Bigger plans for developing both sides of Schuylkill

 At Crescent Trail Park, skateboarders take advantage of a small park under the Grays Ferry Road. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

At Crescent Trail Park, skateboarders take advantage of a small park under the Grays Ferry Road. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

The area along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia is alive with development. In the last few years new businesses, residences and university buildings have sprung up along with the River Trail.

Today real estate professionals gathered for an Urban Land Institute discussion to talk about the progress so far, and the future.

The Schuylkill Corridor connects two big economic engines: Center City and the University City District.

Developer Carl Dranoff suggested that it could be more than housing and street level stores.

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“For the most part the development has been private sector,” Dranoff said. “It’s been in collaboration with plans and ground leases and connections with the universities and the ‘eds and meds.’ But there will be tremendous opportunities for office development, research development, housing, retail.”

Dranoff pointed to MIT in the Boston area where he says the campus has a tremendous private sector research facility. He pointed out that Philly needs to attract new jobs and research facilities and new start-ups, instead of just shifting around the current players.

“Up to now we’ve attracted too few new jobs. I hope that changes,” he said. “But new exciting plans, more modern facilities — that will attract new companies. And I hope that begets new housing and new retail.”

Anne Papageorge, the University of Pennsylvania’s Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services, said while great strides have been made, there is still more to do.

“We’d like to see in the next five years and believe it’s doable improved connectivity over Gray’s Ferry Bridge from a pedestrian point of view — a more pedestiran-friendly connection,” she said.

Dranoff and the other speakers mentioned the Schuylkill River Trail and the area’s proximity to 30th Street Station’s transit hub as major strengths the area can capitalize on moving forward.

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