Wednesday, May 8, 2013

University City ... meet "Drexification"

Long-term details for Drexel's "Campus Master Plan."

Back in 2009, Philadelphia Weekly did a story on the changing residential/commercial/educational scene in University City.

They called it "Penntrification."

But isn't new development, with additional retail, a good thing for Philadelphia? My answer would be yes, but this one has layers.

New development, good.

New commercial, good.

More jobs, good.

More students coming to Philadelphia for a first class education, good.

Small businesses suffering at the hands of larger corporations, bad.

Now, we can argue this subject all day, but I do believe that smaller business are typically on the losing end when larger, franchise-y businesses move in. Just look at Walmart, if you need a good, widely known example.

Again, my personal opinion.

On the flip side, I'm also a firm believer in "if it ain't broker, break it." Businesses that choose not to change, just for the sake of fearing change, typically have a hard time surviving these days. Today, the level of change needed to keep a small business healthy will vary from one to the next, but overall all small businesses should constantly be looking at ways to improve their general business model. Whether that's new sales revenue, higher customer service, or better curb appeal, having a fresh look for a small business is critical to keeping today's customer loyal. That's because the common expectation is, "What have you done for me lately?"

Drexel is now taking a page from Penn's book and planning ahead with an updated "Campus Master Plan." Most of what they are planning over the next few years seems very reasonable, and it should improve the neighborhood (i.e. new planters/benches, upgrades to existing buildings, etc).

But if Penntrification was any lesson to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexification will need to plan a little better for the long haul if they want to see their plans through; without interference.

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