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Penn and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania have entered into a five-year partnership to expand revitalization efforts in the University City area, University officials announced yesterday.

The details of the $28.5 million development plan will be revealed this afternoon at a press conference in City Hall, which will be attended by Citizens Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Steinour, Mayor John Street and University President Judith Rodin.

According to a statement released by University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman, the partnership will involve a "comprehensive strategy for continuing the revitalizing of this economically important area of Philadelphia."

The strategy to revitalize will involve upgrading housing in University City, expanding business opportunities and strengthening the capacity of community organizations.

The partnership will bring together long-standing area institutions, neighborhood organizations and non-profit agencies in the revitalization effort, according to the statement.

Citizens Bank, which has a branch located on 34th Street between Walnut and Sansom streets, is the second-largest commercial bank in New England with nearly 800 branches. Last year, the company bought the assets of Mellon Bank for $2.1 billion and now has more than 300 branches located across the state of Pennsylvania, as well as locations in New Jersey and Delaware.

Holtzman said the partnership between the two parties came about when the company approached the University late last year about possible community investments.

"They were looking for opportunities or partners to enable them to establish community development projects," Holtzman said. "They have made an ongoing commitment... to go out into the cities where they are headquartered and find communities that would benefit from their investment."

Holtzman added that Penn's long-standing connection to University City and the resources that the bank can provide have made this investment possible.

"In talking to Penn, they saw that we have such a long-term commitment and engagement with the community, and they thought it would be a really good match," she said.

Citizens Bank officials would not comment, deferring all questions to today's press conference.

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