President Richard Englert wrote in an email to the Temple community last week that the university will “soon file” a project submission to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.
This announcement comes nearly three years after the university first started considering a potential on-campus facility in 2015. The university has exercised the option to continue to play at Lincoln Financial Field through 2019.
The clock is ticking for the university to build a new location for its football team for the 2020 season. There have been no reports of other deals for them to play elsewhere.
But before the university makes its final decision about the potential stadium, Temple’s plan must be approved by several city departments and City Council.
Before university officials can break ground for an on-campus facility, it must receive certain permits and recommendations from city officials.
The university still has to submit its proposal, but based on what it has been released publicly, it will need to go through City Council, the Streets Department, the Water Department, the City Planning Commission and possibly the Civic Design Review Committee, said Paul Chrystie, the deputy director for communications at the City Planning Commission, in a statement to The Temple News.
The plan for the university’s 35,000-seat stadium requires that the city close 15th Street to build atop it.
City Council must pass legislation to close 15th Street between Norris Street and Montgomery Avenue. This is the only uninterrupted street that runs southbound toward Center City between Broad and 26th streets.
But in an email to community organization leaders obtained by The Temple News, a City Planning Commission representative said closing this would require “a Street bill,” which the Streets Department and the City Planning Commission have “veto power over” that City Council can’t override.
Darrell Clarke, City Council president and councilman for the 5th District in North Philadelphia, told The Temple News last week that he’s had “open communication” with university leaders and they’re aware of his and his constituents’ concerns.
“The announcement made today does not alter my or affected residents’ expectation that there be an inclusive and honest community engagement process as the stadium proposal moves forward,” Clarke said in the statement. “Nearby residents, local businesses, service nonprofits and students all deserve a seat at the table as Temple proceeds with this major development.”
The proposal will also need to be reviewed by the Streets Department for compliance and by the Water Department for stormwater management capabilities, Chrystie added.
It’s also likely that the Civic Design Review Committee, which is under the City Planning Commission, will have to review the proposal to determine the impact of the facility’s construction and design in the North Philadelphia area, Chrystie added.
If the university’s proposal does go before the Civic Design Review Committee, the university must hold a community meeting about the design to discuss sidewalks, pedestrian entrances, vehicle entrances, trash management and other similar topics.
The Civic Design Review Committee does not have any deciding power, but will issue a letter to the City Planning Commission with its suggestions after the meeting.
After a Civic Design Review Committee recommendation, the university then needs to gain approval from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to amend Temple’s Campus Master Plan, which is a 2014 plan that guides the university’s physical growth.
According to the email sent to community leaders, this change requires a zoning bill that would add square feet to the campus plan to be passed. The bill would first need to be introduced in City Council.
“Because these steps take place with different entities, some of them can occur at the same time,” Chrystie wrote. “However, because the reviews will be dependent on what the University ultimately submits and there has been no submission yet, it is not yet possible to identify the timeline.”
Englert told the Inquirer that he estimates the process will take five months.
Eventually, the university will need to present its proposal in front of community residents at a ward meeting.
At the end of the meeting, present community residents vote if they want the proposal to be built in their neighborhood. The ward leader will then submit the community’s opinion to the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections to consider before issuing permits or permissions.
Votes by the ward are nonbinding, but Licenses and Inspections takes the community’s opinion into account if it is concerned with zoning issues.
Judith Robinson, the Democratic chair of the 32nd Ward, told The Temple News she will request the details of Temple’s $1.25 million feasibility study. If she receives this information, she’ll request a city planning official to discuss it with community residents at an upcoming meeting.
Robinson said she expects this meeting to occur within three weeks.
Community residents may not have a direct say on if Temple will build its on-campus “multipurpose facility.” But residents will be able to voice their opinions to elected officials and other government employees during the proposal process.
“Every aspect of the stadium experience, from construction to its day-to-day operations, will be planned and executed with the priorities and well-being of Temple’s neighbors in mind,” according to the project overview that Temple released about the stadium. “After looking at other urban stadiums, we are confident we can take these concerns into account and make this a valuable addition to North Philadelphia .”