Jan 13, 2023 - News

First phase of South Philly's new Bellwether District to soon begin

A rendering of Hilco's development project for South Philadelphia

A rendering of the Bellwether District in South Philadelphia facing southward. Courtesy of Hilco Redevelopment Partners

One of Philly's largest development projects is on the cusp of breaking ground.

What's happening: Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) will begin the initial phase of its multibillion-dollar project in South Philly, dubbed the Bellwether District, in the coming months.

  • The site spans 1,300 acres along the Schuylkill River and is slated to take 10-15 years to complete.

Why it matters: The development will transform the site of a shuttered, century-old refinery into what's expected to be one of the country's largest life science campuses.

  • The project, which includes an industrial and logistics area, is estimated to create approximately 19,000 jobs when completed.
  • And HRP is conducting a massive environmental cleanup at the site to make the project a reality.

Flashback: The area was formerly home to the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, which was the largest on the East Coast before it shuttered in 2019 following a fire that led to bankruptcy.

Details: The Bellwether District project is split into two sections divided by Passyunk Avenue.

  • To the north: A 250-acre life sciences area will be located near Grays Ferry.
  • To the south: An industrial and logistics area spanning 750 acres.

1 cool thing: The project will provide new roads, bike lanes and access to the area along the Schuylkill that's been off limits for more than a century.

The latest: HRP has removed 90% of the old refinery so far.

  • Environmental remediation at the site is ongoing.

What they're saying: The project will build on the life science hubs nearby at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, while bringing supply chain logistics to an area near the airport, Roberto Perez, CEO of Hilco, told Axios.

What's ahead: Crews are expected to begin laying the groundwork for the site's infrastructure, such as roads and electrical lines, by March.

  • Construction on at least one of the site's LEED-certified warehouses is pegged to begin later this year.

Of note: HRP has yet to secure any tenants for the development.

  • The market will ultimately determine the project's timeline and scope, including the number of buildings, the developer said.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that the Bellwether District site spans 1,300 acres, not 1,300 square feet, and that construction on one of the site’s warehouses will begin later this year, not in 2024.


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