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Temple gets green light to tear down former William Penn High building

Temple University plans to keep the main building of the former William Penn High School and knock down the rest to create athletic fields. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Temple University plans to keep the main building of the former William Penn High School and knock down the rest to create athletic fields. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Planning Commission has given Temple University permission to tear down the vacant William Penn High building on North Broad Street.

In its place, Temple plans another structure, but exactly what it will be the school isn’t ready to say.

“There are ideas. And there’s nothing that’s publicly known,” said Tom McCreesh, Temple’s director of facilities. “There’s still a lot of talk, but that’s all.”

Temple spokesman Ray Beltzer said the university will definitely use the new building to house some community job-training programs – part of a plan that was first discussed when Temple bought the William Penn campus last year.

McCreesh said that any chance of using the existing buildings on the William Penn campus for job training or anything else was scuttled once the Temple team got in and had a good look.

“Right now, they are not usable for us in their present state, so it’s been determined that they have to come down,” he said.

Beltzer also says that despite rumors, the site won’t be used to build a new football stadium. “Football is not to be played on that property,” he said.

The university also won the commission’s approval for a handful of other expansion projects, including a new library and additions to other buildings, as part of its campus master plan. But while Temple has the green light to start tearing down the William Penn building soon – McCreesh said the demolition will begin “shortly” – the university will have to return to the planning commission for approval when it’s ready to unveil its plans for the high school site.

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