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March 15, 2023
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Philadelphia released its Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Report today, summarizing recommendations to assist La Salle University in forming strong community partnerships through two main themes: Capacity Building and Communications; and Community and Economic Development. The report concludes a study that included interviews with nearly 30 stakeholders and a two-day meeting of real estate and land-use professionals, urban planners, and other experts.
The interdisciplinary panel of volunteer experts, at the request of La Salle University, explored a series of questions about how to develop a neighborhood reinvestment initiative in Philadelphia’s Upper North District where the campus is located. The recommendations developed seek to leverage La Salle’s intellectual and human resources to support community efforts to attract new businesses and develop community-promoting policies through tangible short- and long-term strategies to drive positive change.
The first category of recommendations, Capacity Building and Communications, lay a foundation for La Salle to first develop internal capacity, create institution-wide consensus on engagement priorities, and develop pathways to clearer communication with external stakeholders.
The second category, Community and Economic Development, has strategies for the University to embrace its role as a convener in the community, bringing together community organizations, adjacent anchor institutions, and strategic partners with the city or agencies such as SEPTA, to achieve community reinvestment goals.
Founded in 1863, La Salle College was named for St. John Baptist de La Salle and originally located in Olde Kensington. In 1930, the Catholic school moved to its current location in the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Belfield and eventually became La Salle University. The University touches multiple neighborhoods—namely, Logan, Ogontz and East Germantown. Historic public disinvestment combined with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken a toll on the area known as Upper North District. However, the Philadelphia 2035 Upper North District plan notes the area’s many strengths, including anchor institutions such as La Salle University, that serve as economic stabilizers, providing thousands of jobs to area residents.
Although community relations between the University and local neighbors have fluctuated over the years, the report presents recommendations to revive pre-COVID community building efforts such as reconvening the Community Building Team, and opportunities for community building under new leadership including President Daniel Allen, who was inaugurated in 2022.
“We are proud to call the Belfield neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia our home for nearly a century. This history-rich community is filled with unique cultures, religions, people, spaces, and customs that enhance the experiences of living, learning, and working on our campus,” states Alisa Macksey, Vice President of Mission, Diversity, and Inclusion at La Salle University. “Engaging with ULI Philadelphia allows our university to better understand how we can convene new partnerships with community organizations and expand existing ones, all while working toward shared goals of better serving those in our campus community and beyond.”
The panel—chaired by Isaac Kwon, Principal, Urban Partners, and Nancy Gephart, Partner, Shift Capital—saw great potential for La Salle University to expand its role as an anchor institution, directly engage with and convene community members, and help attract businesses that support the surrounding neighborhood. These long-term initiatives and goals are achievable through a foundation of rebuilding trust and creating opportunities to hear to community needs.
To view the full report, visit philadelphia.uli.org.
ULI Expert Volunteer Panel:
About ULI Philadelphia
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute whose mission is to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide. Established in 1936, ULI today has more than 45,000 members around the world representing the entire spectrum of land-use and development disciplines including developers, builders, property owners, investors, architects, public officials, planners, attorneys, engineers, academics, and others engaged in the land-use field. The Philadelphia District Council encompasses about 900 members throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the southern half of New Jersey. For more information, visit philadelphia.uli.org.
Learn more about the ULI Philadelphia Technical Assistance Panel program here.
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