BioBuzz by Workforce Genetics

(Image: ANOVA uCity Square)

GMH Communities Launches ANOVA uCity Square Philadelphia, Residences for the Life Sciences

NOTE: A correction was made on 9/6/22 to indicate that the complex is set to fully open by 2022, not 2025 as was originally published.

A new, residential center aimed at life sciences-focused tenants is coming on line in the heart of Philadelphia’s medical and technological center that is designed to provide key amenities for modern living that will fill a void in affordable housing for a rapidly expanding life sciences market within the city of brotherly love.

ANOVA uCity Square Philadelphia, developed by GMH Communities and Wexford Science and Technology, provides living space for professionals and graduate students in the life sciences, healthcare and technology fields within the City of Brotherly Love. The site is a six-story, 330,000-square-foot complex that offers 462 apartment units within the University City neighborhood. The complex is set to fully open by 2022.

Not only does the uCity Square site provide comfortable apartment spaces for students and professionals, GMH Communities Chief Executive Officer Gary Holloway said the complex offers a collaborative living environment that includes numerous amenities, including utilities and high-speed internet, that are essential to a worry-free home environment. The site also offers other services, including roommate matching, concierge, grocery and dry-cleaning services, co-working spaces, soundproof office pods, gourmet vending and more. If those aren’t enough amenities, Holloway said the complex provides residents with access to two smart cars.

Philadelphia has seen significant expansions over the past several years, including sites like Discovery Labs, as well as the redevelopment of the vacant Budd Plant and the redevelopment of the famed Curtis building. As more and more investment dollars pour into the life sciences sector (a more than 111% increase over the past four years) and with an additional 10% growth expected by the end of 2022, more and more life sciences campuses have been developed that provide office and lab space for employees, without considering housing needs. The new uCity Square site is expected to fill that need within the city, Holloway said.

The SMART apartments in the complex feature 1GB high-speed internet capabilities, as well as smart thermostats and lighting. Keyless entry through app-controlled mobile access is also available for residents. Residences also come equipped with operable floor-to-ceiling windows, full size in-unit washer and dryer, Energy Star Stainless-Steel Appliances, modern designs, upscale finishes, and private outdoor space in the form of terraces, balconies, or patios.      

RELATED: Life Science Leaders Share Optimism, Discuss Opportunities at Philadelphia Life Science Summit

Also, residents of ANOVA uCity Square have access to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, as well as a two-level parking garage with 157 spaces.

Holloway said the company’s history has always been “niche-y,” with past focuses on military housing and student housing. Developing housing for life sciences students was a natural progression for their offerings. He explained that GMH Communities remains at the forefront of what consumers need. That led the company to the rapidly-expanding life sciences community in Philadelphia.

“Looking at the demographics, it felt like there was a void for the knowledge-based community,” Holloway said, adding that the “element of live, play and work” was missing in the city affectionately known as “Cellicon Valley”, which is one of the top 10 life sciences hubs in the country. “As companies move and expand in these regions, we identified an underserved demand for high-quality residential offerings, which inspired us to create the ‘Innovative Living vertical’ site.”

Holloway noted that Philadelphia isn’t the only life sciences hub where this kind of living space would fit in. He also pointed to the expanding Research Triangle Park area in North Carolina where the need is growing, as well as in Arizona and northern California.

“What we’re after is affordability,” Holloway said regarding the living space. He added that the concept has been “wildly successful,” noting that 97% of the units were leased in record time. “And the tenants are a dream.”

Currently, the majority of tenants who have secured residences in the facility are life sciences graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, as well as young professionals working in the various pharma and medtech companies across the city. Holloway noted that some of the units have also been set aside for short-term use by the families of patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He said the units allow families to relax while the caregivers, some of whom may be living in the same facility, take care of their loved ones.

“What we’re doing is providing a lifestyle for these folks in the life sciences. They’re serious, hardworking people who can remain engaged with like-minded folks in our complex. We’re taking care of home life while they’re out there saving lives,” Holloway said.

Learn more about the facility here: