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At the Cira Centre South construction site, demolition of the Post Office Truck Terminal Annex building continues before any additional construction can begin.

With the completion of Cira Centre South still a number of years away, for now, progress is being marked by subtraction.

Before construction can begin, the Post Office Truck Terminal Annex building that currently stands on the site along 30th Street between Chestnut and Walnut streets must first be demolished.

Penn announced the project in August 2007 after acquiring land from the U.S. Postal Service. The development is part of the Penn Connects project, Penn's eastward-expansion initiative toward the Schuylkill river.

The land is being leased to real-estate developer Brandywine Realty Trust. The project will cost $800 million to complete.

According to BRT President and CEO Jerry Sweeney, the demolition will take seven months. A timeline for Cira Centre South's completion has not yet been determined.

Because the demolition site is near high-traffic areas, including the Walnut and Chestnut street bridges as well as the Amtrak rail yard, wrecking balls and explosives will not be used. Instead, the annex is being demolished with heavy equipment and manpower.

The building will be taken apart "piece by piece," Sweeney wrote in an e-mail.

The total budget for the demolition of the Truck Terminal Annex is $3.6 million, Sweeney wrote. He added that the first building to be constructed will be a parking garage, which Internal Revenue Service employees will begin using in summer 2010.

The construction schedule for the high-rise towers, the main feature of the project, has not been decided yet.

The developers have designed a site-logistics plan to ensure that there are no street closures in the area. Once the project is completed, 30th Street between Chestnut and Walnut streets will become two-way to help alleviate the additional traffic volume.

The project is expected to provide thousands of new jobs and boost tax revenue in University City. According to an August 2007 study by Econsult, a Philadelphia-based economic consulting firm, the project will contribute $1.3 billion in total spending within the city.

Real estate and finance professor Susan Wachter said she believes Cira Centre South will "draw resources and link the existing resources of Center City to those of the University."

She added that the project would take advantage of links to New York and Washington, D.C. via 30th Street Station, which "literally fills in empty spaces and economic activity in the area."

Penn will meet with BRT tomorrow regarding Cira Centre South and sustainability, said Penn facilities spokesman Andrew Zitcer.

The office towers will house office space, condominiums, street-level retail and a hotel.

Cira Centre South will be designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the same firm that designed the original Cira Centre located at 30th and Market Streets. The Cira Centre was completed in 2005.

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