It isn't news that the neighborhood surrounding Temple University has seen an explosion of growth over the last few years. It seems like nary a month goes by that we don't have some news of a triplex here or a twenty-seven-unit project there. With all the construction in the area, you'd think that there's hardly any vacant land remaining and all of the blight has been renovated or replaced by now. And you'd be entirely wrong! Development has transformed many blocks near Temple, but some are still in pretty rough shape. Take, for instance, the 1500 block of Willington Street, which is only about two blocks away from campus.
We were first drawn to this block by the vacant building right on the northwest corner of Willington & Jefferson. It's got amazing bones but it's in terrible condition. A sign on the facade advertises an auction for the property which happened in 2014. On the plus side, the buyers at that auction were Union Housing Developers who should eventually renovate the structure into affordable housing. On the minus side, the building looks like this more than two years after they bought it:
The rest of the block is a mixed bag of vacant lots and vacant buildings, with the occasional rehab and unrenovated home dropped in for good measure. In the photo above, next to the corner building, you can see a vacant building that's been owned by the City for decades, a pair of renovated duplexes, and a pair of City-owned vacant lots. This trend continues as you move to the north.
For a change of pace, the vacant building in the foreground is owned by PHA. The building next door was built in the last few years, we'd imagine as student housing. Then there's a row of vacant buildings to the north, with the exception of one unrenovated, ostensibly occupied home. The blighted properties here are owned by a mix of private owners, developers, and the Redevelopment Authority.
Moving forward, it's quite safe to assume that the new construction and renovation infill will continue as the developers that own property on the block get to work. But the block will continue to be held back as long as City agencies have possession of eight of its twenty-one properties. As we told you before, this is only about two blocks away from Temple's campus, and we'd have to think it would be almost completely redeveloped if not for this situation. And for the record, we don't care whether the properties become student housing, affordable housing, or a mix of both, we just want to see blight disappear, especially so close to this major university.