Notes from Community Forum
March 15, 2004

The final community meeting focused on reviewing the draft principles for the evolution of 40th Street. Over 60 people discussed the draft principles noting their strengths and weaknesses. That discussion highlighted the need for community conversation to clarify how to apply and perhaps modify the principles as a set (not individually). The University reiterated its commitment to using the principles as criteria for success of its own development activities in the area. This led to a discussion of how the larger community might take ownership of the principles and process to become an agent for positive change.

1. What do people notice about the long and the short lists of principles?

o There is a mix of ideas and values
o There is a repetition of themes
o In general, the principles are sympathetic, with little tension across them.
o There is the acknowledgement of a diversity of people, uses, and modes. Call for a multi-faceted approach to development.
o The call for a visual upgrade might produce tension.
o As the principles went from the specific (long list) to the general (short list), tensions were lost.

  • By becoming so general, we ended up with nothing.
  • Content was lost in the watering down of the principles in their final draft form.
  • Constraints were also lost in this process.
o The lists indicate that 40th Street is many things to many people.
o The principles represent a base of ideas and values that are all agreeable.
  • The goal now would be to prioritize action and move forward.
o There is a tension between diversity and cohesion.
o The principles are to be read as a set, rather than individual prescriptions.
o There are some accurate reflections of the community conversation in the principles.
o The principles represent the capturing of ideas for the future.
o Need to commit to revising and revisiting the principles on an ongoing basis.
o The principles set boundaries and filters for development.
o There is an inherent sense of caution, to proceed with care.
o The word "equitable" was lost from the principle about economic development.
  • Suggestion to abstract the principles in order to avoid hot button phrases such as "equitable development" and "free market."
o There is a strong sense of a mix of business, residents and visitors inherent in the principles.
o Is transportation missing? Should Septa be a partner in this process?
o Acknowledgement of bicycles is missing.
o The call for humane design - in particularly in affordable housing.
o Should there be a design review and is this a process or a principle?
o We know that the principles exclude the building of a suburban mall on 40th Street. But what else do they tell us?
o Research is needed to learn from other model urban corridor revitalization plans.
o The principles represent a group of core values that grew out of a listening to the community process.
  • They are a guide for making choices.
2. What are the principles for? How are they to be used? Who uses them?

o Their purpose is to act as guidelines to monitor and support the continual evolution of 40th Street.
o What can the community do to ensure that the principles are followed?
o Once the debate is framed, how will people vote with their feet and their wallets?

  • Will they use small shops or frequent larger chains elsewhere in the neighborhood?
o The principles represent an explicit statement of community values that needs to be continually revisited and re-evaluated.

3. How do we keep the process going?

o Continue the dialogue with ongoing meetings.
o Acknowledge that evolution and change are constants.
o Penn wants to be one voice among many.
o Create a task force of business owners, Septa, City reps, community people and Penn to meet on a regular/ad hoc basis to effect change. .

  • Turn the principles into a plan for action.
o The community needs to take ownership of the principles - to use them to become and remain an active voice and player in the changing dynamics of the marketplace. Some possible ideas for an organization to advance this process included:
  • 40th Street Planning Commission (new)
  • Friends of 40th Street (new)
  • 40th Street Area Business Association (existing)
o There has to be an entity that drives the process. It must be organized and meet on a regular basis.
o Acknowledge that there was an open process to develop the principles. As a set, they have meaning. Those seeking to develop along 40th Street will understand that it is in their enlightened self-interest to adopt the principles.
o Two options to proceed:
  • Post principles and hope they are used.
  • Create a group of volunteers that takes ownership of the process and becomes an agent for positive change. Get to know the players and help influence decisions.

4. Recommended Next Steps: Expand the current steering committee and continue its work

o Create a community-focused task force with members to include:

  • Members of the current steering committee
  • Community group representatives
  • 40th Street Area Business Association
  • Representatives of 3901 Market Street
  • Students
  • Property owners
  • Design experts from neighborhood
  • Bankers and those knowledgeable about economic development
  • Councilwoman Blackwell's office
  • Representatives from local institutions
    • Penn
    • Faith-based
    • USP
    • Drexel
    • Non-profits
  • Representatives from:
    • University City District
    • UC Green
    • Philadelphia City Planning Commission
    • Philadelphia Commercial Development Corporation
o The current steering committee can be enlisted to help expand the committee.

© 2004, 40th Street Community Forum and Serendip