Science Center sues Philadelphia

    A biomedical research center in West Philadelphia is suing the city for reclaiming land the Center planned to develop.

    A biomedical institution in West Philadelphia is in a turf war with the city. The University City Science Center says Philadelphia unfairly reclaimed land that the center was planning to build on.

    The University City Science Center — which helps small biotechnology companies get their start — had received land from Philadelphia’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA), with certain conditions. The Center had to develop the property by a certain date.

    But the Center failed to meet deadlines for building on the property, and is suing the city to get the land back. The lawsuit claims that Philadelphia has ignored the extreme economic circumstances that threw a wrench in the plans, and that the Science Center deserves an extension.

    Jeanne Mell, a spokeswoman for the Science Center, would not comment on the lawsuit, but read from a statement:

    Mell: The Science Center has been trying to resolve this matter amicably for two years proposing a revised development schedule to reflect the current state of the economy and most importantly to allow us to create thousands of more jobs and millions of new city revenue in a realistic time frame.

    Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter, also wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but he says the deadlines are there for a reason.

    Oliver: The RDA transfers these properties in an effort to spur development, not because it doesn’t want the property. So if no development is occurring that’s a legitimate concern and the RDA wants to then seek out new development opportunities.

    Oliver says the city will not re-issue the property until the lawsuit is resolved.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.