The southwest corner of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue will soon be home to a new apartment complex, movie theater, restaurant and a number of shops. The project, developed by Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments, is expected to break ground this year and will open in either late fall 2005 or early winter 2006
Blatstein’s plans call for two buildings on the site, one for the 800-bed apartment complex and the other for the theater, restaurant and stores.
Blatstein will not know for another four to five months what venues will be setting up shop at the corner, but he says it could be a variety of commercial real estate.
“The apartment building will be for Temple students and the other various services are for the North Philadelphia community,” Blatstein said. Rental prices, he said, will be determined by the market.
The apartment complex will house dorm-style rooms with a variety of amenities and facilities, although Blatstein would not comment on the specifics. “It’s going to be cutting edge,” he said. “Temple students are going to live better than Penn [students].”
Blatstein, a 1976 graduate of Temple, is well known in Philadelphia for spearheading the city’s Delaware riverfront development and his recent work in Northern Liberties. This is Tower Investments’ first project near Temple University. The estimated cost of the development is $55 million, making it the largest private venture in North Philadelphia’s history.
Although Temple is not involved with funding the complex, President David Adamany said the University and Blatstein are sharing information on the develop ment. He also noted that the University approves of and is endorsing the complex.
“It will have a positive effect of transforming a span of two city blocks into a developed area that people will be pleased to go to,” Adamany said. “It’s a further strengthening of this area and this neighborhood.”
There has been an influx of developers into North Philadelphia recently, creating a rebirth of social, cultural and economic development.
Blatstein is not the only one to take advantage of the boom around Temple’s campus – other developments include the new Community Education Center and the completed University Village and Oxford Arms.
Phyllis Karetny, a New Jersey resident who has been a manager of the Draught Horse for more than a year, says the restaurant and bar, located on 1431 Cecil B. Moore Ave., isn’t worried about the competition the planned development may create.
“I think we will definitely benefit from the construction workers being there,” she said, noting how construction workers at the Oxford complex frequented the Draught Horse often during the build.
But other residents of the community are not convinced the project is meant to benefit the North Philadelphia community. China Brown, a woman from the 1400 block of Jefferson Street, believes the University is pushing long-term residents out of the neighborhood.
“What about the other people who want housing in this area?” she asked. “I see signs all over that say, ‘For Rent: Temple students only.'”
Ruth L. Goolsby has lived in the community for 40 years near the corner of 15th and Oxford streets. “I don’t know about how [the development] will affect the community,” she said, “but maybe that movie theater will bring the life back to the neighborhood.”
The empty lot that will soon be home to Tower Investments’ project was formerly known as Jump Street USA, a development undertaking intended to revitalize the North Broad Street corridor, but one that ultimately failed. The site got its name from the abundance of after-hours jazz clubs and entertainment houses lining what was once called Columbia Avenue (now Cecil B. Moore Avenue).
Barbara J. Isenberg can be reached at email@example.com.