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Neighborhood Innovation : Development News

372 Neighborhood Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All

Panel to explore role of arts and culture in community development

There's more than one way to build community, and arts and culture provides ample opportunity to do just that. Living in a hotbed for such activity, it seems entirely appropriate that the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has teamed up with the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.

The organizations are co-presenting Arts and Community Development: Dynamic Partners, a workshop and panel discussion set for Thursday, Sept. 8 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Asian Arts Initiative (1219 Vine St., Philadelphia). The program will include opportunities to learn about best practices of community development organizations, artists and cultural groups working collaboratively to advance revitalization strategies, locate space, and develop community programs. Special attention will be paid to partnership building, new funding sources, and smart use of data.

Guests include Maggie Mailer, co-founder of the Pittsfield Storefront Artist Project, a nationally recognized model that uses arts as an economic catalyst in a distressed area of Western Massachusetts. The loss of 10,000 General Electric jobs there has had a major impact on the Pittsfield area's economy, population and morale. Now a weekly summer street festival attracts 10,000 people downtown on a regular basis as Pittsfield has become "the Brooklyn of the Berkshires."

Register here. Cost is $15 for PACDC and Cultural Alliance members, $10 for each additional staff person, and $25 for non-members.

Source: Pamela Bridgeforth, Pennsylvania Association of Community Development Corporations
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Name this place: Your chance to help shape public space outside 30th St. Station

Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is the second busiest train station in the country, but you wouldn't know it by the sparse pedestrian traffic on adjacent Market Street, a spot surrounded by two historic buildings and within 1,200 feet of more than 16,000 jobs. While a steady stream of cars zip in and around 30th Street Station, there is little to recommend hoofing it anywhere but to a friend's idling car.

That is poised to change with the transformation of the station’s outer parking lane along Market Street into a 40-foot wide sidewalk. The project, expected to be completed by Labor Day and a collaboration of Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, the Planning Commission, the Streets Department, Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, and a host of University City institutions, is part of a broader PennDot initiative.

The University City District also sees this project as a foundation for the creation of an inviting and animated public space, one that would provide amenities like abundant and comfortable seating, sun and shade, and trees and plantings. In the spirit of public placemaking, UCD is holding a contest to name Philadelphia’s newest public space. The winner gets a $500 gift certificate to Amtrak and pretty rare bragging rights.

To enter, submit your suggested name, reasons for choosing it (up to 150 words), your name, phone number and email to [email protected] by midnight on Sept. 30. A winner will be chosen by a 10-person jury that has yet to be selected. Winner will be announced on or around Oct. 19.

If you’re looking for hints – UCD's work on this space will be informed largely by the Project for Public Spaces’ "lighter, quicker, cheaper" placemaking interventions. According to a news release issued by UCD, a future phase of development that would include food kiosks, plantings and a permanent buffer from Market Street is likely. First, however, movable tables and chairs and seasonal plantings will set the stage. Also envisioned are activities that will draw people to the space, like yoga classes or music performances.

Source: Lori Klein Brennan, University City District
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Community building through OcTrolleyFest helps lift Darby and its rich transportation legacy

A small borough in Delaware County is looking to celebrate its heritage in the upcoming 7th annual OcTrolleyFest. OcTrolleyFest is a unique fete of Darby Borough's rich history, which examines transportation, desegregation, and Darby's relationship with surrounding boroughs and Southwest Philadelphia.

OcTrolleyFest is the pride and joy of husband and wife John and Jan Haigis, who are widely known for their love of singing, history, and Darby Borough. These passions helped to inspire OcTrolleyFest, which "brings more attention to history and brings people together," John Haigis points out. His wife gushed "people can reconnect with Darby and people who've moved away can see there's still stuff going on in Darby."

The festival's calling card is the use of an old fashioned trolley, which provides free rides between Darby and Southwest Philadelphia the day of the festival. The rides act as rolling history lessons, as docents aboard the trolleys discuss the many historic buildings en route. Some participants, naturally including the Haigis duo, also impersonate historical figures important to Darby.

OcTrolleyFest is remarkable for Darby, since the low-income, high-crime borough is not used to festivals. The borough has been widely known for its crime, political bickering, and severe flooding for decades. Haigis' festival gives residents a chance to forget about all this for at least a day, and as the pair would eagerly say, hopefully instills a sense of civic and historical pride in borough denizens.

