New name for former oil refinery site

The site of the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery in South Philadelphia will officially be called the Bellwether District. 

Hilco Redevelopment Partners, which is repurposing the 1,300-acre property, announced the branding change on Monday as it continues to repurpose the former refinery into a state-of-the-art multi-modal logistics facility to move goods and services from all over the world.

The 150-year-old property, located near 26th Street and Penrose Avenue, encompasses 2 percent of the total land mass of the city and will soon be home to local businesses. It is expected to create 19,000 permanent jobs over the next 15 years and and create a path to long-term professional opportunities for Philadelphia and the surrounding region’s residents. 

Bellwether, defined by Merriam-Webster as “one that takes the lead or initiative,” describes the company’s goal to reaffirm Philadelphia as an innovator and achiever of many firsts for the country.

With a tagline of “Next Starts Here,” the Bellwether District aims to transform the property to create business and employment opportunities for residents.

“Nowhere is the story of re-creation and re-envisioning being played out more dramatically than it is here at The Bellwether District in Philadelphia,” Roberto Perez, CEO of HRP, said in a statement. “The Bellwether District is a holistic, thoughtful reimagining of post-industrial property into a cleaner, greener and more sustainable workplace for generations of people and businesses.”

WIth the creation of the Bellwether District, four new city streets will be created and two of them will pay homage to African American Philadelphians, including James Forten, a Philadelphia businessperson and abolitionist, and Frances Harper, one of the first African American women to be published in the U.S.

According to officials, the Bellwether District will continue newly created outreach traditions by Hilco.

Since acquiring the property in June 2020, Hilco has donated more than 3,000 coats and winter accessories to local families; participated in numerous city clean-up days collecting trash; and donated 1,000 turkeys in partnership with City Council.

HRP also established the Career Connected Learning System with the School District of Philadelphia, welcoming 40 students into its internship program, which focuses on career technical and education projects.