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Powelton Village is located in West Philadelphia. Credit: Avi Singh

Philadelphia approved Powelton Village — located in West Philadelphia around Drexel University’s campus — as a historic district, protecting its buildings from demolition.

Powelton Village, which is the largest area given that designation since 2003, has recently seen demand from Drexel for more off-campus student housing. Now that it has been given the historic district designation, its buildings will be protected from further demolition and exterior modification, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

“[The council's efforts are] a response to the development boom in the city, where neighbors are alarmed by the threat to the historic character of their neighborhoods,” Paul Steinke, executive director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, told the Inquirer. 

The area is known for its Victorian architecture and is overseen by the Powelton Village Civic Association, which is “dedicated to making Powelton Village a better place to live and work.”

Legislation from the city of Philadelphia had previously created a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay for the area as part of the Philadelphia zoning code and set standards for new developments in an effort to preserve the architectural style of Powelton Village. 

According to the Inquirer, the number of historic districts in Philadelphia has almost doubled over the course of the last five years, but Powelton Village is the largest area to become one since part of Old City was given that title in 2003. 

Even though the historic preservation of this area is generally supported, the move is facing some backlash from people in the area, the Inquirer reported. Some homeowners opposed the designation due to perceived differences between the priorities of the Powelton Village Civic Association and those of the neighborhood itself.

George Poulin, co-chair of Powelton Village Civic Association’s zoning committee, told the Inquirer that the Association is already attempting to establish protections similar to those given to Powelton Village for areas like Spruce Hill and Garden Court.