In the last five years, developers near Temple University’s main campus have taken a huge vacant lot and rundown shopping center and created a retail presence and student housing that has revitalized North Broad Street — and they’re not done yet.
Construction is underway for a new 1,500-bed residence hall at North Broad and Cecil B. Moore Avenue that will feature a dining facility and first-floor retail, which is expected to be complete in fall 2012. The project will create about 100 jobs and possibly include a restaurant.
“[Neighbors] want us to bring that kind of economic activity to North Philadelphia in our own projects by making it part of our projects,” said Anthony Wagner, Temple’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Since 2000, the number of Temple students living in or around campus has more than tripled from about 4,000 students, fueling much of that transformation. The growth has led to some well-documented problems with neighbors, who have complained about parking and students crowding into single-family homes. Neighbors, however, are in favor of the newest development.
“It’s not an incursion into the community,” Pam Middletown-Smith of the Yorktown Community Association said.
And like The Avenue North shopping complex and movie theater, and Fresh Grocer, community residents who qualify will be given preference for the 100 jobs created by the new dorm.
“There’s going to be a lot of support jobs for that residence hall and we anticipate that all of those employees will come from that community,” said Councilman Darrell Clarke.
Parking still a challenge
Temple expects to build a 1,000-space parking garage at 11th and Montgomery to address neighbors’ concerns over parking, but some are skeptical that it will solve the problems.
“The most challenging part of that is to ensure the students use the parking,” Councilman Darrell Clarke said. “You can build as many spots in the garage, but if a student decides to park in the community as opposed to pay $5 it won’t matter.”