9.28.2007

Recent Developments in University City

Two interesting pieces recently on the "gentrification" of University
City. My family and I are fortunate to have bought when we did; while
we knew the neighborhood always had a lot of history and culture and
infrastructure going for it, in the seven years we've been homeowners
we've seen marked increases in safety, kid-friendliness, and vibrancy.

Of course, rising property values are a double-edged sword for some,
and Penn is often blamed instead of lauded for its participation. If
you've read my blog at all, you know where I stand on the issue. If
anything, I think we need even more new development.

Take 46th and Market Streets, for example, the corner where I worked
for ten years and which is the site of a proposed mixed-use
development spearheaded by my old employer. Some of Philadelphia's
oldest developed blocks are near transit stops, and since we saw very
little investment in the second half of the 20th century, these
locations, far from being meccas of activity, are among the City's
oldest and shabbiest.

But a new push for development in the City, especially around transit
stops, provides an opportunity to make it right again. And it doesn't
just have to be latte-sipping yuppies, either; dense construction
allows developers to build affordable units and still make money, and
neighborhood residents get safer access to transit and the mobility to
employment and shopping nodes that that resource affords.

So let's keep an eye out on University City. We shouldn't haphazardly
pave over historic blocks and lose the richness of culture and life
that is contained in them. But nor should we reactively slam the door
on any new development.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/10100737.html

http://media.www.34st.com/media/storage/paper1076/news/2007/09/27/Feature/The-HipsterFication.Of.West.Philadelphia-2995300.shtml

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