- Brandywine Realty Trust, in conjunction with Drexel University, has started construction on the first phase of the $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards mixed-use project — the 1.3-acre Drexel Square community park and the development of almost five acres of residential, office, research and retail space, according to Curbed Philadelphia.
- The entire 14-acre development, which Brandywine and Drexel say will be a hub of innovation with the park at its center, will take as long as 20 years to complete and will include nearly 7 million square feet of new construction. Brandywine, according to NBC10, will also spend almost $6 million to launch a community program that will develop small businesses, affordable housing and jobs.
- Philadelphia has offered up Schuylkill Yards to internet retailing giant Amazon as a potential spot for its $5 billion second headquarters.
Last month, Amazon received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 North American entities, all touting to Amazon the benefits of locating HQ2 in their respective areas. The company said the new development will create 50,000 jobs and be a "full equal' to its existing headquarters in Seattle.
Before the bid deadline of Oct. 19, there was speculation that Amazon could have completed somewhat of an internal "prequalification" process, favoring those cities — Atlanta, Austin, TX, Boston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Portland, OR — where it has more than 90,000 employees already engaged in R&D operations. The company is working toward development in such areas such as transportation, search-engine technology, gaming, supply-chain and speech-recognition.
The Anderson Economic Group (AEG) did its own analysis of U.S. cities and came up with a list of the candidates most likely to win the big nod from Amazon. AEG named New York City as the best spot for such a massive operation, citing the metro's transportation system, skilled labor pool, the number of customers and access to a reliable supply chain as reasons the company would be better off in the Big Apple. The one drawback? The high cost of doing business there. Other cities at the top of AEG's list were Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Dallas, Salt Lake City and San Diego.
Activist groups, 85 in total representing 23 states, wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in advance of the bid deadline requesting that the company be prepared to give back to whichever city is the winner. The missive identified job creation, community-building and transparency, along with accountability, as the three things on which Amazon should focus.