Build North Philly

Two weeks ago, I was really excited to read a column by Ivery Boston titled “How Temple can be a year-round destination spot” discussing the potential growth of Templetown. This is something that I have thought a great deal about as student body president, as well as someone who personally enjoys seeing economic growth and prosperity that benefits the entire community. 

North Philadelphia has become a prime location for the free market to do its work. With more students living on campus, more alumni returning to a campus that “is like night and day from what we had when we were here,” demand for businesses is high, but we need to do a better job to ensure that the demand we generate turns into an environment that is pro-growth.

As students, let’s embrace the small businesses we have around Temple. From grocery stores, dry cleaners, takeout restaurants of all kinds and the very nice and professional bars in our community, we have a solid foundation to begin to shape Templetown for what we want. Instead of heading into Center City or University City, invite your friends and family to Temple. If you know an alum, bring him or her back to campus.  Multiple new dining locations that have opened in heavily populated student areas this fall. They need our support and in return they will buy into being productive members of Templetown.

As we keep more of our own money in North Philadelphia, it will strengthen our position for some of the things that everyone living in North Philadelphia needs, like upgraded sidewalks, better street lighting and a more beautiful area overall. However, if our money leaves our own community and goes into Center City improvement districts and the University City District we are doing ourselves a great disservice.

Boston’s article mentions the University City District often. While I understand it’s impossible to recreate organizations such as the University City District, I feel it is time for Temple to look to anchor institutions, small business owners and pro-Temple residents to begin to build our own district. At the very least, this could be a way to properly advocate the benefits of being a North Philadelphia business owner.

Despite any failed attempts at similar initiatives in the past, this partnership is powerful for the entire community if Temple will continue to be a more 24/7 campus. Initial relationship strains  that initiatives like this may cause – like gentrification and increased construction – should be weathered for the benefit of the community long term.

Let’s all support what we have in our beautiful community. Shape it, don’t slight it. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and working with anyone interested in improving Templetown for everyone, both student and local resident.

Darin Bartholomew is Temple’s student body president. He can be reached at darin-j-bartholomew@temple.edu.

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