Take a look at the Bellwether District's plans to transform Philadelphia

ByWendy Daughenbaugh WPVI logo
Monday, April 15, 2024
Inside the Bellwether District's plans to transform South Philadelphia
With its spectacular skyline views, the Bellwether District is laying out a global model for sustainable development.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For more than 150 years, 1,300 acres of prime Schuylkill Riverfront real estate was home to the PES Oil Refinery and off limits to most Philadelphians.

Now it has a new owner, a new name, The Bellwether District, and a transformational plan to create an urban setting for innovation.

The plan includes weaving the property into the city grid, connecting Pennovation in University City to the Navy Yard, Center City to the airport, all without getting on the highway.

The Bellwether District is owned by a company called Hilco Redevelopment Partners or HRP.

It was founded 10 years ago with the mission of buying obsolete industrial sites and turning them into green spaces that help the community, the environment and the economy.

The plan includes 8 miles of new roads that will be designed with bike lanes and EV charging stations.

The project promises 28,000 construction jobs and 19,000 permanent jobs, spread across the site's two campuses.

The south side, near the port and airport, will be home to light manufacturing facilities.

The north side, near Penn and Drexel, will be a hub for life sciences and research.

HRP bought the refinery in 20-20, after a series of explosions in the early morning hours of June of 2019. Just by buying the property, HRP CEO Roberto Perez says, 16% of the air emissions were permanently eliminated.

The company decommissioned the refinery, dismantling 300 tanks and 950 miles of pipeline. Crews are now elevating the land to raise it out of the 100 year floodplain, with all buildings above the 500 year floodplain.

And the company is investing millions in workforce development and education, including paid internships for local middle and high schoolers.

HRP hopes the new Bellwether District's first permanent employees will be on the job next year.

The Bellwether District | Instagram