University loses bid on property

The unnamed residence hall on 12th and Montgomery streets. Despite a rainy summer and an accident in July where no one was hurt, the building is expected to open next fall. | Amanda Shaffern TTN
The unnamed residence hall on 12th and Montgomery streets. Despite a rainy summer and an accident in July where no one was hurt, the building is expected to open next fall. | Amanda Shaffern TTN

The as-of-yet unnamed residence hall being constructed by a private firm in conjunction with Bright Hope Baptist Church on North 11th Street and West Montgomery Avenue is on schedule to open in the fall of next year, despite an uncharacteristically wet summer, an official with the development firm said.

Kevin Trapper, a senior vice president with the Goldenberg Group, the development firm in charge of the project, said work on the steel structure has been completed and the bright red and orange side paneling is currently being installed. Trapper said construction on the building is expected to be finished in June 2014 and will be completely furnished by move-in next fall.

Construction on the site faced a scary incident in the first week of July, when a crane lifting a set of stairs into the structure shifted weight, sending the stairs crashing through a layer of concrete 15 feet below. Trapper said that no one was hurt and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the incident. No other incidents or accidents have occurred since, Trapper said.

The slanted columns that some students said appear unsteady are “purely aesthetic” Trapper said, and “100 percent part of the design.”

The property, which formerly housed John Wanamaker Middle School, was bought by the Goldenberg Group and Bright Hope Baptist Church in 2008 from the School District of Philadelphia for $10.75 million.

Ray Betzner, associate vice president for university communications, confirmed that Temple submitted a losing bid for the property, though he could not say what plans the university had for the property.

Citing the continued development of the university’s 20/20 plan, which was transitioned into a new project called Visualize Temple last spring, Trapper said that the Goldenberg Group is in contact with university officials over the development of the remaining 2.5 acres of the property between West Montgomery and Cecil B. Moore avenues.

“We want to continue to be good neighbors and an asset to the university,” Trapper said, while noting that there was no formal agreement between the group and the university regarding the renting process for students.

The university had such an agreement with the Edge, but due to the completion of Morgan Hall, the university chose not to renew its contract, which required the private apartment complex to rent out a set number of beds through Temple’s residential life department. The university maintains a similar type of contract with Elmira Jeffries, the privately owned residence hall on 15th and Jefferson streets.

Trapper guessed that the majority of students renting space in the new building will be Temple students. The leases offered will be for 12 months. The Goldenberg Group has not released pricing options on the rooms, though Trapper said they will be competitive with university housing and other local developers.

In addition to its neighbor relation to the university, the Goldenberg Group is maintaining a “community development,” as well as a financial  relationship with Bright Hope Baptist Church across the street,  Trapper said.

While not disclosing the aspects of the financial agreement, Trapper said the arangement had been restructured a year ago so Bright Hope “could get finacial benefit earlier.” The church could not be reached for comment by the time of press.

John Moritz can be reached at john.moritz@temple.edu or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.

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