District at a Glance:
For the first time in 60 years, Lower North Philadelphia has grown. After losing over 60 percent of its population, Lower North gained 147 people from 2000 to 2010. This is a small but positive change. Population in some areas is growing while other areas continue to shrink. This large population loss has led to 345 acres of vacant land, almost four thousand vacant buildings, and struggling commercial districts.
Key assets include residents dedicated to their neighborhoods, schools and churches willing to invest, and roughly $1.6 billion in public and private development in the last ten years.
Top planning issues include:
Unemployment, the lack of access to jobs, and the lack of income to support the kinds of retail that residents prefer.
Uneven growth has led some areas to face rebuilding and its related traffic and safety issues, while other areas struggle to attract investment.
Temple University is the district’s biggest economic engine. Its rapid expansion, while contributing to the employment base, has also led to conflicts with neighbors over on-street parking, density, and the scale of new buildings. Most private sector development has consisted of housing for students, generating issues with code enforcement and parking.
Many informal solutions to vacancy have appeared including gardens, parking, business expansion and keeping livestock.
Reliance on subsidies for new housing raises questions about creating or perpetuating concentrations of poverty.