Making plans for 30th Street Station

The public plaza to the south of 30th Street Station is now open. The station has been and is the site of much construction and restoration, and Amtrak is seeing input on a master development plan.
The public plaza to the south of 30th Street Station is now open. The station has been and is the site of much construction and restoration, and Amtrak is seeing input on a master development plan. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 09, 2013

Amtrak is seeking redevelopment plans for 30th Street Station and the surrounding area, including the potentially lucrative air rights above the rail yards adjacent to the station.

After several years of preparation, Amtrak announced Monday that it wants proposals for a master development plan delivered by Nov. 18.

Amtrak is working with Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust to redevelop the 80-year-old station and its University City neighborhood. A coordinating committee of significant players, such as the University of Pennsylvania, SEPTA, and the city, also will be involved, Amtrak said.

The master plan, similar to planning efforts underway for Amtrak stations in New York, Washington, and Boston, will seek to make the neoclassical 30th Street Station a more welcoming gateway to West Philadelphia and Center City.

The station, Amtrak's third-busiest, serves more than seven million Amtrak, SEPTA, and NJ Transit passengers a year, but is isolated by a river, two expressways, a cordon of busy streets, and a wasteland of parking lots.

The master plan will "identify commercial development opportunities" around the station and develop "improved connectivity between the station and the neighboring community," including better auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access, Amtrak said.

In addition, the plan is expected to analyze ways to build above the Penn Coach Yards that stretch north of the station, blocking development.

Currently, the station is even more inaccessible than usual, surrounded by ongoing construction and newly installed scaffolding.

The scaffolding will be in place for years to protect pedestrians during a planned restoration of the limestone facade of the building.

The $60 million restoration won't start until Amtrak gets the money from Congress, and there is no indication when that might happen.

For nearly a year, the west entrance to the station has been blocked by construction to remake the pedestrian and parking plaza there. The surface work is to be completed by Thanksgiving, allowing the west entrance to reopen, although underground work will continue for another year.

That $30 million Amtrak project has involved replacing deteriorated structural columns, beams, and surface decking of the under-street parking facility beneath the station.

Opened in 1933 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, 30th Street Station handles 120 Amtrak trains, 960 SEPTA trains, and 26 NJ Transit trains each weekday. More than four million Amtrak passengers went through the station last year.

Parties interested in submitting master-plan proposals may contact contracting agent Carlton Myers in Amtrak's procurement department at carlton.myers@amtrak.com.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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