City Planning approves labor union training facility near Temple

The center will provide construction training to community residents, with the opportunity to access academic support from the university.

The City Planning Commission met to discuss the Laborers' District Council's union training center on Tuesday | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The City Planning Commission unanimously approved plans for a union training facility to be built near the corner of Broad and Master streets at its meeting on Tuesday.

The center, which will be owned by the Laborers’ District Council, will offer training to go into the construction field. Temple University will work in conjunction with the center to offer academic services in areas like math and reading, said Ryan Boyer, business manager for the union.

“We can start the community moving forward to participate in this big construction boom that we’re having in Philadelphia, and give them the skills and abilities to compete in that industry,” Boyer said after the vote.

Joseph Syrnick, vice chairman of the City Planning Commission, led the vote to grant Temple the ability to alter its master plan where the project’s zoning designations changed.

“We have been working diligently with the Laborers’ District Council to help bring their facility to fruition and are excited that the LDC, through collaboration with Temple, could make training opportunities available in North Philadelphia,” wrote a university spokesperson in an email to The Temple News.

The LDC held a formal community meeting about the project on Aug. 28. Residents shared concerns over communication issues with the union and the terms of public use of the building, Boyer said. The LDC plans to enter into a memorandum of understanding with some community residents to try and rectify concerns like these.

Syrnick invited the public to comment on the project several times during the meeting, but none came forward. 

The site is the home of the former William Penn High School which shuttered in 2010. The Temple Sports Complex is adjacent to the plot.

In July 2014, the William Penn Development Coalition filed an injunction to the state Supreme Court, which temporarily blocked the sale of the site to the university. The School District of Philadelphia finalized the sale of the site to the university and the union in September 2014.

Temple started the demolition of William Penn High School in 2015

The project will now move to the City Council Committee on Rules before it can be finalized. The Committee on Rules considers general matters, including motions from the City Planning Commission, to streamline City Council’s operations.

This hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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