Last week Swiss Global Insurance Company, Zurich Insurance Group purchased 2.0 University Place, a Double LEED Platinum Multi-Tenant Office Building in University City in Philadelphia for the highest square foot price for a commercial office building in Philly to date.
As a local developer on a ‘2nd’ career, following 25 years as an affordable housing developer, it was a much welcomed and significant transaction for University Place Associates (UPA). We are in the second phase of an evolving multifaceted development effort around University City’s 40th and Market Street Transit Hub.
University City is Philly’s hottest commercial neighborhood and one of the fastest growing in the U.S., according to a study by CB Richard Ellis in the latter half of 2015. It is the epicenter of gene therapy research in the U.S., with ongoing cutting edge cancer research at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and the Wistar Institute, plus many other areas of ongoing scientific and technology research. The UCity Science Center is the nation’s largest urban research center. Zurich’s 200 year history, longstanding reputation and commitment to social responsibility, make it a perfect fit and a welcomed, seasoned owner-investor in UCity.
The week of Earth Day was an appropriate time for last weeks transaction. Though there were many important aspects to this deal that created value, having a LEED Double Platinum rating was one of them. We feel it made a difference. It provided the character and the soul of the design …from materials chosen to the building systems. As I am writing this, I am wondering . . . what was the difference maker in building and selling 2.0 University Place? How is the value quantified? How important is it to work in a building that’s healthy and not sick? This is a workplace that actually has filtered fresh air continuously; that affords outside space for occupants on its rooftop. How do these things impact tenant choices such as ‘length of lease’ and willingness to invest more for employee happiness and productivity? I believe there’s true and significant value to designing and building with passion, commitment, and soul. The LEED Platinum is a major part of that soul.
With that said, we’re moving forward and excited about 3.0 University Place….and who knows, 4.0 might be right on its heels. I appreciate the interest that folks are expressing in our efforts and vision. Nearly 8000 people have read my blog ‘Clearing the Air’ since last weeks announcement. If you are one of ‘these’ folks or you are hearing from me the first time, I promise continued passion, commitment to climate change at the highest level of ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED), and heartfelt diversity and inclusion in executing our vision of this reallllly coooool LEED Platinum Corridor.
*** I would love to know your opinions. Feel free to add your comments or send me a note via Linkedin.