Space for food and retail vendors will be included in Temple’s 20/20 plan.
As construction and development continues for Temple’s 20/20 plan, university officials are looking for potential prospects to fill the spaces assigned for retail businesses.
“We’d like to drive an economic growth that’s good for students and our neighbors,” said Anthony Wagner, the executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer of the university said.
“The notion of mixing the different retails in the different buildings creates a dynamic work environment,” said Deborah Howe, a professor in the department of Community and Regional Planning. “If you create a mix of uses with the different retails, you have different people using them for different reasons, which helps bring in revenue.”
Pearson and McGonigle halls, which are currently under renovation, will have a reserved 5,000 square feet of space in what will be an atrium. Wagner said a clothing store selling Temple paraphernalia and a juice bar are two ideas for retail businesses inside the atrium.
The South Gateway project, on Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, may have a Reading Terminal Market style of food vendors, Wagner said.
“We’re really interested in working with our neighbors to do franchising for at least five minority vendors,” Wagner said. “It’s something that would be good for the community because it’s a great business opportunity that we’re presenting.”
Different companies and food vendors will be able to occupy, rent and self-operate their respective spaces, Wagner added.
“It’s really nice to see that Temple is updating and renovating [its] buildings,” said Nate Rosen, a sophomore marketing major. “The meal plans here are expensive. I would definitely eat at the different food vendors if they were in a Reading Terminal Market style and reasonably priced.”
Wagner said that on the Cecil B. Moore Avenue side of the building, the university hopes to host a four- or five-star restaurant with the 5,000 square feet of space they’ll be saving for retail use.
“What we believe we certainly have the capacity for at Temple now is something fairly nice,” Wagner said. “We have a lot of fast-food places around campus and university dining but not many nice restaurants [within] walking distance. Philadelphia has such a great food culture. We could really have a nice place for students and the community to use.”
“I’ve always wanted to take a girl out to a nice restaurant,” Rosen said. “It’d be nice to not have to go all the way into Center City if we had one right here.”
Wagner said another spot that may house retail spaces will be the Dirt Lot, which is currently owned by Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia. Wagner said he predicts Temple will gain ownership of the land this spring.
He said the university would like to create a parking garage with more than 1,000 spaces for students.
Wagner said that after talking with some community members, their biggest worry seemed to be parking availability and student housing.
On the ground floor of the parking garage, two retail spaces will be developed, Wagner added.
Ten-thousand square feet of space has been reserved to add shops on Montgomery Avenue and 11th Street, as well as on Berks and 11th streets.
“The new techniques and designs they’re doing will definitely help make the campus a lot more attractive,” said Taylor Tingle, a sophomore psychology major. “I wish they would’ve thought of these types of things beforehand though, so I could benefit from them too.”
“I visited Portland State University, and they embraced a dynamic urban university district, which is what we’re hoping to do with the 20/20 plan,” Howe said. “Adding retail and commercial use to the university is a prime way in creating a revenue stream. This is a step in the right direction for the university.”
“For this setting to work, the different spaces need to be placed in a premier location where people can see and use it to their advantages,” Howe said. “Temple’s biggest obstacle is going to be in the summertime when the flow of students isn’t as large as in the spring and fall.”
Howe said he thinks Temple should create some sort of summer program that might attract more of its students in the summer, which would help keep retail and commercial spaces financially stable.
“I would be interested in having a market style of vendors,” Tanaya Brooks, a mother and local resident of the surrounding Temple community said. “If it’s like the Reading Terminal Market, then it would be nice to have that here instead of traveling into Center City all the time.”
Brooks also said she would also utilize a nice restaurant.
“It’d be nice to have something right in the neighborhood instead of traveling everywhere to get to things,” Brooks said. “They’re doing nice things here for the community.”
Marc Gondek, the manager of the Jimmy John’s beneath the Edge, said he thinks business is increasing during the summer every year.
“But, I think until more students stay around more during the summer, then we’re still going to be experiencing summer dulls,” Gondek said. “I don’t believe that the new retail and commercial spaces being added around Temple will really affect the business.”
“Much of my business comes from students. We don’t get much once the students leave in May, but I don’t see why they would stop coming to me even if there are new places,” said Jason Ko, the owner of Model Line in Progress Plaza.
Wagner said he predicts these new retail and commercial spaces will be opened at around the same time as the opening of their respective buildings.
Alyssa Saylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.