John and Jan Haigis have a lot of heartwarming memories from previous celebrations. John's favorite memories are punctuated by the time rock-and-roll chart-topper Charlie Gracie performed. As for Jan, she relishes the "150th anniversary of the horse-car line (now the Route 11 trolley) from Philadelphia to Delaware County" in 2008. She also fondly reflects on last year's event, which honored the century anniversary of the formation of the Darby Hilldales, which was a wildly success Negro League baseball team.

As for this year's OcTrolleyFest, scheduled for October 15, there are still some question marks as to what the Haigis couple will do. "There will be scarecrows for kids and a pumpkin parade," says Jan Haigis. However, the trolley route is still to be determined, especially since SEPTA is doing construction on the preferred route between Darby, Yeadon, and Southwest Philadelphia. John and Jan definitely want to reach out to local cemeteries in Collingdale and Southwest Philadelphia to recognize the work of African American visionaries who are buried there. With these uncertainties in mind, John Haigis promises there will be "music, fun, and surprises."  

Sources: John and Jan Haigis
Writer: Andy Sharpe

Philly's long-proposed park in the sky, Reading Viaduct, gains traction with design study

The design firm Bryan Hanes Studio has begun to embark on a study that could make a long-supported but perpetually stalled Philadelphia project move forward. This study is examining how to design a park on the abandoned railroad tracks up high on the Reading Viaduct in the city's Callowhill neighborhood.

Specifically, the design study concerns the SEPTA-owned portion of the tracks. This is actually just a spur of the viaduct, as the rest is owned by the Reading Company, which has left the rail business and now dabbles in film in California.

The group that has perhaps been the most vocal in support of developing a park is the Callowhill Reading Viaduct Neighborhood Improvement District (CRVNID), which is effusive in its praise of a park. "A park would make the neighborhood more livable," points out John Struble, a cofounder of the Reading Viaduct project with CRVNID. "There is no green space and no park in our neighborhood, (so with this) people can enjoy the outdoors."

This design study is the second phase of examination for the proposed Reading Viaduct park. A year ago, an environmental impact study gave a favorable review to the idea of a park. According to Struble, the design study, which is financed by the William Penn Foundation, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Struble, who calls himself a "neighborhood advocate" eagerly pinpoints other cities like New York (the High Line in Manhattan's Lower West Side) that have succeeded with similar parks. "This caught on in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Atlanta."

The one shortfall of the Reading Viaduct park proposal is that funding sources have not currently been confirmed. Struble did make sure to add that Poor Richards Charitable Trust might provide some capital. Despite the financial question mark, it looks like Philadelphians might be looking up in the sky for their newest park.

Source: John Struble, CRVNID
Writer: Andy Sharpe

Germantown Regional Rail station finally treated to historic preservation

Thanks to the enthusiasm and financial support of West Central Germantown residents, commuters using the Tulpehocken Station can now feel the decades fly backwards as they wait for their train. That's because SEPTA finished the historical renovation of Tulpehocken Station, on the Chestnut Hill West Regional Rail line this summer.

With this in mind, it was not an easy process. From 1978 until recent years, SEPTA constantly told community groups that there was not enough money to repair the station. "From 1978 and on, the building was basically abandoned," says Jeffrey Smith, a man on a mission to preserve Germantown's history. In 1982, SEPTA even tried to demolish the building, although neighbors succeeded in thwarting that.

However, things began to look up in 2007, when the West Central Germantown Neighbors established a committee to salvage the building. This spurred the National Trust for Historical Preservation to come up with a grant to rehabilitate the station. The problem was the grant required a local match. However, "I raised $5,500 from neighbors and apartment owners," says a very proud Smith.

The final step that put the wheels to the rail of the Tulpehocken preservation was SEPTA's federal stimulus funds, of which SEPTA allocated $700,000 to the dated station. This enabled SEPTA to install 2 heavy-duty plywood floors using 60 percent of the structure's existing lumber, according to Smith. In addition, the station received a brand new roof. At this point, "the building was restored to historic standards," boasted Smith, who cited the station shell's approval by the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

With this long fought preservation, Smith is not quite satisfied. After all, it is hard for the man who bought the rights to Germantown's famed historic logo to rest on his laurels. "I'm trying to get a lease from SEPTA to make the building commercially viable," said Smith. Smith hastened to add that SEPTA has been a supportive partner throughout the recent process, pointing out the meetings he had with top SEPTA officials.   

