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Dozens of concerned West Philadelphians assembled Monday night to debate the future of the city-owned parcel of land at 47th and Warrington streets. The vacant block is currently home to parking spaces and open green space.

At the Calvary Church and Community Center, at 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue, four proposed uses for the land were presented by different community groups during the course of the 90-minute meeting.

Among the proposals was a presentation by the University City New School -- an independent pre-K through 8 school housing approximately 115 students -- to construct a new building for the school. The planned Penn-assisted public school will be built at the University City New School's current 42nd and Locust streets location, leaving the institution without a home.

However, construction on the public school -- originally slated for a March 1 groundbreaking -- has yet to begin, leaving the University City New School unsure of how an altered construction schedule will affect their residency at the location.

"To try and find a property within University City to house our school was not an easy task," architect for the University City New School John Holland said in the school's presentation to the community.

Other organizations proposed turning the lot into housing for senior citizens, developing a mid-priced Italian eatery in the lot and using the block for gardens and open green space.

Cedar Park Neighbors President Roger Harmon, who owns the Palladium Restaurant located at 36th Street and Locust Walk, wants to build a restaurant in the lot since his lease will expire in the next several years.

"I'm tired of being on campus," he said. "And Baltimore Avenue needs more business."

While it is ultimately City Council's decision what to do with the land, which will be donated to a city-selected organization or business, former Cedar Park Neighbors President Todd Kovich said that city council is likely to adhere to the neighborhood's wishes.

"The City Council is looking for an endorsement from community organizations," Kovich explained.

He added that Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell asked that Cedar Park Neighbors hold a neighborhood meeting with the Squirrel Hill Community Association to get a sense of what the neighborhood wants to do with the land.

"Our community organization will support and promote the program that has the most broad-based support," Squirrel Hill Community Association President Frank Murphy said.

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