PHILADELPHIA-Three finalists have been selected from a short list of five joint-venture teams that vied to win the develop contract for the 131-acre Byberry State Hospital site. They are: locally based Berwind Property Group and Realen Homes; Conshohocken, PA-based Preferred Real Estate Investments and Ft. Washington, PA-based Westrum Development Co.; and locally based Brandywine Realty Trust and Pulte Homes, which is based in Bloomfield, MI.

Two teams were dropped from the short list, announced last December. They are locally based Binswanger/CBB and Realen Properties, which is based in Berwyn, PA; and Malvern, PA-based Liberty Property Trust and Nolen Cos., from King of Prussia, PA.

The site, which opened as a state mental hospital in 1907, has been closed for the past 13 years. In July 2003, the state transferred ownership to the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. for $850,000 on the provision that PIDC would develop a master plan with the approval of the surrounding community. PIDC prepared a conceptual master plan that includes a mix of low-density, market-rate housing; suburban office development, and 25 acres of deed-restricted open space.

As a result, this January, the state completed the sale, transferring ownership to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID), which is an agency managed by PIDC. PIDC will now select a development team to prepare a detailed master plan that meets the community-approved criteria. There are approximately 20 buildings on the property, which will have to be demolished at an estimated cost of $15 million. Demolition and traffic improvements work is scheduled for later this year.

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