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A rendering of the new life sciences research lab to be built at 3201 Cuthbert Street (Rendering from Gattuso Development Partners).

The largest life sciences lab and research facility in Philadelphia will open in University City by the end of 2024.

The $290 million facility, which was announced by Gattuso Development Partners and Vigilant Holdings of New York, will begin construction in February and serve as another addition to Philadelphia’s health and biotech scene. The building’s developer told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they hope to aid the growing life sciences industry in Philadelphia.

The 11-story building will be located at 3201 Cuthbert Street, a few blocks away from 30th Street Station. It will feature 520,000 square feet of wet lab and dry space, about 12,000 square feet of retail space on street level, and an underground parking lot with 137 spots. 

Drexel University has already pre-leased 45% of the lab space in conjunction with SmartLabs, in the company’s first expansion beyond Boston or San Francisco. The property will offer lab technology, including an HVAC system, best-practice chemical storage space, pH neutralization capability, and six enclosed loading docks. Additionally, the facility is expected to meet LEED Gold certification. 

John Gattuso, Gattuso Development’s president and co-founder, told the DP that the market for research and development in Philadelphia makes it an attractive place to build. 

“We were very excited about bringing this project to Philadelphia and to the market. And I expect you’ll see a significant movement in the direction of high quality and capability with regard to the life sciences here,” Gattuso said. “The market has achieved a certain scale and a certain sophistication that is beginning to put it into a league with some of its leading competitors in and around the Bay Area and in Boston.” 

Developers have worked with Drexel to improve the pedestrian environment through the portion of University City near the lab. The landscape design is being done by James Corner Field Operations, the architect of New York City’s High Line. 

Cuthbert Street, which is currently an alleyway to other streets, is being converted to a pedestrian walkway that will span from 32nd to 33rd Street. It will serve as a connector that will ultimately take pedestrians all the way west to 38th Street and east to 30th Street. 

Gattuso also expressed hope for the area’s development in the coming years.

“It will include some very nice public spaces in the lobby area … [including] food and beverage restaurants along 33rd Street … [and] a nice ability to have outdoor cafes,” Gattuso said.

The project, and others, are expected to attract more people to Philadelphia’s bustling academic and scientific community, provide new and unique jobs, and bolster the overall economy in the region. 

“You’re looking at billions and billions of dollars right now supporting and enhancing the overall economy of not just the city but the region … [which] will clearly lead to [an] opportunity for significant job creation,” Gattuso said.

Groundbreaking is officially set for the beginning of February 2023, with full completion by the end of 2024. However, some interior tenant work may begin as early as May 2024.