the UCHS working with Penn on this? If so, in what way? If not why not?
The UCHS is not working with the University of Pennsylvania on this effort.
Most of Penn's campus is outside of the historic district boundaries,
and so Penn is not directly affected. Buildings that Penn owns that are
within the district boundaries will be subject to review, and as owners,
Penn will be notified of hearing dates and issues just as all other building
owners are notified, once the nomination is submitted and the Historical
Commission begins the public notification/educational process.
preserving fabric of the community - how would you envision expansion
of local institutions affecting the current neighborhood? Do you actually
believe Penn will expand westward?
Right now, we are not aware of any plans for the westward expansion of
Penn. Historically, expansion of large institutions into residential neighborhoods
has often meant the demolition of historic houses and commercial buildings,
as happened with blocks of Walnut and Locust Street in the 50's and 60's;
and as happened in Powelton Village (where Drexel is expanding) on Race
Streets, 33rd and 34th Streets in the 70's. The UCHS believes that the
historic designation will enable residents to preserve the fabric of the
the University of Pennsylvania have a position on this? And if so, what
is it? and if the proponents don't know, why haven't they found out?
This issue has been repeatedly raised in various community forum meetings,
open to all members of the community and generally attended by representatives
of community groups, including UCHS, civic associations, individual community
members, and representatives of the University. The University of Pennsylvania
has not expressed a position on the historic designation issue.
Center for Community Partnerships includes a recommendation on its web
site that the historic designation process for Spruce Hill proceed. What
financial and other assistance, including help in obtaining grants, have
the groups sponsoring and paying for the preparation of this nomination
received from the University?
The Center for Community Partnerships hosts an informational web site
that contains a link to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission Report,
"The Plan for West Philadelphia" in which the Planning Commission
recommends the creation of an historic district for Spruce Hill.; this
is neither a recommendation nor an endorsement of historic designation
by the Center for Community Partnerships. Neither the UCHS, nor the joint
fundraising group for the historic district (comprised of members of both
UCHS and the Spruce Hill Civic Association) has received any financial
assistance, or any other assistance of any kind, from Penn.
the Historic District proposal and the boundaries of the catchment area
for the Penn Assisted school together, if not separately, point to "gentrification"
that will raise purchase and rental prices to the point where a lot of
people who now live here might otherwise find this a desirable area will
be forced out?
housing and rental prices have certainly risen in recent years, this is
part of a city-wide trend, and is not attributable directly to any one
factor. Historic districts are only one element of the many issues that
determine the market value of a property, or the market rent a landlord
chooses to charge. In addition, to quote from a recent study, "gentrification"
is often a positive force in a neighborhood; people often stay in an improving
neighborhood. It is the deterioration of a neighborhood that causes people
following is reprinted from an article on several recent studies of gentrification:
the New York Times, March 26, 2002)
all think we know how gentrification works. Developers and yuppies discover
charm in an old neighborhood, and soon the very people who created the
neighborhood can't afford it anymore. Janitors and artists are forced
out of their homes to make room for lawyers and bankers.
This process has been routinely denounced in neighborhoods like Harlem
and Park Slope in Brooklyn. But when researchers recently looked for
evidence of such turnover, the results were surprising.
Gentrification does not cause an exodus of the poor and the working
class, according to a study in New York and another in Boston. Just
the opposite happens: people with relatively little income and education
become more likely to stick around. The rate of turnover declines, apparently
because people don't like to leave a neighborhood when it's improving.
You may have a hard time believing these results, but you can't dismiss
them as propaganda from developers. The New York study was done by Lance
Freeman, a professor of planning at Columbia University, and Frank Braconi,
an economist and the executive director of the Citizens Housing and
Planning Council, a well-respected nonprofit research organization with
a centrist position in New York's housing wars.
There are always, of course, some people who move out of gentrifying
neighborhoods. But then, some people would move out even if the neighborhood
didn't change. To see how gentrification affects turnover, Dr. Freeman
and Dr. Braconi analyzed the city's Housing and Vacancy Survey, which
is gathered by revisiting the same 15,000 housing units every three
According to the survey, only 5 percent of the New Yorkers who moved
during the late 1990's reported being forced to move by high rents.
That percentage was a little lower than during the real estate doldrums
of the early 1990's, when there was less gentrification going on.
For a more precise measure, Dr. Freeman and Dr. Braconi looked at the
survey data in seven gentrifying neighborhoods: the Lower East Side,
Chelsea, Harlem and Morningside Heights in Manhattan, and Williamsburg,
Fort Greene and Park Slope in Brooklyn. In those neighborhoods, the
poor and working-class tenants -- those who had low incomes or who lacked
a college degree -- were about 20 percent less likely to move during
the 1990's than were socioeconomically similar tenants in the rest of
''You've got two competing forces in a gentrifying neighborhood,'' Dr.
Braconi said. ''The prices are going up, which gives low-income people
an incentive to leave. But the neighborhood's getting nicer, so people
have more incentive to stay. There's been an assumption by community
activists that the incentive to leave is stronger, but that turns out
to be wrong. You don't displace the poor. You actually slow down the
process of people moving out of the neighborhood.''
the historic district is in place, will that have the strength to prevent
Penn from expanding into the neighborhood?
Penn, like any property owner, will be required to have the Historical
Commission's approval before doing any work to their buildings. Also,
all of the meetings of the Commission are open to the public, so the community
will have a chance to see the changes proposed by a property owner and
the historic district and the boundaries of the catchment area overlap?
Do you mean the catchment area of the new school? If there is an overlap
it's purely coincidental. The boundaries of the proposed district reflect
the historical development of the area.
George Thomas's presentation, we noticed how many historic buildings are
now owned by Penn, UCD, Restaurant School. He began by saying how designation
would protect buildings from institutions. Aren't we really preserving
buildings from eventual take over by Penn?
The Historical Commission does not regulate who owns a particular property.
these questions address very specific situations. Without knowing the
subject property's address or having photographs showing the existing
conditions, it is difficult to give answers that take into account every
instance that may occur on every building. If you have any follow-up questions,
please do not hesitate to contact the Historical Commission directly at
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