People are lining up to leave Philly. Discount airlines don’t know what to do with all the people at their gates. The suburbs are booming. Even 110- degree Phoenix now boasts a higher population than Philadelphia.
But this city is feeling a heat wave of its own — and it’s starting just north of Market Street.
The run-down, neglected, poverty-stricken area dubbed the “badlands” was once an eyesore that typified Philadelphia’s population decline. Now it is where all eyes are transfixed.
Due in large part to booming enrollment at Temple, North Philadelphia is on the receiving end of a serious facelift. The university is doing its part to sponsor expansion, which includes the newly constructed Oxford and University Villages. These were added to a number of recently refurbished buildings including Kardon and Elmira Jeffries, as well as the new $16 million community center on the corner of 15th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. And just a block away at Broad Street, plans are continuing to erect two university-sponsored buildings by this time next year.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, this is just a microcosm of the privately funded “$500 million in construction projects — including 5,000 new houses, condos or apartments — planned or under way” in North Philadelphia.
Undoubtedly, displaced juniors and seniors are among those taking advantage of the housing boom. Driven off Temple’s Main Campus by restricted housing policies, a number of students are in the process of, or have completed the task of scouring surrounding neighborhoods in the quest to secure a new abode. But for those tackling the project with a sense of entitlement – be warned. Not all of North Philadelphia’s residents are greeting the changes with smiles.
Some residents are not only frowning at the prospect of paying higher property taxes because of the expansion, but are worried that the revitalization of North Philadelphia will inevitably bring Temple’s presence ever closer to their everyday lives.
As a campus, Temple University may seem like a self-contained entity, but its tentacles can be far-reaching and burdensome. The parking fiasco in and around campus has done nothing to appease area residents, and the spillover of students into area communities is a legitimate concern as well.
Displaced upperclassman may feel they deserve a large portion of North Philadelphia, fortified with the near-sighted goal of establishing a residence and then getting out as soon as possible. So be it. But many North Philadelphia residents have been living in the region since before most Temple students were even born. And despite areas that are still crime ridden or littered with trash, many residents take great pride in their communities. When it comes to economic growth and expansion, a new hope is pervading the “badlands.” The best any Temple student inhabiting the area can do is contribute to the clean-up of these neighborhoods.
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