Last summer, there was talk of turning the Dirt Lot into a state-of-the-art science building, complete with dry labs. But as time went on, it became clear to university planners that perhaps the Dirt Lot in all its axel-breaking, car-blocking glory is here to stay, at least for a while.
“Temple does not own the lot,” said Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications.
Multiple individuals own the lot, Betzner said, and as far as a new science building goes, the plans are in the “concept phase.”
Possible Dirt Lot renovation never made it to the Zoning Board. It is merely a part of Temple’s larger plan to improve its campus.
Temple 20/20 is a framework plan for campus development, which was approved by the Board of Trustees May 12.
The plan takes a holistic look at Temple’s property “footprint,” taking into account square footage of facilities, housing and academic buildings before deciding where improvement is needed next. This ensures the whole campus will be looked at, rather than small, spaced-out projects.
Because it can be implemented in rational phases as funding is available, the plan is flexible. This way if Temple would be offered a donation by a wealthy alumnus for a new library, Temple will not have to refuse the support because it has already committed funding to another project, e.g. the Dirt Lot.
Betzner said the Dirt Lot renovation was one of several ideas discussed during a June 17 City Planning Commission meeting. One of the ideas most likely to be seen soon is to have a student housing expansion, he said.
In accordance with the 20/20 plan, Temple wants to improve its most valuable piece of property, Broad Street. Improvements to Broad Street will likely include a new library, a signature building and more shopping and dining areas. Parking features will be expanded vertically with multi-level parking garages, instead of taking up valuable property space.
Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Anthony Wagner said what the Temple community can expect to see this year are much-needed renovations to Pearson and McGonigle Halls and the razing of the University Services building, slated to begin this academic year.
Another sure renovation, which Boyer students in particular can to look forward to, is the transformation of the Baptist Temple into a 36,000 square-foot “theater-in-the-round-style” concert hall, which will be home to Temple’s orchestra and choir.
Pearson and McGonigle halls will be given facelifts and additions, adding one playing field, possibly a library and 82,000 square feet for recreation and dining.
The Board of Trustees has approved the design for Pearson and McGonigle and Temple is currently looking for an architect.
Kali Wyrosdic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.