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PHILADELPHIA-The first dirt has been moved to begin development of the Eagle Pointe community on the 131-acre Northeast Philadelphia site of the former Pennsylvania State Hospital at Byberry. The project is a joint venture between Fort Washington-based Westrum Development Co., which is constructing the residential component, and Plymouth Meeting-based Brandywine Realty Trust, which plans a 50-acre parcel containing up to 750,000 sf of office space.

The hospital, located at 2651 Southampton Road in the Somerton neighborhood, opened in 1907 and was shuttered approximately 16 years ago. In the intervening years it has suffered from vandalism and decay. The state conveyed the site to Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. for $850,000, requiring PIDC to develop a master plan. Mayor John Street and Stephanie Naidoff, city commerce director, selected Westrum/Brandywine in October 2004 from among five JVs that bid on development of the mixed-use community. It is a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which allows tax abatements for 10 years.

The existing 23 buildings will be demolished, and environmental remediation of the site is expected to cost in excess of $14 million, according to John Westrum, CEO. The residential section, called the Arbours at Eagle Pointe, will contain 398 age-restricted active adult housing units in a mix of condos, townhouses and single-family buildings. There will also be a 7,500-sf clubhouse, pool and tennis courts. According to published reports the construction cost is estimated at about $150 million, and units will sell in a range of from $300,000 to above $600,000.

Beginning in June 2007, Brandywine has a five-year option to develop up to 750,000 sf of office space, called the Offices at Eagle Pointe, on a 50-acre parcel within the community. During a press conference at the site, Gerard Sweeney, president and CEO, said the development “represents an opportunity to create a new office market in this community and a new labor pool.” Estimated construction costs are undisclosed.

Representatives of Westrum and Brandywine have held ongoing discussions with the Somerton Civic Association since their selection and tailored plans to satisfy concerns about traffic and density. Approximately 25 acres at the site will be left vacant. Full build-out is expected to take five years.

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