Philadelphia is growing. And, this summer, real estate attorneys at Ballard Spahr helped clients launch three projects that will transform three dynamic sections of the City: The Comcast Innovation & Technology Center at 18th and Arch Streets, a major mixed-use development in University City by Drexel University and Wexford Science + Technology, and Rodin Group’s Whole Foods/mid-rise multifamily project in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway district.

“These projects make an extraordinary mark, both in generating economic development and in promoting the urban experience in Philadelphia neighborhoods,” said Bart I. Mellits, Chair of Ballard Spahr’s Real Estate Department. “Together, the projects will generate thousands of permanent jobs in the City and make it a more vibrant place to live and work.”

Each project required sophisticated structuring and a broad range of legal competencies. Ballard Spahr attorneys addressed client needs with a comprehensive approach.

The Comcast Innovation & Technology Center, at 18th and Arch Streets, adjacent to Comcast’s global headquarters, is the largest private development project ever in the history of Pennsylvania. Scheduled to open in early 2018, the $1.2 billion building is expected to be the tallest building in the United States outside of New York and Chicago. The project, which will have direct access to SEPTA’s Suburban Station, will generate a staggering amount of upfront economic activity during the construction period alone, including $2.75 billion in economic activity within the Commonwealth and the creation of more than 20,000 temporary jobs. The estimated direct and indirect ongoing impact of the Comcast Innovation &Technology Center is also remarkable, creating almost 4,000 new permanent jobs within the Commonwealth and 2,800 new permanent jobs within the City. The project will also produce an estimated $30.7 million in annual Commonwealth tax revenues and an estimated $21.5 million in annual City tax revenues.

Anchor tenants in this 1.33-million-square-foot, 59-story skyscraper will be Comcast and its key affiliates, NBC10/WCAU and Telemundo 62/WWSI; a 200-plus-room Four Seasons Hotel; and a restaurant. A Ballard Spahr team led by partner Alan S. Ritterband represented Comcast in both the joint venture agreement with Liberty Property Trust and in the long-term lease of the building. Designed by world-renowned British architect Lord Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, the building will seek LEED Platinum certification.

The Drexel University City Development, planned for the 14-acre former campus of University City High School, is a collaboration between the University and Wexford Science + Technology, a BioMed Realty company. This 2.7-million-square-foot mixed-used project is a unique combination of research and lab facilities; office space for technology companies; high-rise and low-rise residential, national, and independent retail space; recreational areas; and a new K-8 public school.

The project is expected to generate 4,300 new construction jobs and, when complete, 5,600 permanent jobs. Said Mr. Mellits, who led the Ballard Spahr team: “Given the success of University City in growing jobs in science and technology, the Drexel/Wexford development will add strength to strength.”

Rodin Square, created by The Rodin Group for a three-acre parcel at 22nd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue near Philadelphia’s iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is a commercial/multifamily, mixed-use development featuring a 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, a 293-unit apartment building, and additional retail space. The project is scheduled to begin this summer. The Whole Foods Market will offer outdoor café dining, a key amenity to the City’s Parkway Museums District.

Ballard Spahr’s Philip B. Korb coordinated the acquisition, leasing, structuring, and overall development. “This was the first major project in Philadelphia that proceeded through the approval process under the new zoning code, which included the required community meetings, City Council and Planning Commission hearings, Civic Design review, Art Commission review, and Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings,” he said.

Ballard Spahr’s Real Estate Department is widely regarded as the best in Pennsylvania. The Department is continually named a top national practice, including being ranked in the highest tier nationally for real estate law by U.S. News and World Report this year.

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