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A new 12-story apartment complex has been proposed at 40th and Market blocks away from the University City Townhomes. Credit: Mollie Benn

Plans for a new 12-story apartment complex at the intersection of 40th and Market streets in the University City West Powelton neighborhood have been announced. 

When complete, the project will include 350 residential units and 2,835 feet of commercial space. It is set to be the first large-scale development at the intersection, which was previously dominated by one- and two-story food, clothing, and service providers, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brightside Academy, a two-story daycare, currently occupies the space. 

The developer, Quaker Lane Capital, is a certified minority business enterprise, meaning that most of its shareholders are people of color. It is collaborating with design team CUBE 3 on its vision for the development — an L-shaped building with a brick base meant to complement the materials of the surrounding neighborhood. 

2001 Wharton graduate Puja Suneja Peruto, a principal at Quaker Lane, told the Inquirer that one-fifths of the 150 residential units will be reserved for workforce housing and targeted towards professionals in the community — primarily those working at nearby educational and medical institutions. 

Facilities and Real Estate Services declined a request for comment about the new development's impact on the Penn community. 

The rent for these units has not been announced, but rates in Philadelphia typically range from 80% to 120% of  the area's median income. Peruto added that these units are not intended for shared student housing, which is already prevalent in the neighborhood. 

The project was approved by Philadelphia’s Civic Design Review committee on June 6. Quaker Lane predicts that it will start work on the project in one to two years. According to the Inquirer, the commercial space is marked as a coffee shop in the renderings, but that designation is not final. 

This announcement comes amidst a growing controversy about new developments in University City, a historically Black neighborhood that has become increasingly gentrified. 

Quaker Lane’s new building will be only blocks from the University City Townhomes, a site of recent outrage and community protest after the developer opted to end the area’s affordable housing contract. 

To help ease integration into the community, Quaker Lane has been negotiating with West Powelton/Saunders Park RCO, a neighborhood advocacy group. Chair Pam Andrews noted to the Inquirer that although some members are anxious about the changing demographics of their community, Quaker Lane has been more receptive to local concerns than most developers. 

"It will change the demographics of the area, and there are people in the community who have been here for decades, and they’re sad to see it,” Andrews told the Inquirer. “We’re trying to work creatively with the developer to get the best possible results for the community. I’m feeling encouraged with them."