Jeff Smith
Writer: Andy Sharpe

Philly's not casino-free, but Casino-Free is still very much alive in Philly

Casino-Free Philadelphia is planning to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Sugarhouse Casino in September with a new anti-gambling campaign. This campaign will focus on the amount of SugarHouse patrons who have taken out a line of credit to support their gambling.

"500 people have taken out a line of credit at SugarHouse," complained Kaytee Riek, the director of Casino-Free Philadelphia, an anti-casino group in Philadelphia that formed in 2006. Riek dramatizes her point by saying that the minimum line of credit is $500, which is quite a sum of money for many Philadelphians.

Casino-Free Philly is calling their campaign "quicksand credit," which is an analogy to how rapidly money can disappear when its gambled. "Quicksand credit drives people to addiction," said Riek. Riek is especially concerned about the affects of gambling on low-income players. "Preying on poor people is not a way to get customers."

This is simply the latest campaign held by the anti-gambling group. In 2010, Casino-Free orchestrated a "reclaim the riverfront" campaign, which focused on safety and jobs. One hallmark of this campaign was the formation of a casino town watch to document SugarHouse's tactics to attract patrons. Before SugarHouse opened, the advocacy group concentrated on convincing investors and elected officials to reject the proposed SugarHouse and Foxwoods casinos.   

The campaign is slated to be unveiled on September 23, which is one year after the opening of SugarHouse. With so many potential low-income Philadelphia gamblers living near SugarHouse, this promises to be an interesting campaign.

Source: Kaytee Riek, Casino-Free Philadelphia
Writer: Andy Sharpe    

Art in the Air set to return to Center City skyline

In a few weeks, PECO and the art technology outlet Breadboard will once again collaborate to brighten the Center City skyline. This year, PECO will showcase up to three works of visual artistry each Friday from September through December as scrolling artwork atop its building, says Ben Armstrong, Senior Communications Specialist at PECO. This is known as "Art in the Air," and this is the second year it's been done.

What is even more exciting is that PECO and Breadboard have upped the ante this year by putting in a cash incentive for visual artists. In addition to having their message displayed on PECO's building, artists will now be competing to win $1,000 for the "best in show" message, says Armstrong. The winning artist will also have their display featured for a prolonged period in January. Submissions for September are due by Aug. 23 (more submission info here).

PECO and Breadboard are looking to build off of their success last year with "Art in the Air." Last year's visual feast began on July 4 to commemorate the 34-year anniversary of PECO's scrolling messages, the one-year anniversary of PECO's adoption of LED lights, and Independence Day. From then on, the display ran on Fridays through out the year, ultimately featuring "over twenty local artists," said Armstrong.

PECO's LED lights enable the electricity provider to provide this visual art show. "The old lights limited us to 72 characters; letters, numbers, and spaces," said PECO's Communications Specialist. "LED lights let us use full animation and colors." Indeed, the PECO building has become quite colorful and animated in the two years since it switched to LED lights.

PECO has provided the top of its building at 23rd and Market Streets as a place for local non-profits and community groups to spread their message since 1976. Along with that, PECO also uses its scrolling marquee to provide energy-saving tips for customers and tourists alike.  

Source: Ben Armstrong, PECO
Writer: Andy Sharpe

Fairmount Art Center expands to Queen Village location

Good news for aspiring artists in South Philadelphia and Center City, as Queen Village is about to usher in a new art center. The Fairmount Art Center will be opening up a second location in September, calling it the Queen Village Art Center. It will be in the old Philadelphia Aids Thrift Store location on the 500 block of Bainbridge St.

"Courses include diverse media, including drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, knitting, sewing, ceramics, mixed media, and decorative arts," says director Jill Markovitz. The new center will include 3,000 square feet of space, four studios, a kitchenette, and lounge and gallery areas.

"Queen Village will also feature a full after school program with walking pick up at all area schools," says Markovitz. Children will be able to come to the center for anywhere from one to five days a week. Along with art, children can also receive homework help and reading and game time.

