Maybe they go in to buy a $50 mock turtleneck or maybe they pass it by in favor of the new 7-11 for one of those new Mountain Dew Slurpees.
Or, it’s possible, that the idea of sweet, possibly sperm damaging soda, doesn’t do it for these particular students so they go into the combined ice cream shop/doughnut shop/sandwich shop for something, with so much to chose from it really doesn’t matter.
Reality: North Philadelphia residents strolling through the dilapidated Progress Plaza stopping in run down stores or kids playing in front of the abandoned supermarket.
Yes, some Temple students go there- some like the Popeye’s Chicken joint, but it is left alone as an eyesore of possible, future development.
Back in the soon-to-be realized imaginary world of Park Mall, construction crews work against the clock to re-build houses into food and retail establishments for students to use, what about the community?
The Draught Horse has provided jobs for North Philly residents and the 21-Jump Street Entertainment Complex may one day come to fruition. But does the progress on Park Mall help anyone except Temple students and do any of them care?
Temple’s campus is like a fortress inside the community of North Philadelphia. There are no walls or physical barriers, but for the most part, students come in and stay in until the end of their school day. Then they either escape Temple or go to their dorms just outside of the fortress.
A good deal of the North Philly residents we see on campus are of the homeless variety. The one’s that have broken the invisible walls and come to beg for food or money.
They come to Temple because of its shining light, its aura of prosperity. But when the stores open at Park Mall will people navigate the bright lights of the barriers to shop there. Or will the stores only be marketed to students for their use and their use only.
Residents will stay out of the 7-11’s opting instead for the Quick Shops and run-down convenience and beer stores. (Not that 7-11’s are the cleanest or nicest convenience stores- see WaWa).
And instead of the Gap, and its $50 mock-turtleneck, people will stay south of Temple and use the rundown Progress Plaza, a scene of no progress in recent memory.
When this happens, where’s the help for the community in Park Mall restoration. Or is the only community that matters the student one?
Progress Plaza is expecting a re-birth, it could come any day now, we’re not really sure. A supermarket was supposed to be in place by May, but the building that used to house a Superfresh is still empty and shows no signs of improving from its current dilapidated form.
The Plaza is hoping for a facelift sometime soon, which takes money and demand from major corporations and chains. With Park Mall’s rebirth, Progress Plaza is kept as an embryo.
But hey, as long as we have Slurpees, mock-turtlenecks and ice cream/doughnuts/sandwiches, who cares?