PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania West Philadelphia Initiatives project has won top honors from the Urban Land Institute's Awards for Excellence competition, which is widely recognized as the land-use industry's most prestigious award.
The West Philadelphia Initiatives program, an urban-planning and community-development program, has reduced crime and blight, increased job opportunities and improved the quality of life in West Philadelphia neighborhoods. Those developments in turn have reinforced the University ability to attract the best students, faculty, staff and research opportunities.
"Urban universities have the power and the responsibility to make a positive impact in their communities, and we at Penn are delighted to be honored by the Urban Land Institute for our work," said Judith Rodin, Penn president. "Thousands of Penn people have been involved in this commitment to the community. They all share in this honor."
This comprehensive neighborhood-revitalization program was structured around five principles: clean and safe streets, housing and homeownership, improvement of public education, economic development and commercial development.
Among the successful projects honored with the ULI award are:
University Square, a 300,000-square-foot project housing a hotel and the campus bookstore as well as restaurants, retail space and public plazas.
Hamilton Square, a 35,000-square-foot project featuring a gourmet grocery, cinema and multistory parking garage.
The Left Bank, a $55 million conversion of a 700,000-square-foot warehouse into 282 market-rate apartments with retail and office space.
The Penn Alexander School, a public elementary school developed by the University's Graduate School of Education in conjunction with the Philadelphia School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
The success of the West Philadelphia Initiatives in bringing employment, investment and quality-of-life improvements to West Philadelphia has become a model for collaboration between universities and urban communities throughout the United States.