Movies, shopping, and restaurants will be literally across the street from Temple’s main campus if a proposed plan for the development of the southwest corner of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue materializes.
Downtown Works, the urban development division of Kravco Company, was awarded the right to develop the block in July. The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia owns the land, which currently stands empty.
The Redevelopment Authority selected Downtown Works’ plan for development over two other proposals.
The executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, Herbert Wetzel, said the proposals were all similar.
“The choice came down to design,” Wetzel said.
According to the director of Downtown Works, Margaret McCauley, the proposed plan is for a two story complex “anchored by restaurants and entertainment,” with an opening date of fall 2004.
The entertainment component will be provided in the form of a 12 14 screen movie theater on the second level of the building. McCauley said that Downtown Works has a letter of intent from the Johnson Development Corporation to construct and manage the movie theater. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the former Lakers star, is the CEO the Los Angeles based company.
Johnson Development is involved in numerous urban development projects, including movie theaters in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City. The company’s director of development, Kimberley Ingram, said that it was “still too early to discuss the project.”
Retail stores and several restaurants will occupy the bottom level of the finished project. McCauley said that the complex is intended to be “universal in its appeal” to both Temple students and the surrounding community.
No specific stores or restaurants have committed to the project so far because it is still in its initial stages, McCauley added.
Housing intended for use by the Temple community will also be included at the site, according to McCauley. Beech Interplex, a nonprofit firm with whom Downtown Works is currently discussing the terms of their partnership, will construct the housing.
Beech will also be leasing the land to Downtown Works. Although the Redevelopment Authority owns the land at the site, as well as various other parcels around the city, it is not actually involved in the development of sites.
“The Redevelopment Authority is a tool that the city can use” to aid in development projects around the city, Wetzel said. The Authority has the power of eminent domain, which allows it to “acquire land, clean up the site, and make it ready for development.”
Prior to the current project, a similar plan, Jump Street USA, was proposed for the site in 1998. Jump Street never broke ground, and the Redevelopment Authority took over the site. If the Downtown Works proposal meets the same fate, title to the land will return to the Redevelopment Authority, according to Wetzel.
The Authority is leasing the land to Beech for one dollar and the nonprofit must meet terms negotiated with the Authority. The money Beech earns from the lease must be used for further redevelopment in the surrounding community. According to Wetzel, Beech was awarded the lease because it is “the only strong non profit in the area.”
Beech will act as a partner with Downtown Works, according to Beech president Floyd Alston. He said the nonprofit has a “network in the area” that will help in marketing of the site.
Both McCauley and Alston said that the project would provide a boost to the local economy, providing jobs to the surrounding area. Alston said that Beech has a minority hiring program that will be used for hiring both contractors and employees.
McCauley, who witnessed the decline of the area around Temple while pursuing her Master’s degree at the school, said “I saw [the area] in the worst of times, we are going to bring it back to the best of times.”
Brian White can be reached at email@example.com