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As part of continuing attempts to move campus eastward, University administrators announced their decision yesterday to purchase City Hall, located at Broad and Market streets in Center City. The building -- which currently houses City Council, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's office, courtrooms and various government offices -- will become a new Wharton School building set to open in the spring of 2024. Construction will begin next week. "An Ivy League school really should not be located in West Philadelphia," University President Judith Rodin said. "It's time we get out of this place." Many were surprised that Rendell agreed to the $790 million deal. City Hall, a National Historic Landmark, has been the center of Philadelphia politics for more than a century. The building itself -- once the tallest in the city until a bunch of skyscrapers went up all around it -- is 510 feet high. The original building was designated by its founder, William Penn, to be the home of "publick concerns." But Rendell -- a 1965 College graduate -- said he is ready for a change of scenery, adding that as a Penn alumnus, it is "his duty" to aid the University in its expansion. "Penn and the city have a beautiful relationship, so I don't mind hooking the school up with a nice hunk of property," the mayor said. "Plus, this place is so darn ugly that I am ready to get out of here," he added. Rodin said City Hall will be razed and reconstructed to fit the new "Sansom Common image" of Penn. She detailed plans which included psychedelic, neon murals adorning the walls of the new, 15-story Wharton building. "Our facilities really just need to be more hip, funky and upscale," Rodin said at a press conference yesterday. Rodin refused to comment on where the funding for the city-wide expansion project was coming from, but suggested that this year's 4.5 percent tuition increase "would be put to use in some sort of revamping initiative." But University City residents were less than thrilled with the University's attempt to leave West Philadelphia, noting that Penn and its community cannot seem to foster an amicable relationship. "I just can't understand why Penn is always running away from its West Philly residents," said Joe Ruane, president of the Spruce Hill Community Association. "I think their recent decision to buy City Hall just shows how they do nothing to improve town-gown relations." Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Noah Bilenker agreed with Ruane, adding that he would refuse to take classes outside of West Philadelphia. College senior John La Bombard said that he had no opinion on the deal, but added that he was glad that Penn's desire for new property "didn't hit my penis."

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