Making University City denser

Nick Bayer, CEO of Saxby’s Coffee, shares his dream of revitalizing Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The growth of University City has traditionally been led by the Penn, joined more recently by Drexel. A true hub is developing to the point where living, working, and recreating in University City without really needing to cross the river into Center City is possible.

The elephant in the neighborhood is 30th Street Station, and the acres of uncapped rail yards leading to the station that prohibit the continued expansion of this part of the city, and cut off the neighborhoods from the waterfront. Getting pedestrian access from the University City/30th Street Station area to the waterfront is probably a century-long endeavor. Aside from the monumental rail yard capping project, there’s the Schuylkill  Expressway. But if we figure out how to cap I-95 and create a park at Penn’s Landing, maybe we can figure it out in time.

Starting with a rethink of 30th Street Station is a good place to start. It shouldn’t be simply a transitory space. It should become something close to a 24/7 hub of activity where there’s a reason to be there even if you’re not heading to another city. And where, if you are, there’s access to workspace, good restaurants, and more intentional spaces.

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