This is welcome news for students at local schools, such as the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Academy at Palumbo. Markovitz sees the incoming Queen Village Art Center as a great place for children. She envisions a place where kids can come for school art, camp, and birthday parties.

Source: Jill Markovitz, Fairmount Art Center
Writer: Andy Sharpe 

Meet the parklet, Philly's newest public space effort

It's a park that fits in a pickup truck. Philadelphia's newest public space initiative, The Parklet, made its debut on Aug. 4 in University City. Flanking the sidewalk on 43rd Street at Baltimore Avenue, the 40-foot long decked platform functions as a highly flexible seating area that takes the place of about three parked cars. The seasonal structure, made of Trex, steel and wood, can be disassembled into its 4'x6' component parts and loaded into the back of a University City District truck.

"West Philadelphia in general is open to innovation and new ideas," remarked State Representative James Roebuck, on hand for the dedication. The Parklet experiment is slated to continue, with three more planned in spaces to be determined. According to designer Jules Dingle of the Center City firm DIGSAU, the next one will be on Lancaster Avenue, but the others have not yet been sited.

The intersection of 43rd and Baltimore is heavy with pedestrian traffic, thanks to Clark Park. The popular Green Line Cafe, with its own outdoor seating, is at the same southeast corner as the Parklet, and  the new seating appears to be an extension of the cafe, but officials were quick to point out that the Parklet is open to the public. "It really is a front porch in many ways," said Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler. The design quotes elements of the new Race Street Pier, added Prema Katari Gupta, UCD Director of Planning and Economic Development. The Parklet idea originated in San Francisco and New York, and UCD put a Philadelphia spin on an imported idea, according to Gupta.

At a cost of $10,000 in materials and a design fee that adds about 10 percent to the total, the Parklet is a quick and easy way to create convivial space. Designer Dingle explained that while the configuration of the present parklet is meant for cafe tables and chairs, potential add-ons include bike racks and fixed tables and benches, which may figure in to future versions.

Source: James Roebuck, Rina Cutler, Prema Katari Gupta, Jules Dingle, UC Parklet
Writer: Sue Spolan

PHOTOS by Ryan Collerd

Transforming Philly's waterfront, one public comment at a time

Consider it crowdsourced city planning. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation's Master Plan is open for public comment until August 26. Since June 13, when the summary report was released, Master Planning Manager Sarah Thorpe says about a hundred comments have come in, and the entire effort has been a significant public process. "Urban planning has changed a lot over last 30 years," says Thorpe. "Today, people are very interested in how the environment develops. We are addressing different problems and a different demographic."

Essential to the new master plan is access. It's not your 18th century waterfront model. When I-95 was built, the Philadelphia stretch of the Delaware river was an aesthetically bereft industrial zone best left to longshoremen. Interstate 95 is a huge barrier, says Thorpe of the 1960s era public works project that was once considered a beneficial rampart. "People didn't want to live next to a sugar factory or a coal yard." Now, she says, the highway keeps residents from what they want. The main point of the DRWC's master plan is to make 95 less of an impedance.

Philadelphia 2035, the citywide planning effort, is underway, but Thorpe says the waterfront couldn't wait. While there are actually 47 streets that cross over or under the interstate, "it's more of a perceived barrier in peoples' minds."

The new plan creates connections in two ways, says Thorpe: by adding destinations to  the riverbank, and by making connections more attractive through lighting and landscaping. Several early action projects, the Race Street Pier and Washington Avenue Green, were completed during the Master Plan design phase as a way to give the public a glimpse of the future.

As far as feedback, Thorpe says comments have ranged from overarching issues like density, boat access and parking, to small problems like typos in the document. After the August 26 deadline, Thorpe and team will compile public input, make judgement calls on priority, and expect to release the final revised version in October. But, stresses Thorpe, it will be a living document, subject to accommodation and change.

Source: Sarah Thorpe, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation
Writer: Sue Spolan

Nest looks to nurture young families' thirst for activity, fun and learning

Not long ago, six close friends read in the Philadelphia Business Journal that the number of people raising kids in the city had absolutely exploded over the past ten years. It was certainly a good bit of news to discover, especially considering the friends' new business idea: A 12,000-square-foot Center City destination known as Nest, where children and their parents can play, learn, exercise and grow both intellectually and creatively.

