which is leading the development of a large neighboring section of West Philadelphia, and Meridiam, a Paris-based engineering firm that had teamed with homegrown food-and-facilities giant Aramark Corp. on its bid.
With the Plenary team’s selection, negotiations now are underway with Amtrak on the financial terms of the deal, which will be structured as a ground lease, and the project’s scope, the rail operator aid.
Amtrak has cast the station revamp as a first step toward a larger project known as the 30th Street Station District Plan that envisions the redevelopment of what would be a 175-acre site — including capping rail yards — between Walnut and Spring Garden Streets, east of the Drexel University campus and Powelton Village, over 35 years.
The plan was devised through a two-year, $5.25 million study led by Amtrak, Drexel, Brandywine, SEPTA, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that concluded in 2016.
“While this is certainly a challenging time, the redevelopment of Gray 30th Street Station is part of a core set of essential projects and strategic objectives across all the different dimensions of the company that are critical to our long-term strategy and success,” Amtrak senior executive vice president Stephen Gardner said. “We are continuing to advance those projects.”
In addition to Gilbane, which has worked on projects in multiple countries, Plenary’s team includes Johnson Controls International PLC, an Irish-domiciled building-systems conglomerate, and Vantage Airport Group of Canada, which is overseeing the management and redevelopment at Terminal B of New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Gilbane was hit with a stop-work order in April for continuing construction at the $700 million Live! Hotel & Casino after a halt to such projects had been ordered to fight the spread of the coronavirus. At least three workers at the casino site tested positive for COVID-19, according to internal communications.
Plenary Americas is owned by Quebec’s giant pension-fund manager, the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec. It is independent of the Melbourne, Australia-headquartered Plenary Group.