A ‘vertical neighborhood’ rises at Penn’s eastern edge

The soon-to-be completed FMC Tower is like no other high-rise in Philadelphia, Jeff Weinstein says, dubbing it the city’s first “vertical neighborhood.”

“You can live in it and work in it, and so much more,” he says.

Weinstein, vice president of construction for local real estate company Brandywine Realty Trust, has worked closely with Penn for two-and-a-half years, seeing the 49-story building from start to finish. The FMC Tower, located at 30th and Walnut streets, is the third and final leg of Brandywine’s Cira Centre South project, encompassing major developments on Penn-owned land—the former U.S. Postal Service lands—along the western bank of the Schuylkill River. Other projects consisted of Evo, which provides upscale housing for college students, and Cira Green, an elevated one-acre urban park.

In addition to holding the ground lease, Penn is a major tenant of the FMC Tower, claiming 100,000 square feet of space. Occupying the building’s first four floors are Penn’s Office of Investments, central Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Office of the General Counsel, and Office of Risk Management.

“It’s a real benefit for these Penn occupants, who can now configure the space to optimize their needs as departments,” says Ed Datz, executive director of real estate in the University’s Division of Facilities & Real Estate Services. “They’ll have increased efficiency from the synergy and co-location that the space provides, instead of functioning in different locations, and will also have this high-quality, trophy-grade office layout enabling a great work environment.”

Datz adds that the FMC Tower exemplifies part of the mission of President Amy Gutmann’s Penn Connects 2.0 plan—to further connect the University to Center City.

“It creates such an attractive gateway from Center City into University City,” Datz says.

FMC Corp., the company whose name crowns the site with massive red letters, has relocated its corporate headquarters from Center City to the Pelli Clark Pelli-designed building, occupying 250,000 square feet of the structure’s 622,000 square feet of office space. Being amongst the intellectual capital that exists in University City is appealing for the chemical manufacturing giant.

“We are excited to be part of University City, and look forward to greater collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and the other outstanding institutions in this thriving neighborhood,” says Ken Gedaka, FMC’s vice president of communications and public affairs. “FMC Tower is raising our profile, which will help us attract some of the region’s top talent. It’s an exciting time for us, and we’re thrilled to be Penn’s new next-door neighbor.”

The value of the company’s new location is shared by Penn, says Datz.

“FMC is now part of University City, and part of our infrastructure,” he says. “We would love to keep our graduates in Philadelphia and in our neighborhood.”

Another major tenant in the space is Nasdaq Stock Market, which occupies 75,000 square feet.

The 18 upper floors of the building consist of 105 luxury residential apartments and 163 furnished extended-stay suites, managed by AKA, a division of Korman Communities, which operates similar upscale dwellings throughout major cities in the United States and abroad. Units have 10-foot, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, allowing a view that is “just spectacular,” Weinstein says.

“There’s nothing around the building that blocks the view,” says Weinstein. “Looking north, you see the Philadelphia Museum of Art and out to Valley Forge Park; south, you see the river; west, you have Penn’s beautiful campus and its surrounding neighborhoods; and east, you have a view of Center City you can’t get anywhere else.”

Operating as somewhat of a middle-point between the FMC Tower’s commercial and residential uses is an amenity level—open to all the building’s occupants through memberships. It boasts a private media lounge and theater, fitness and yoga rooms, and an aquatic center with a 73-foot indoor lap pool.

A 3,000-square-foot restaurant and bar, to be operated by restaurateurs behind New York City’s Michelin-starred Rebelle, is in development on the lower level of the FMC Tower, and is slated to open sometime early this year.

“Adding in the restaurant and amenities makes the building truly full-service,” Weinstein says. “If you really didn’t want to leave, you wouldn’t have to.”