Earlier this week I attended the University City District (UCD), the
neighborhood improvement and economic development organization in West
Philadelphia,  The State of University City 2012, conference at World Cafe in University City.

It’s amazing the growth of University City District has done in the past few years.   While the City was looking to other areas in the City to be the next hot neighborhood, UCD was steady as they go and should now be bestowed with the hot Philadelphia neighborhood title.

Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital
Craig Carnaroli, University of Pennsylvania
Joe Reagan, Wexford Science and Technologies
Curt Hess, The Science Center
Matt Bergheiser, University City District

University City, the 2.4 square mile area just west of the Schuylkill River, has
become a place where Philadelphia’s future is happening today. It’s a
boomtown with roughly 70,000 jobs and $3 billion in current real estate
projects.  Each year, neighborhood institutions are investing more than
$1 billion dollars in R&D spending into new cures and innovation,
and University City is now home to 27 acres of new green space created
in the last year alone. Global innovators, venture capitalists, Iron
Chefs, and three hotels all call University City home.(Source)

 Built on the indispensable foundation of
clean and safe, UCD has steered its work to match the vision of its
partners, and to create new possibilities for the neighborhood. From The
Porch at 30th Street Station to parklets and pedestrian
plazas to transforming public space with art and even a neighborhood
composting facility, UCD continues to put its stamp on one of the most vibrant and vital neighborhoods in the region.

Real Estate Development

·        The
number of hotel rooms in University City increased to 759 in 2012, a
jump of 18% propelled by the opening of the Homewood Suites by Hilton.
·        Approximately
2.4 million SF of new development is currently under construction,
representing approximately $1.3 billion in investment.
·        Approximately
2.3 million SF of new development is planned for construction in the
next 1-2 years representing hundreds of millions of additional dollars.
·        Including planned projects, more than 27 acres of new green space will have been added in 2011 and 2012.

Commercial Vitality

·        Despite
the slow national economy in 2011, new retail and dining options
continued to flourish in University City. Overall, University City’s
vacancy rate for ground floor commercial spaces fell from 11.3% to 10.6%
as the number of restaurants, cafes and bakeries increased by 5.3% and
the number of stores increased by 5.5%. Those totals include 19 new
dining and drinking establishments in University City.
·        In
2011, University City saw an 8% increase in restaurant and sidewalk
seating representing an increase in sidewalk and retail vitality.
·        Pedestrian
counts continue to grow, particularly on University City’s commercial
corridors, including Baltimore Avenue, where the number of pedestrians
has increased by 99% at peak times over five years.
·        UCD’s
signature events such as University City Dining Days presented by Wells
Fargo, and the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, which bring thousands of
new faces to our commercial corridors and shops, are vastly increasing
sales for our local merchants.

Employment and Office Space

·        With
roughly 70,000 employees, University City accounts for approximately
12% of the city’s total employment, a number that has been increasing
·        The
office market continues to be among the strongest in the region with a
vacancy rate of 8.8%, third lowest among 29 regional submarkets.

There was a board there where people could write their hopes, dreams and plans for what University City should look like in the next 15 years.


·        University
City universities have increased their R&D expenditures in science
and engineering by 83% in the last 10 years and by 316% in the last 20
·        University
City researchers received more than 44% of all NIH funding distributed
statewide, as well as more than $42 million from the National Science
Foundation, an increase of more than 5% from 2010.

A Neighborhood of Choice

·        Median
home prices have risen dramatically – more than tripling over ten years
– and held their value despite the national housing downturn.
·        Enrollment
at University City institutions continues to climb, 6% in the last five
years, and tellingly, the percentage of graduate students choosing to
live in University City has risen dramatically
·        The
population of young and educated people in University City has
increased dramatically as the total population continues to grow:
Residents aged 20-34 increased by nearly 21% between 2000 and 2010; More
than 54% of UC residents have a Bachelor’s Degree or above,
representing an increase of nearly 41% since 2000; UC’s population grew
by 2.6% since 2000 and 4.9% since 1990.
·        Growth
in income is outpacing that in the city overall. Average household
income grew by 49% since 2000, compared to 23% in the city overall.
·        Thanks
to our density, excellent public transit service, and extensive network
of bicycle lanes, University City residents overwhelmingly commute
without using private vehicles, in stark contrast to the city or nation
overall – nearly 66% commute by walking, public transit, or bicycle,
compared to 36% in Philadelphia overall and 8% nationally.

  At UCD, we believe that University City’s
future is critical to the future of our city and region, and that the
unique assets, opportunities and environment here are both an engine of
prosperity and an exemplar of community.   UCD promotes a world class,
vibrant University City through major investments in public space
development, public maintenance and public safety, by connecting
entrepreneurs and residents to economic opportunity, and through the
creation and management of destination events. This publication
illustrates the exciting progress of the neighborhood and the impact of
University City District. To obtain copies, contact the UCD by phone at 215-243-0555 or by email at

Lori Klein Brennan, Director of Marketing and Communications

University City District – Most of the information on this page came directly from the Press Release as it was much more extensive than my brain could comprehend besides, wow University City is a hot neighborhood to live in. So much going on. I love that Porch!!