Today, Drexel acquired a large parcel of land at 32nd and Market, which they plan to use for unspecified development. West of 30th Street, Market street is full of parking lots, empty space, and broad sidewalks: Drexel's plans to add plantings and retail space seem like an uncontroversial, positive move for the neighborhood. However, Drexel University has big plans for turning its neighborhood into a campus: will they meet the same resistance that UPenn has met in its efforts to turn West Philly into University City?
Over the next four years, Drexel's plan for Market street looks like it'll have a small impact: they want to put retail space into buildings they already own, put in a few planters and benches at Market and 33rd, and move their career center, and redevelop assets they already own. However, their Campus Map for plans beyond 2017 shows a radically different vision for the area they're calling their campus, and their plans for development stretch far beyond Market Street.
Worth noting is the rhetoric Drexel is using: they're calling their development plan a "campus master plan," and frame development of the area bounded by 30th st. to the east, Walnut to the south, 40th st. to the west and Spring Garden to the north as "campus development." It's true that the area is their campus, but it also includes residential neighborhoods, like Mantua and Powelton Village that don't have strong ties to the University. As Drexel's development efforts move away from Market street, will they meet more resistance? Opposition to Penntrification is already well established. There's no similarly satisfying portmanteau for Drexel, (Drexification just doesn't have the same ring,) but similar criticism seems likely.
· Campus Master Plan [Drexel University]
· The Controversy over University City/Templetown [LOLadelphia]
· University City District Vandalizes Baltimore Ave [University City: The Rotting Gentry]