Way back in 2009, word came out that Bright Hope Baptist Church and the Goldenberg Group were partnering to redevelop the 4.6 acre former Wanamaker Middle School at 11th and Cecil B. Moore Ave. with the goal of creating about one-thousand housing units for Temple students, a neighborhood charter school, and an entrepreneurial center for local residents. While this project got decent coverage when it was first announced, we haven’t heard a peep about it since.

Whelp, we’re here to tell you that the two-year wait is over, and demolition and remanding of hazardous materials have begun, marking the first step toward an idyllic and highly stylized rendering of the future.

Here are some shots from a week and a half ago. Apparently, more demo has taken place since then.

12th & Cecil B

Front of the school

Mural that we can't imagine is going to be around for long. Is that Bill Cosby?

From 11th and Cecil B

From 11th and Montgomery

The rendering above came from architects Wallace, Roberts & Todd, who produced it back in 2009. We suspect the plans have changed some in the interim, but no new renderings have been released since. According to the original plan, phase one of the project is expected to revolve around renovating the existing school to create 200 student housing units, along with a Green Construction Training Center and an Arts & Education Forum. Later phases of the project will include new residential towers for students, retail spaces, the charter school, and landscaping of public space.

A site plan from WRT for all phases of the project

We’re enthused that this complex and bold project is finally getting off the ground. Temple has seen tremendous growth, as we’ve seen demonstrated by the staggering development of student housing in the area in recent years, and more student housing is a must. The elements of this project that expand and improve services for people in the local community who aren’t associated with Temple could make this project a model for future University development- we’re just hoping that Councilman Clarke’s recent introduction of a bill to ban new student housing in the vicinity of Temple University won’t interfere with this project in any way.

Fingers crossed.