Philly's young families, of course, are the ones who'll ultimately be deciding if the new space is a necessary city addition. The first test will happen on Aug. 11, when Nest--something of an ultimate jungle gym, playground and fun zone for the 6-weeks to 6-years set--opens its doors to the public at 13th and Locust streets in Midtown Village.

According to Stephanie Edwards of Skai Blue Media, which is handling Nest's PR, the six friends behind the venture had grown "tired of schlepping their kids all over the city to attend a music class here, a mommy and me class there and a birthday party yet somewhere else." They figured that combining the best of various kid-friendly locations into one massive fun-and-education zone would be a can't-miss proposition.

Nest, for instance, will offer a bevy of classes: early enrichment, dance, pottery, art, cooking, and more, all led by area experts. A cafe for the grown-ups, along with a portrait studio and a children's salon, will also be onsite, as will as a 3,000-square-foot play space for the younger children, and a toy and clothing boutique selling unique, design-friendly items.

And given that one of Nest's founders is Scott Caplan, a co-founder of Sweat Fitness, visitors to Nest can probably also expect lots of color, lots of positive attitudes, and most likely lots and lots of crowds.

Class enrollment begins Aug. 9.

Source: Stephanie Edwards, Skai Blue Media
Writer: Dan Eldridge

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighborhood? Please send your Development News tips here.

A taste of heaven for Kelly Drive's bikers, joggers and boaters

How perfect is a summer night at a cafe on the bank of the river? "It's a dream come true," says Peg Botto of her newly opened Cosmic Cafe at Lloyd Hall. Located at the beginning of Kelly Drive just across from the Azalea Garden, Cosmic Cafe opened this spring, thanks to a collaborative effort by Botto and Fairmount Park, and it's set to continue operation year round.

"There's always been a cafe at Lloyd Hall," explains Mark Focht, Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Commission. "Peg Botto's sustainable approach to business meshed very well with the Parks and Recreation mission." Botto, whose previous retail outlet was at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, also runs Cosmic Catering. With the fully outfitted new kitchen at Lloyd Hall, Botto can run both the cafe and catering operation on site. Botto saw right away that the space would be great for catering, with lower and upper outdoor decks, plus an upstairs room. In all, Cosmic Cafe can hold up to 250 people for private events.

Open seven days a week from 8 to 8, Cosmic Cafe offers the kind of healthy food athletes crave, including organic produce, eggs and poultry, nitrate free bacon and locally baked bread. On a recent visit, smoothies, watermelon gazpacho, baked goods and a full range of sandwiches were on the menu. Several nights a week, there's live music, and Botto also barbecues several times a month out on the deck. "It's right on the river. You can't get any closer than that."

Botto says that she worked on the Lloyd Hall RFP for about 4 months, and she won the contract from a pool of ten applicants. After an $85,000 kitchen makeover and the hiring of about a dozen staffers, business is good. "We pay rent to the city plus a percentage of the gross," says Botto, who adds that these costs are in line with what she would pay for a similar space elsewhere. But nowhere else offers a constant stream of bikers, walkers, joggers, rollerbladers and tourists, whose stars are cosmically aligned for an alternative to the hot dog and ice cream carts of Kelly Drive.

Source: Peg Botto, Cosmic Cafe
Writer: Sue Spolan

Senior living options sprout in Italian Market, Wynnefield

For quite some time now, the priest of St. Maron's Roman Catholic Church, which sits on the corner of 10th and Ellsworth streets in South Philly, has had something of a vision--a dream, you might say--relating to the living conditions of his parishioners, more than a few of whom are senior citizens in their 50s and 60s.

"They're presently living in the community," says Bruce Morgan, the president of Paoli's BCM Affordable Housing, "and for a number of different reasons, they don't want to continue living in a house they own or rent, or living with family members. They need a living arrangement that's more conducive to someone who is 55 and older. They're also typically on fixed incomes, and in a lot of ways are getting priced out of a gentrifying neighborhood."

Morgan, as it happens, runs the real estate development firm that was given the green light to construct the solution to South Philly's seniors: Along with the Haley Donovan design-architect firm and the architecture and interior design firm known as Kitchen & Associates, Morgan's company will be building a roughly 71,000 square-foot building for seniors on the 900 block of Ellsworth Street, on the current site of an under-utilized municipal parking lot.

