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Ground breaking to begin on Penn Project
The University of Pennsylvania will begin construction today of its epic 24-acre Penn Park, the centerpiece of its 30-year master plan involving land it acquired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2004.
The $46 million riverfront development project on the eastern edge of campus will include athletic fields, tennis courts, bike trails, and a multilevel elevated walk. It will increase the urban university's green space by 20 percent.
Replacing bland asphalt lots and an old industrial site, the project will help to transform the landscape of West Philadelphia, and link the university's main campus with bustling Center City.
In short, it's trading ugly for pretty.
Construction is scheduled to be complete by mid- to late summer 2011, in time for the start of that academic year.
"It's a tremendously exciting time in Penn's history, to be able to add a significant amount of open space adjacent to the campus in an economic climate like this," said Anne Papageorge, Penn's vice president for facilities and real estate services.
Penn in 2004 purchased 14 acres from the Postal Service and announced plans for the park, two office towers with a mix of university space, retail and residential areas, and a 2,400-space parking garage. The park project also includes 10 acres previously owned by the university.
A developer purchased the postal building from Penn - making Penn's net cost for the postal lands $12 million - and will lease it to the IRS after renovations are complete. Construction of the garage also is under way and is scheduled to be completed next summer, and plans are in the works for the towers.