Monday, June 19, 2006

Universities as Developers

Related to the subject of earlier posts (here and here) on university expansions, the Philadelphia Inquirer has a story on a major redevelopment project being undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania:

The Schuylkill is just 330 feet wide at Walnut Street, but by other measuring sticks, Center City and West Philadelphia are far more distant neighbors. The west bank's tangle of rail lines, its grimy industrial remains, the roaring expressway - all have served to further cleave the city.

That divide could begin to narrow next year, when the University of Pennsylvania embarks on an epic riverfront redevelopment project. It is expected to take more than two decades, cost $1.94 billion and, as high hopes go, ultimately meld Center City and West Philadelphia into one big, lively city core.

Endorsed by the university trustees on Thursday, Penn's plan is to revitalize 40 acres from Walnut Street to just below South Street on the campus' eastern edge. On what is now an eyesore of a site, office towers, condos and research centers would rise amid new athletic fields and recreation spaces, shops and restaurants. There is even talk of an elegant pedestrian bridge arcing the Schuylkill.

The story is very positive, and doesn't suggest that the project will involve eminent domain or displacement of residents.  Still, it's a big project, so there must be some controversy somewhere.  If not, more power to Penn.

Ben Barros

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Kind of along the same theme of universities as property developers, California State University, Ventura owns a whole neighborhood of homes that are reserved for University faculty, staff and students. The neighborhood has a very strict CC&R (which among other things prohibits possessing firearms on the property) and, if I'm remembering correctly, all of the homes can only be "purchased" for really long leases, No traditional fee simple type ownership. I thought the whole thing was rather weird at the time, but now I see that it isn't all that bizarre.

Posted by: Fern R | Jun 19, 2006 6:22:31 PM

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