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CAPS will relocate to an office at 3624 Market St., shown here in a preliminary rendering by the architect that will design the new office space.

Credit: Courtesy of Max King

Counseling and Psychological Services will relocate to the first floor of 3624 Market St. in January 2015.

CAPS will move over winter break next school year and has signed a 15-year lease at the new location, according to a University announcement Tuesday morning.

The move, necessitated by plans to build the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics at the building at 36th and Walnut streets, where CAPS is currently housed, has been the subject of speculation among students this semester. The new site will net CAPS 25 percent more total square footage, according to an email sent out by Associate Vice Provost Max King, including a 300 percent increase in space available for group therapy.

“If it’s the same number of clinicians in a bigger space, it’s not an improvement,” said College junior and Penn Undergraduate Health Coalition member Elana Stern, who learned of the move through King’s email. She said she was glad, though, that there was finally an announcement on the location.

The Market Street building was the only building close enough to campus that met the space needs of CAPS, King said. The building gives CAPS the option of expanding its office space in upcoming years.

CAPS Director Bill Alexander, who was not closely involved with the moving process, said the new building has its fair share of pros and cons.

“If there’s an issue, it might be location. In terms of the place itself, it’s a lot nicer and bigger than what we have now,” he said. A potential plus of the location, he added, was giving students seeking help at CAPS anonymity.

Penn Undergraduate Health Coalition Chair and College sophomore Julie Bittar, too, thought the move was overall an improvement.

“Compared to the current space, it’s a big step up,” she said. “And students walking over can just say they’re going to Student Health.”

King, Alexander and others involved in the transition are in the early stages of meeting with Strada, the Philadelphia architecture firm overseeing the renovation to tailor the space to CAPS’ needs. The building is already set to have larger offices, and the waiting area will be configured so passersby will not be able to see in.

“We don’t have a room big enough to seat all our staff, let alone our workshops,” Alexander said of CAPS’ current location. “It’ll be nice to have rooms large enough to have groups of students.” He also aims to improve CAPS’ technology in the transition.

King denied earlier reports that the administration was considering moving CAPS into the same building as Student Health Service at 3535 Market St. Alexander, however, said that they may have hoped to put it in the SHS building but could not find empty space.

Other occupants of 3624 Market St. include the Division of Sleep Medicine, Human Resources and School of Arts and Sciences business offices. The first-floor suite’s current tenant, rehabilitation and physical therapy provider Penn Partners Good Shepherd, will relocate to 3737 Market St.

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