Billionaire Penn graduate and master holding-company investor Ronald Owen Perelman's $25 million gift to Penn to purchase the old West Philadelphia Trust Co. building at 36th and Walnut Sts. for the Economics and Political Science departments - raises some interesting questions the grateful university hasn't publicly addressed:
What happens to the current Economics office and classrooms at McNeil Hall, south of Locust Walk, and Political Science, in Steitler Hall nearby? Both are on the edge of the expansive Wharton complex.
Penn tells us the new site is in the "heart" of the campus. It is indeed south of, say, English House, or the Law School, and in line with the Bookstore. But it is also farther from the center of things. An older building, with a smaller footprint. Are those departments moving toward the margins?
"It's too early to answer your questions about the plans for Econ and political science," wrote back Penn spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman soothingly. "We are just announcing the gift. It's very early days on that and there are no other specifics yet."
No further comment from Penn, either, on the work that's already started on what sources tell me is a high-rise Penn student residence to be built by Georgia-based Crest Campus Communities at 3720 Chestnut St. on a site owned by Penn and developed by Brandywine Realty Trust, permitted for a 36-story tower. (More on site prep there at SkyscraperPage Forum here.)