The University City Science Center plans to more than double its size over 10 years as it seeks to lure higher-profile biomedical and technology firms to the West Philadelphia business incubation and research complex.
The Science Center and its development partner on the expansion, Wexford Science & Technology, will pool their landholdings in the area to build more than four million square feet of offices, laboratories, homes, retail shops, and parking structures, the Science Center said Tuesday.
Companies such as Eli Lilly and NRG Energy already have subsidiaries at the center. Chemicals giant FMC Corp., meanwhile, plans to move into a 49-story headquarters building being built nearby, but off the center's campus.
Wexford, a BioMed Realty Trust subsidiary, is contributing to the partnership a former high school site that it purchased last year from the School District of Philadelphia for reuse.
Other work will take place on the last three open parcels of the Science Center campus near the intersections of Market Street with 34th and 38th Streets. The campus, established in 1963, now covers 17 acres.
Combining the properties to be developed as a whole gives the partners greater flexibility that can help them build facilities for the big corporations that they hope to attract, said Stephen Tang, the center's chief executive.
"We've got more options in terms of pure real estate," said Tang, who declined to provide a budget for the projects. "The thing that we are very excited about is this ability to create an anchor tenant corporate headquarters or significant corporate site."
Tang mentioned Cambridge, Mass., which has attracted big life science and medical entities such as the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, as a model of what the Philadelphia center is trying to achieve.
Google's placement of a laboratory in Pittsburgh to tap technology talent from Carnegie Mellon University was another example.
"I think those are great candidates for the kind of company we'd love to have here in University City to collaborate with the great institutions that are all around us," such as the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, he said.
The new agreement between Wexford and the Science Center marks the latest collaboration between the two.
Wexford, which specializes in office and lab projects near urban campuses, worked with the center on the development of more than 600,000 square feet in three previous expansion projects.
"This partnership is primed to create a new environment of innovation and collaboration," Wexford president Jim Berens said.