Navy Yard to release 2013 Master Plan update Wednesday

UPDATED: On Friday, PIDC announced the The Navy Yard event has been rescheduled for Feb. 1. An earlier version of this story had the original date.

The Philadelphia Navy Yard will next month release its updated master plan and celebrate reaching the 10,000 jobs milestone – the employment level the shipyard boasted before it closed.

That milestone won’t officially be reached until GlaxoSmithKline has fully moved into its new headquarters at 5 Crescent Drive. GSK will start their move in February.

The 2013 update to the 2004 Navy Yard Master Plan will reflect changes in the physical reality of the land available, since a portion of that space has gone to port expansion. It will also update goals related to housing, transit, employment and amenities, such as restaurants, retail and additional green space and trail connections.

“The Navy Yard offers many amenities and we anticipate that through the updated Master Plan, we will continue to see even more,” said John Vavricka, President and CEO of Iroko Pharmaceuticals, which moved into its new headquarters, built to LEED gold standards, in November.

Iroko is developing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – commonly called NSAIDS – that provide effective pain relief at lower doses than currently available NSAIDS. There have been problems with the current doses of some NSAIDS causing health issues for patients.

Iroko opened for business at the Navy Yard five years ago, drawn there “because of the appeal and advantages of being in a vibrant, growing corporate hub in Philadelphia,” Vavricka said. “The area is a wonderful place for the life sciences because of its talent and research infrastructure.”

When asked what would make the Navy Yard better for business, Vavricka brought up two amenities for employees – one that would require SEPTA and city involvement, and one that businesses may do for themselves.

“If I had to say two things employees are excited about in the future, they would be a transit line linking The Navy Yard to Center City Philadelphia, which would have a positive impact on the area’s business growth, and local businesses here are also exploring a childcare collaborative for companies throughout The Navy Yard,” he said.

The transit situation has been under discussion for some time. SEPTA Bus Route 71 was discontinued because of lack of ridership, but it’s unclear whether ridership was low because of the frequency of the bus – it came every 20 minutes. In place of the discontinued bus Route 71, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation – the non-profit city and chamber of commerce joint venture in charge of Navy Yard planning and development – last month launched a private, Navy Yard-branded shuttle service as an interim solution. The shuttle runs express from Market East to the Navy Yard during the morning and evening rush, and a regular loop from AT&T station from the Navy Yard, replacing the 71, the rest of the day.

There has been discussion of extending the Broad Street subway line from AT&T station to the Navy Yard, and the city sought a grant to study that option. But officials have said that less-costly alternatives, such as bus-rapid transit, are likely to happen first. Learn more about the Navy Yard transit discussion here.

The master plan update was originally set for release last year. Until Friday, it was set for next week. Jennifer Tran, the communications manager for the Navy Yard, said the larger delay was partly due to the planning process taking longer to complete, and partly to enable a joint event, releasing the plan and celebrating the jobs milestone. The change from next week to Feb. 1 was due to a scheduling conflict of one of the participants, Tran said.

The Navy turned control of the yard over to the city in 2000, and PIDC was given planning and development responsibilities. PIDC hired Liberty Property Trust to help with those duties for one section of the Navy Yard, called the Corporate Center, where GSK’s new building is.

Officials from PIDC, Liberty Property Trust, and the city administration have predicted an accelerating rate of jobs growth at the Navy Yard. Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger says it is poised to become the city’s third largest employment center, behind Center City and University City, within the next decade.

Iroko Pharmaceuticals, which now has 60 employees, plans to be part of that growth, Vavricka said. Their new headquarters was designed for about 180 people. “Iroko anticipates significant growth in 2013,” he said.

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