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 7 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 understreet parking facility beneath the station.
Opened in 1933 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, more than 4 million Amtrak passengers went through the 30th Street Station last year.
Parties interested in submitting master-plan proposals may contact contracting agent Carlton Myers in Amtrak's procurement department at carlton.myersamtrak.com.
First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM