Construction for two fields and an athletic facility is still on schedule at Broad and Master streets, where William Penn High School used to stand.
The district closed the school in 2010 and Temple purchased the property for $15 million, originally valued at $32.5 million, in June 2014. The project, which was part of Visualize Temple—the university’s master landscaping plan—cost an estimated $22 million. Demolition of the building began in November 2015 and is scheduled to open in August.
The property is made up of six interconnected buildings, almost all of which have been demolished, said director of Architectural Services James Templeton.
The front and sides of the main building will be demolished within the next two weeks and the adjacent sidewalk will be closed during the process.
“They’re taking it down very cautiously because it’s near the sidewalk,” Templeton said.
We’re taking extreme precautions to make sure nothing bad happens.”
The project’s next steps are completing rough grading, or leveling, of the land before laying down field material and laying the foundations for the 1,700-square-foot locker room building.
“The project’s still on schedule,” Templeton said. “The weather has thrown a few curve balls this year, we had that winter storm … [but] there are days built into the schedule for bad weather.”
Templeton said there was a “long permitting process” in working with city companies like PECO, Philadelphia Gas Works, Philadelphia Water Department and Comcast.
The project also required permitting from the Streets Department because it will be rebuilding sidewalks, planting trees and making curb cuts for a small parking lot, Templeton said.
“We’ve had to coordinate with [the agencies],” he said. “All construction permitting has to go through the city. … All the companies have to look at them and make sure they’re correct.”
The finished complex will have a competition soccer field on the north side with a 400-meter running track around the field, bleachers and a “state-of-the-art” scoreboard, Templeton said. The south side will have a combined field hockey and lacrosse field and bleachers.
The locker room facility with bathrooms and a possible office will be between the two fields. Two entrances will be located on Girard Avenue and Master Street.
There are also unfinalized long-term plans to develop the section along Broad Street, but it is currently being left as a grassy area, Templeton said.
The Temple News previously reported that the William Penn Development Coalition believed the School Reform Commission blocked their efforts to purchase the property.
Templeton said the Office of Community Relations has been communicating with neighbors throughout the process.
“[We’ve been] working closely with the neighbors,” he said. “The Office of Community Relations have been very proactive in letting the neighbors know about street closures and [excessive] dust.”
Templeton added that construction crews utilize a hose to keep dust from demolition to a minimum and Temple has provided community members with car wash certificates when their cars have become dirtied.
Templeton said he didn’t know whether the fields and facility will be available to others beyond Temple athletic teams. However, any events held at the complex will be open to anyone who wishes to purchase a ticket. Members from Temple Athletics department could not be reached for comment.
State Rep. Curtis Thomas, whose district includes Main Campus, said he was against Temple purchasing the property.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was an illegal transaction,” he said. “The William Penn situation is over. Temple owns it now and will do whatever they want to do with it.”
Lian Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Lian_Parsons.
Julie Christie contributed reporting.