TUH a potential partner in multi-million dollar transportation hub

A rendering from the Urban Land Institute's report shows an open plaza space near the station. | COURTESY URBAN LAND INSTITUTE
A rendering from the Urban Land Institute's report shows an open plaza space near the station. | VIA URBAN LAND INSTITUTE

Temple University Hospital has been pegged as a possible partner in the revitalization efforts surrounding Amtrak’s North Philadelphia station.

The project, overseen by the North Station District LLC — a group of development companies who control the site — is led by 1967 philosophy alumnus Michael Bailkin who is the founder and chairman of The Arete Group.

Bailkin and his partners purchased land around the station from Amtrak, SEPTA and other vacant lots and buildings from local sources. The area is bound from Indiana to Glenwood Avenue and Broad Street to 17th Street.

The site could undergo nearly five million square feet of development in a multi-phase project.

A recent study from the Urban Land Institute — commissioned by the developers under advisement from the city — found that the project would benefit from having TUH “lease space, serve as a tenant or make a financial commitment,” but neither the university nor TUH has made any financial commitments toward the project.

The developers intend to create a space around the station for research and technology or an “innovation community,” Bailkin said. The space would focus on biotechnology and other scientific industries, similar to the area near Drexel University.

The first major development on the site, Bailkin said, will be a privately-funded structure with about 100 residential units, which is intended to house students and staff from TUH, and about 20,000 square feet of retail space. Construction will begin in about six months.

“We would welcome to the greatest degree any participation that Temple or any of its components wants to have,” Bailkin said. “I think the primary participation or interest that Temple will have is that they will be generating business opportunities for their professors or even students, and we would like to provide the private facilities that can house those business opportunities.”

JULIE CHRISTIE / THE TEMPLE NEWS
JULIE CHRISTIE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Alan Rosenberg, the vice president and chief of staff at TUH, was interviewed as a stakeholder for ULI’s report on the project. A spokesperson for TUH declined to make Rosenberg available for comment, but issued a statement.

“Temple University and Temple University Health System continue to have conversations about the proposed North Station District project and its potential benefits for North Philadelphia,” the statement reads.

Bailkin said he expects to have “significant interaction with the public sector” to receive a portion of the funds necessary for the project and provide information on the various regulations needed for this large-scale site.

Paul Chrystie, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Planning and Development, said his office will be working to continue the conversation about the project.

“Redevelopment of this area is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen North Philadelphia,” Chrystie said. “Accordingly, the Department of Planning and Development encouraged the developer to apply to ULI’s Technical Assistance Program and agreed to be a co-sponsor.”

“Planning and Development looks forward to working with the community, area property owners and other stakeholders as additional planning initiatives move forward,” he added.

A spokesperson for Amtrak — a company considered a stakeholder in the project, according to ULI’s report — said it is a “minor partner” in the revitalization efforts. The company operates the transportation center that sparked the revitalization efforts.

“We are certainly hopeful that the project is successful and trust that the experienced development team is headed in the right direction,” Amtrak’s spokesperson said.

Bailkin said he and his colleagues will be planning the future phases of the project attempting to avoid the idea of gentrification and functioning with the mindset of a “community developer.”

“We have to leave the area much better than we found it,” he added.

Will Bleier
can be reached at william.bleier@temple.edu Or you can follow Will on Twitter @will_bleier Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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