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Navy Yard is Booming, so When Can People Live There?

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There's no doubt about it: Navy Yard's 1,200-acre campus is where the cool kids work, what with its jogging and walking paths, public green spaces, and mix of restored historic lofts and modern office buildings. About 12,000 employees currently occupy the 7.5 million square feet of real estate that's in development, including hipster haven Urban Outfitters and Marc Vetri's restaurant Lo Spiedo. Plus, it's projected that there will be 30,000 jobs at full build-out. So here's the next obvious question: Will people ever be able to actually live there?

"Eventually," according to Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for planning and development and director of commerce. Greenberger joined Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation's John Grady and Liberty Property Trust's Brian Cohen on a panel discussion of the Navy Yard at UPenn last night. During the talk, Greenberger said while the Navy Yard is currently a work-driven campus, the goal is to create "a culture of different people in one place that can be enjoyed at different hours of the day."

Grady added that the PIDC has been in talks with the U.S. Navy since 2007 to build housing on the campus and are currently negotiating deed restrictions. The tentative timeline, Grady said, is for the PDIC to begin soliciting residential developers in a year.

Initial plans considered the creation of a new neighborhood consisting of about 5,000 residential units. "But we ultimately decided that building a whole neighborhood here that's not yet connected to the city doesn't make sense. You'd have to consider building schools and more transportation," said Grady. What's more likely is the development of a smaller number of multi-family rental units for young professionals. In a Philadelphia Inquirer article last April, Grady said that would include a "combination of renovation of historic loft-type spaces and new construction."

And that's if employees can be convinced to move to the Navy Yard. Grady added that about 80 percent of requests from current tenants is for more food options and conveniences—i.e. laundry, day care, etc.—to be made available on campus. The last 20 percent is for secondary amenities, such as art galleries.

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