Along with 64 units, a community room, two outdoor patios, a green roof and Energy Star appliances, the L-shaped structure will be constructed according to LEED certification standards. (Due to high costs, however, Morgan doesn't plan to actually apply for the certification itself.) Construction should start sometime near the end of the year, or the beginning of 2012.

Meanwhile, in West Philadelphia's Wynnefield neighborhood, the New Jersey-based Tryko Partners firm has spent $8 million acquiring the Kearsley Nursing Community campus, which has been recognized as the first nursing community in the county, according to Uri Kahanow, Tryko's director of acquisitions (skilled nursing with private and semi-private rooms available).

The three-building campus overlooks the Bala Golf Course and includes a historic property built in 1861. Still, says Kahanow, "We're definitely going to focus a lot on upgrading the services in the nursing facility. We're definitely going to expand on what they have now."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Bruce Morgan, BCM Affordable Housing Inc. & Uri Kahanow, Tryko Partners

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighborhood? Please send your Development News tips here.

MM Partners' new blog looks to lift Brewerytown

You can't argue with this one: Real estate agents have it tough these days. Buyers do too, of course. But when your very livelihood is dependent upon the whims of a mortgage broker and the all-around insecurity of banks these days, making an honest buck isn't easy.

Consider, as an example, the precarious situation of MM Partners, a small real estate development firm whose business involves the construction, the design, and the sale of modern apartments in Brewerytown, of all places.

"Something we talk about a lot," says Jacob Roller, MM Partners' co-founder, "is that the neighborhood needs more exposure, and in a positive way. People may not know about Brewerytown, or they may have just heard its name in a negative way, and that's not really the case. But perception is reality. So you have to work on that."

And work on that he did. Along with his partner, David Waxman, Roller came up with the idea for BrewerytownLiving.com, a well-designed blog that advertises the free cultural events that Roller and his co-workers are organizing in Brewerytown. Recent events have included a Doggie Yappy Hour, during which dogs and their humans meet in a park for socialization and snacks. There are also jazz concerts, clothing swaps, art shows, and food festivals.

"We'd been doing a little bit of this on our own," says Roller. "So we said, 'Let's do it in a more comprehensive way, and in a more organized way.' And that led us to Brewerytown Living."

Roller, by the way, is insistent that Brewerytown Living isn't a mere marketing ploy. "We don't want to use (the website) to try and sell people a house," he adds. 'It's really all about community building, you know? Getting people together, and having a good time."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Jacob Roller, MM Partners LLC

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Drexel University expands, and the local community plays an important role

There's certainly nothing new or unusual about major universities that seem to insatiably gobble up various plots of real estate surrounding their respective campuses. And while it may appear that Drexel, the country's 14th-largest private university, is no different, the reality of the school's most recent real estate acquisition may come as a surprise. That's because Drexel's latest $21.8 million land purchase--a 3.6 acre former public parking lot that sits just east of the school--promises to take the campus in a whole new direction, quite literally.

The thin but long track of land--sandwiched between JFK Boulevard to the south, and the 30th Street Station train tracks to the north--was purchased by the university with the intention of creating a new eastern gateway-style entrance to the Drexel campus, says Bob Francis, Drexel's head of university facilities.

The purchase certainly reflects Drexel's current mission of continuing to grow and expand. But as Francis explains, the strategic purchase was actually much more community-minded than it might have at first appeared.

"When (a school) grows," Francis says, "you don't just grow academics. And it turns out that the direction Drexel has traditionally gone, which is to the north, pressing up against the Powelton Village and Mantua communities, is probably not the way to go in the future, because we've put a lot of stress on those neighborhoods."

It was with exactly that sort of community-focused attitude in mind that the eastward-facing lot was purchased. And what's more, Drexel intends to rely heavily on community input during the year-long planning phase for the new eastern campus entrance.

The school's current plans for the land include developing a number of residential, retail, and mixed use spaces. "We plan to consult with all the partners who have an interest in this," adds Francis, and bring them and the community along with us."

Source: Bob Francis, Drexel University
Writer: Dan Eldridge

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighborhood? Please send your Development News tips here.
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