By: Mike Lyons
Residents got their first glimpse last night at the University of the Sciences’ plan for the former Alexander Wilson School property at 46th and Woodland – a glassy 4- to 5-story dormitory with ground-floor retail and a open courtyard along Woodland Avenue.
The proposed new dorm, which will house about 400 students and replace residence facilities elsewhere on the campus, will be U-shaped with the open end of the U along Woodland. The university hopes to break ground for the building in December or January and open it to new students in the fall of 2018.
Along with concerns about parking and the choice of retail, residents on 46th Street were worried that the building would block sunlight for much of the day.
“You’re not going to put me in the shade,” said Lucile Fletcher, the long-time block captain of the 1300 block of South 46th.
The project’s architect, Nick Mansperger of the Baltimore-based firm Design Collective, told Fletcher and the more than 40 residents on hand for the meeting that sun studies his firm conducted showed minimal shading of 46th.
Mansperger said that many of the murals on the school property would be recreated on the new dormitory.
Concerns about parking were somewhat alleviated by the university’s plan to simultaneously build a 4- to 5-story parking garage further south on the campus, which should be completed at roughly the same time as the new dorm. The garage will be built on top of an existing parking lot so the gain in parking spots would be modest.
While several in attendance applauded the plan as a way to liven up Woodland Avenue, many sought assurances from university officials in attendance that residents and nearby businesses would not be left out of the planning process.
USciences reportedly paid $2 million for the property in 2014, about a year after the School District of Philadelphia decided to close the school and sell it.
Several neighbors and a former teacher at the school called for a special ceremony to honor the school’s 100-year legacy in the community. University officials agreed last night to help plan the ceremony.
The plan still has to go through the city zoning process.
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