The 40th and Walnut streets area may take on a different character in the coming years as University officials plan a "new direction" for the block of 40th Street between Locust and Walnut. University Police officials announced in September that they would relocate operations -- currently located across from High Rise North on Locust Walk -- to a facility to be constructed on the parking lot at 40th and Walnut streets. They said the increased visibility of the police department on the troubled corner could help deter future incidents. In addition, administrators are negotiating with the Free Library of Philadelphia and McDonald's Restaurant -- both on corners of 40th and Walnut streets -- to move them into the multi-story facility. Van de velde said last week that a mutual exchange of property could be beneficial for all parties involved. He added that McDonald's 24-hour operations policy contributes to creating an unsafe environment. Talks between McDonald's and the University have included a drive-thru proposal which van de Velde said may be more attractive to the restaurant than remaining open all night. But van de Velde stressed that officials are only discussing such an exchange, adding that no decisions have been made. Sandra Viddy, head librarian of the Free Library of Philadelphia's 40th and Walnut streets branch, said yesterday that she does not care whether the library relocates or not. Viddy said problems that continually cropped up during the library's three-year closing have been solved, and that she has noticed a "tremendous difference" in the facility's attractiveness since its reopening in August. McDonald's Restaurant officials could not be reached for comment. Associate Vice President for Business Services Steven Murray said last week that Penn Mail Service may relocate to the new facility, adding that operations have outgrown their alloted space in the Franklin Building. The new facility, which is not expected to be completed until 1992, is part of a sweeping effort by the University to reshape the character of the 40th Street area. Van de Velde said that officials are negotiating an agreement of sale for the University City Shopping Center -- the block of shops between Locust and Walnut streets which includes Marty's Dollar Worth and Smokey Joe's -- and are studying ways to create an area that "positively contributes to the tone and character of campus." Van de Velde said officials hope to "clean up" the physical appearance of the block, adding that the block does not appear safe and welcoming to students. "40th Street is a little on the unsavory side," van de Velde said. "It's not one of the all-time attractive commercial strips." He added that officials will also look at limiting the number of vendors along the sidewalk and at the mix of merchants along the block. Officials would decide whether the stores are assets to the community or whether other stores would better serve the area. But van de Velde said there is no "wholesale reorganization of space planned." He said officials hope to alleviate crime concerns by improving the lighting and general appearance of the area. "You cannot change the behavior exclusively by changing the physical setting," he said. "But there's no question that when the place looks like it's blighted and derelict, that atmosphere increases the number of problems."Comments powered by Disqus
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