Temple University’s crew and rowing teams are one step closer to having a near-permanent home on Boathouse Row.
On Tuesday, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan for the East Park Canoe House to undergo $5.5 million in renovations and to allow the North Philadelphia-based college to lease the Boathouse Row site, located on Kelly Drive just south of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, for 20 years with two 10-year renewal options.
The latest step comes nearly 15 weeks after the school’s Board of Trustees chose to save men’s crew and women’s rowing, allowing the two teams to continue as varsity sports despite getting the ax in December 2013.
The board chose to reverse their decision after Mayor Michael Nutter and Temple University President Neil Theobald announced a restoration and renovation plan for East Park Canoe House, which was condemned in 2008.
Since then, the men’s crew and women’s rowing team operated out of tents along the Schuylkill River.
The city partnered with the Lenfest Foundation, established by Temple Trustee Gerry Lenfest and his wife Marguerite, to fund the overhaul, which includes renovated public restrooms, office and storage space for the Marine Police, and new lockers and boat storage for the teams.
The Lenfest Foundation pledged $3.0 million towards the refurbishment and the city promised another $2.5 million.
While the parties involved expect the funding to be sufficient, the ordinance approved at the Tuesday meeting notes: “The City is not liable to [Temple University] if the total renovation funding is insufficient to complete the renovations as the City initially bids the work.”
If it becomes apparent throughout construction -- expected to last 12 to 18 months when Nutter made the February announcement-- that the cost of the makeover will exceed the allotted $5.5 million, then Philly and Temple will “consult about changing the scope or nature of the renovation or both,” the ordinance says.
Under the approved lease terms, Temple would be responsible for maintaining the premises once they move in to the space.
The conditions also show the school will host and operate two week-long summer rowing camps for a total of 100 middle school students, who will also get a chance to participate in Experience Temple -- a series of ten programs held throughout the school year that provide educational support to the campers while exposing them to Temple's facilities.
The ordinace will now go before City Council for final approval.