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In an effort to direct West Philadelphia toward future growth and development, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission has issued a comprehensive plan to be used by decision-makers involved in neighborhood revitalization and economic development. The Plan for West Philadelphia is a "non-binding guide for growth, development and change," according to Richard Redding, a West Philadelphia planner at the City Planning Commission. "Our staff is constantly engaged in planning projects and neighborhood studies," Redding said. "We are working with neighborhood groups to provide planning services." The plan, which was published in 1994, includes specific recommendations made by the commission toward strengthening the residential and business sectors of West Philadelphia. "Only some of the recommendations will be implemented," Redding said. The plan's recommendations for the University City area include eastward expansion of the University toward the Schuylkill River and commercial revitalization on South 40th Street. It also calls for redevelopment of the Market Street corridor between 40th and 46th streets and development of an area-wide street vendor policy. Redding declined to comment on updates of some specific recommendations in the University City neighborhood. But he pointed out that improvement is ongoing for the 40th Street border of the University campus. "For example, the 40th Street edge could be revitalized and better utilized," Redding said. "Current improvements are consistent with our recommendations. "Development is also ongoing at 46th and Market streets," Redding said. "This happened more quickly because of our plan." Redding said the plan was not designed to be updated. "The district plan is a statement of goals for the area," Redding said. "Gradually, projects in the neighborhood should form as a result of the plan." Redding said ultimate realization of the plan's goals depend on the persuasiveness of the recommendations and fiscal constraints. "West Philadelphia is a vital, richly textured community," the plan reads. "Residents share many experiences -- shopping at 52nd Street, driving between the support columns of the Market-Frankford El, participating in community meetings or school functions. "Some West Philadelphia neighborhoods suffer the same ills that affect other older urban areas," the plan continues. "Over the last several decades there has been a substantial loss of middle class population, widespread poverty and deteriorating infrastructure." The plan also stimulated residential construction projects in the Mantua and Belmont neighborhoods. The commission's recommendations helped initiate a residential project which receives substantial funding from both the private and public sector. Philanthropist James Brown has helped finance the project -- which restores residential mansions on Parkside Avenue -- with the support of public subsidies. Redding called the plan a step in the right direction. "I feel that more will get done in improving West Philadelphia with this plan than without it," he said. The first plan for West Philadelphia was published in 1964. Two preliminary plans for the most recent plan were issued for revision between 1990 and 1994.

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