University properties still vacant

Temple owns most of the properties on North Broad Street between Oxford and Thompson.

Since 2013, Temple has owned almost all the properties along North Broad Street between Oxford and Thompson streets. The university had demolished several buildings on the above property on Broad Street near Oxford by 2014. | OLIVIA O’NEILL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The university owns more than 100 properties in North Philadelphia near Main Campus and the Health Sciences Campus, but some of these properties remain vacant.

In August, Vice President of Temple’s Project Delivery Group Dozie Ibeh said the university has a “crisis of space” on Main Campus.

As the university continues to grow in numbers and size, The Temple News has reached out to officials to see if there are any future plans for to address the spatial “crisis” on Main Campus, inquiring specifically about the vacant properties the university owns.

Temple has no immediate plans for the properties, a university spokesman said.  But the university has invested money in the upkeep of these properties for years.

More than 20 years ago, Temple purchased some of these properties, which have the potential to increase in value as the university expands in North Philadelphia.

In 1970, Temple purchased the Burk Mansion, which is on Broad Street near Thompson for $2, according to city records. This property is worth more than $2.5 million today, but costs the university $300,000 per year for upkeep, according to city and archived records.

Between 1968 and 2014, Temple has acquired and demolished almost all properties, except for two plots, between Oxford and Thompson streets on North Broad Street and spent more than $3 million on the sites.

Temple does not own the Original Apostolic Faith Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is sandwiched between two Temple-owned properties, and Rite Aid Pharmacy on Broad Street near Oxford.

Officials from the church declined to comment on whether Temple has approached the church to purchase the land.

But Pat, a congregation member who declined to give her last name, told The Temple News that the university would not be successful in acquiring the land because other parishioners would not allow it.

“Temple’s arms are too short to box with God,” she said.

The Burk Mansion was originally set to become a place for the Honor’s College,  but the university removed those plans from its site without reason in 2012.

City officials told The Temple News in 2012 that some of the university’s plans for the building “were dependent on the university’s acquisition of the adjacent properties, which has proven difficult.”

Temple is currently focused on other on-campus projects like demolishing Peabody Residence Hall during winter break and completing the new library by May 2019.

Jerry Leva, the vice president for planning and capital projects, said the “momentum” of the university “demands” space and that these properties serve as potential options.

“These areas open up exciting possibilities to maximize Temple’s existing footprint to best serve our academic community,” Leva told The Temple News.

Temple has not “significantly expanded its footprint in years,” with the exception of the Temple Sports Complex on Broad and Master streets, Leva added.

[starbox id=”mattmccann,gillianmcgoldrick”]

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.