University City: Friends of 40th Street gathers community stakeholders

November 11, 2011

By Kara Savidge
For PlanPhilly

In the rapidly changing neighborhood surrounding 40th Street, a variety of stakeholders have emerged with answers to the question of future development.

The corridor not only presents and continues to generate opportunity for a critical commercial and transportation thoroughfare, but also connects the surrounding neighborhoods. Said neighborhoods sit both old and new — with newer development comprising University City, budding from the growth of nearby Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania.

Marcus Mays, a longtime resident of 40th Street, said that he the area has been significantly cleaned up. However, he said that as soon as you cross Lancaster Avenue, it’s a “whole other world.”

Harris Steinberg, the director of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, said they were asked by the university to look at the 40th Street corridor.

“The goal was with the down economy, before the market picks up again, to get ahead of questions about development, scale, pedestrian character in a way that is constructive as opposed to tension around a specific development project,” Steinberg said. “They came to us to really see if we could help shape a conversation around this.”

The result was the Friends of 40th Street — a coalition of citizens and institutional presences, among community development corporations and community groups. Beyond the work by PennPraxis, University City District and Sustainable Communities Initiative-West both made significant contributions to the project, which focuses on 40th Street from Baltimore Avenue in the south to Lancaster Avenue.

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