PennDOT announced today it will soon begin a $6.6 million renovation of the Spring Garden Street bridges, the several spans that take Spring Garden Street over the Schuylkill River, MLK Drive and Interstate 76. One of the two bridges that connect the Art Museum area with Mantua and Powelton Village is structurally deficient.
Construction starts Monday, August 11th.
In a release, PennDOT says crews will resurface the deck, replace expansion joints and other bridge parts, improve drainage and paint it. They will also replace curb ramps. In good news for non-drivers, PennDOT also plans to update signage and markings for pedestrians and bicyclists. (There is already a thin bike lane on the bridge.)
Starting in late August, trucks longer than 30 feet will be prohibited from the Spring Garden Street bridges. In mid-September, the exit ramp from I-76 West will be closed for about 70 days. Lanes will also intermittently be closed during off-peak times. The construction is expected to be completed by next summer.
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Last night the School Reform Commission approved the sale of seven schools and one district administration building to the tune of $37.8 million. After closing costs and bond payments, the district is expected to net $25.8 million, which has already been factored into the current budget.
Drexel purchased a 14.1 acre site comprising University City High, Drew Elementary and Walnut Center. The $25.1 million parcel will be redeveloped for mixed use and will also serve as the new home for Samuel Powel Elementary, which already partners with Drexel. More to come on that front, we expect.
Solomon Leach at the Daily News outlined the other buildings involved in the sale:
Metal Ventures Inc. purchased Childs Elementary School in Point Breeze for $1.2 million.
Maritime Academy Charter purchased Stephen Douglas High in Port Richmond for $2.1 million.
Orens Bros. purchased Alexander Wilson Elementary in West Philly for $4.6 million.
Mastery Charter purchased Anna Shaw Middle School in Kingsessing for $2.7 million.
Independence Mission Schools purchased William Harrison Elementary in North Philly for $1.4 million.
The Powelton Village Civic Association is not pleased.
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What would the residents of Powelton Village like to see Drexel University do with the University City High School site? Top of the list: create a new K-8 public school to augment the highly regarded Samuel Powel School.
What would be the last thing they want to see on the site? More student housing.
What is Drexel University’s top development priority for the UCHS property? Build a new, university-assisted K-8 public school. What won’t it put on the site? New dorms.
Neither Drexel University President John Fry nor the civic leaders, architects and planners who organized a March 5 planning workshop at 38th Street and Lancaster Avenue had spoken to each other before the event, but comments Fry made in a post-workshop interview made it seem as though he had read their minds.
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University City High School. Photo via Wikimedia.
One of the big concerns many residents of neighborhoods undergoing major change have is preserving the character of their neighborhood. Usually, such discussions focus on the architecture of an area, especially an area where the homes are of a uniform style and have lasted long enough.
Many Philadelphia neighborhoods like Powelton Village are filled with distinctive 19th-century Victorian and neoclassical homes. Some residents of such neighborhoods want to make sure that 19th-century ambience survives intact.
Not everyone agrees with this view, however.
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A few years ago, Todd Potter says he realized there was a big void in the Philadelphia real estate market. Students looking to live off-campus had two options, he said. There was university-sponsored housing or local landlords renting out the same old properties. Four years later, his University Realty is expanding further into Powelton Village at about a 100% occupancy rate.
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