The high cost of building student housing is pushing Temple University to consider renovating older facilities and contracting with private developers to increase the number of beds available for students on Main Campus.
University Housing has targeted the aging Temple Towers dorm for an overhaul.
The University conducted a study last year that recommended that the building be
renovated rather than demolished.
The renovation will take place over two summer breaks, although dates have not yet been set, according to Director of Housing John Niven.
Once plans have been approved, he said the renovation would make “more efficient use of space” in Towers.
“At the moment there is too much unusable area,” said Niven.
The tentative plan calls for creating two-bedroom apartments and upgrading the bathrooms and kitchens.
The building’s balconies will also be enclosed for safety reasons. The renovations will slightly increase in the number of beds in Towers.
University officials are unsure as to where more housing will be created.
Liacouras Walk is one possibility, but no there are currently no plans for further development along the walk, according to Niven.
“That area is prime for development, although we haven’t decided whether it would be more useful as housing, retail or classrooms,” said Niven.
The University is also in the process of finding the funding needed for new housing. Investment can come from the city, the university itself or private developers.
Temple is currently engaged in discussions and hopes to have a definitive investment plan by the end of the year.
Recently, the University has begun to look to private developers such as Philadelphia Housing Management, which owns the Kardon Building, to create housing near Main Campus.
“The University has already incurred a large amount of debt from building structures like [the] 1940 and 1300 [residence halls],” said Niven.
“Temple is not looking to add any more debt from housing projects. Finding private developers is the next best option.”
Philadelphia Management is currently developing student apartments in the former Elmira Jeffries nursing home on 15th and Jefferson streets.
Since there is a shortage of University-owned plots in the area for officials to offer developers, they are hoping to attract private developers by assuring that any investment would be safe because of the large number of students.
The growing enrollment at the university will be a factor for any developer, Niven said.
“There needs to be a decision made about future enrollment expectations, specifically what size the University wants to be in five or 10 years,” Niven said.
“We also have to determine what our long-term relationship will be with our auxiliary housing, such as Kardon, Ben Franklin House and Presidential City.”
As students move further into the community and away from the heart of the main campus, the University also has begun to consider the needs of residents of North Philadelphia as well as the well being of the students.
“Temple and town issues are constantly being considered,” said Niven.
“I’m hopeful that the school will consider the [city of Davenport’s] model.
In that case the city developed an entire city block with both units for the students to rent as well as townhouses for low-income families.”
Holli Powitzky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.