Temple University says expansion won't crowd the city

Posted: December 08, 2010

Temple's ongoing construction will be substantial but will not push further into residential areas of North Philadelphia, university president Ann Weaver Hart said Tuesday.

Hart, in a meeting with the Inquirer Editorial Board, disclosed details of the $1.2 billion expansion of Temple's main campus, saying the size of the university's footprint in North Philadelphia will not increase.

As The Inquirer reported last year, Temple's expansion will develop the university's Broad Street corridor.

The project includes a 1,500-bed residence hall, a $48 million renovation of the Pearson and McGonigle Hall sports and fitness complex, a new architecture building, and a science education and research building.

"What we are working on is to bring more of our students into the urban center of our campus, which is Broad Street," Hart said.

Temple plans to fund the project from its budget, which includes state and federal aid. The construction will serve the university at its current size of 27,000 students, she said.

One key to the 10-year plan, dubbed Temple 20/20, is a $148 million residence hall and retail complex on the east side of Broad Street between Cecil B. Moore Avenue and Oxford Street.

Hart said the residence hall would complement the Avenue North apartment and retail complex and the View movie theater on the opposite side of Broad Street. Construction began this fall and is expected to be complete by fall 2012.

The complex is expected to create 110 jobs, most for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, Hart said.

Hart said a new parking deck would be built a few blocks east of Broad Street to ease parking problems along Broad Street. She did not specify where the deck would be or say how many spaces it would provide.

City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke said in an interview that despite the plan, parking in the area remained a concern.

Parking "continues to be a challenge in spite of the fact that community groups issued a letter of support," for the 20/20 plan, said Clarke, whose district includes the Temple campus. He said those groups "still don't feel comfortable with the parking strategy."

Clarke said a surge in private-market student housing in the neighborhoods west of Broad Street in recent years had raised tensions between students and long-term residents.

A $48 million renovation and expansion of the Pearson and McGonigle Halls on Broad at Montgomery will add 140,000 square feet to the existing 225,000 square feet. Construction started in May, and completion is set for fall 2011.

Hart said that in addition to expanded exercise space, classrooms, and offices, the halls would include, for the first time, practice facilities for the men's and women's basketball teams.

The complex will include a metal-and-glass front and an atrium designed to make it more inviting.

"The idea is that we want our neighbors, the community, and . . . everybody driving up and down Broad Street to feel this is a welcoming place and it provides more of a facility for our students," Hart said.

A short distance from Broad and Montgomery, a new library is planned for Broad Street across from the Temple Performing Arts Center. Hart did not say how much the library would cost or when it would be built.

On the interior of the campus, a $10 million architecture building is under construction at 13th and Diamond Streets. Hart said the 50,000-square-foot building would complete a mini-arts quad that includes the existing Tyler School of Art, the Boyer College of Music and Dance, and the theater department.

At 12th Street and Pollett Walk, the university plans a 250,0000-square-foot science education and research building. The $100 million project is to include labs, classrooms, and offices. No construction timetable has been set.

A one-block stretch of green space is planned along 13th Street. The 21/2-acre area - the largest green space on the campus - will result from demolition of a campus building, Hart said.

She said that the university had held town-hall meetings with neighborhood groups about the 20/20 plan and that the groups had issued letters in support.

"We met with leaders of our community council before we ever started the planning process," she said.

Hart said the plans would include hundreds of scholarships for residents of Temple's adjacent neighborhoods.

Clarke said he wanted to make sure the scholarships enabled residents to attend Temple, adding that some scholarships had gone unused in the past.

"There needs to be a strategy between Temple, the School District, and the community," Clarke said. "There needs to be a specific game plan to make sure students take advantage of those scholarships."

Clarke said he supported the 20/20 project, but "we've agreed that there will be ongoing conversations on their plans. At the end of the day, having a billion dollars' worth of construction in this economic climate in terms of the city is very good."


Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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