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The nonprofit Science Center is building a new apartment building at 3601 Market Street. It aims to serve as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Credit: Courtesy of University City Science Center

Starting in 2015, there will be a new option for off-campus living.

The University City Science Center announced earlier this month that it will begin construction of a new 27-story apartment building at 3601 Market Street in fall of 2013.

The new building will be the Science Center’s first residential project. “The motivation is pretty aligned with our overall mission, which is to create a culture and a community of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Stephen S. Tang, the Science Center’s president and CEO, said.

Tang explained that the Science Center is “trying to create a community that not only works on the Science Center’s campus but that can live and play on the Science Center’s campus as well.”

The Science Center is a nonprofit organization that works with its 31 nonprofit shareholders, comprising leading universities, hospitals, and research centers located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

With the help of Wexford Equities, LLC and Southern Land Company, the new 400,000 square-foot building will include 364 apartments, ranging from one-bedroom studio apartments to more spacious two-bedroom apartments. The building will also include parking, approximately 17,000 square feet of retail space, a fitness center, a resident lounge and a rooftop pool.

With an expected completion in the spring of 2015, the Science Center is aiming for the new project to be both sustainable and environmentally friendly. The Science Center hopes that the new building will achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification, which has been already achieved at another one of the Science Center’s properties at 3711 Market Street.

“The University is not directly involved in the project although [Penn Real Estate and several area stakeholders] were presented the project by Southland and Wexford,” said Ed Datz, Executive Director of Real Estate for Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services. “The project will add options of housing for the professionals working in the … area, as well as additional options for students of the area including Penn and Drexel.”

The apartments will be sold at market rate, and will include washing machines and dryers, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. According to Tang, the new building will be similar to the Domus luxury apartment building at 34th and Walnut streets.

Tang further explained, “The hope is that [the apartments] appeal to upscale young urban entrepreneurs, professionals, post-graduate students and people who are, perhaps, starting off their careers.”

Anthony Pratcher, a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department who currently lives off-campus, explained that he wouldn’t be interested in this project’s upscale market-rate apartments. Pratcher said, “I’m not paying for a luxury apartment. I just don’t have the time or reason or need for it.”

Pratcher does, however, recognize a need for more affordable and spacious housing in the University City area.

James R. Berens, the President of Wexford Equities, said to Yahoo Finance, “This market-rate rental apartment project is a great opportunity to broaden the appeal of University City and Philadelphia’s innovation cluster.”

“There’s an opportunity in the marketplace that hasn’t been filled with the type of apartments that we’re going to be building and putting on the market,” said Tang. “I think it’s time. It’s time that the Science Center uses itself more as a community, and we have the opportunity to do so.”

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