Major expansion ‘unlikely’ on Drexel’s Queen Lane campus

For East Falls residents, the biggest news to come out of Tuesday night’s meeting with Drexel University officials on the school’s future plans for its medical school campus might just be that there are no big plans.

Drexel officials told members of the East Falls Community Council that the university intends no major growth or expansion of its 14.1-acre site on Queen Lane.

In return, council members expressed some concerns about parking on the streets surrounding the campus, said Tom Sauerman, EFCC president.

The meeting was the second of three public discussion sessions planned as part of a year-long land use study ongoing among the EFCC, the city planning office, and the neighborhood’s three biggest educational institutions. William Penn Charter School presented its plans on March 10, and a similar meeting will take place with Philadelphia University on Apr. 12.

Currently, a total of about 575 students in Drexel’s College of Medicine, most first and second year students, study at the Queen Lane campus. The location, bounded by streets, railroad tracks and city-owned property, makes significant expansion unlikely, Sauerman said.

“They’re fairly well boxed in,” he said. “There’s not much opportunity for them to expand, nor do they have the desire to.”

One area of concern was parking by students on residential streets, including some who may park at the Queen Lane site, then catch a Drexel shuttle to its main campus, Sauerman said.

A large open green space at the front of the property, which has become a sort of front lawn for students there, will be maintained and the school will continue efforts to use sustainable energy and green building techniques, said Matt Wysong, the city’s Northwest Philadelphia community planner.

All in all, the neighborhood’s relationship with Drexel has been one of mutual benefit, with the university providing jobs, visible security, a well-maintained site and students who are active in community service programs in the East Falls area, said Roger Marsh, EFCC’s vice president.

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What I found with all of these meetings is that people in the neighborhood often don’t know a lot about these institutions,” Marsh said. “In return, the institutions have said they often want to communicate with area residents but don’t always know how.”

East Falls residents are invited to join a tour of the Drexel Queen Lane campus at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26.

Contact the reporter at aquinn@planphilly.com

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