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The recently closed McDonald's on 40th and Walnut on Jan. 16th.

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

McDonald’s longtime location on 40th and Walnut streets closed on Jan. 16, paving the way for its redevelopment into a mixed-used office building operated by Penn.

Construction of the redeveloped property, which will cost around $35 million, is expected to begin early this year and conclude by fall 2024. The new building will include a modernized McDonald’s on the ground floor and will house administrative offices for the University, according to a press release from Penn's Facilities and Real Estate Services.

“We are thrilled to work with McDonald’s in the repositioning of this pivotal intersection, while ensuring the restaurant reopens and remains a fixture within the surrounding community,” Penn’s Executive Director of Real Estate Ed Datz said in a press release

A sign on the door of the McDonald's states that it is "CLOSED FOR REBUILD" and suggests that customers visit a nearby location at 133 S. 69th St. in Upper Darby, Pa. 

In September 2022, Penn announced it would close the McDonald’s location in January to pave the way for the beginning of construction. McDonald’s, which has operated its University City location for 50 years, has long been a staple of the Penn and West Philadelphia community.

“I go to McDonald’s late at night, especially during finals week since it's fast and easy,” College sophomore Daniel Dai said. “They have a lot of deals, so it’s good for someone living on a budget.” 

Dai said that while he was disappointed his dining options have now become more limited, the recent opening of the new Five Guys location has softened the blow. 

Engineering sophomore Sally Ho agreed with Dai, adding that the 40th Street McDonald’s was part of Penn’s late-night culture.

The redevelopment is Penn’s latest investment in the 40th Street corridor. Former Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush told The Daily Pennsylvanian in 2011 that the current McDonald's structure had "a lot of factors that made people feel very unsafe." In 2009, Penn’s Division of Public Safety said it was working to curtail disturbances in and around the restaurant for years, leading to increased redevelopment.

George Konstantinidis, who owns the adjacent Zesto Pizza and Grill and co-owns Yiro Yiro, told the DP that he didn’t agree with the safety concerns raised by Penn and some community members. 

“It’s the city of Philadelphia," he said. "You see unruly people anywhere. It doesn't matter if there’s a McDonald’s or not."

On Feb. 23, 2022 — one month after a grease fire erupted in McDonald's rear kitchen — the city issued the McDonald's four violations of hood ventilation and cleaning codes. In March 2022, multiple gunshots were fired outside of the building. A window of the McDonald’s was shattered in the encounter, and several shell casings were found on the street. 

Konstantinidis said he didn’t think McDonald's redevelopment would significantly affect his business despite both his restaurants being adjacent to the construction site. 

“There's not that much walking traffic like there used to be before the pandemic, so we don't get that many people,” Konstantinidis said, adding that most of his business comes from takeout and delivery orders. 

The University's press release said that the relocation of administrative offices to the new building will allow for on-campus spaces that currently house offices to be repurposed in student-centered spaces. University Life is “projected” to be one of the tenants, Datz told the DP in September.

Penn has partnered with Mosaic Development Partners, PZS Architecture, and LF Driscoll Construction/Perryman Construction to carry out the redevelopment project. The press release noted that Mosaic Development Partners “will continue to build with community and cultural sensitivity in mind” during the project.