Parting with Penndel

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The Penndel Apartments, which had previously served Bucks County residents as the Concorde Apartments prior to the University’s purchase in 1979, officially re-entered the commercial housing market on June 28.

With the on-campus Manor Residence Halls and Heritage Hall able to house the entire undergraduate student body at full capacity, the aging, off-campus facilities were no longer needed for student housing. Instead, the buildings will be renovated and reopened to the public as an expansion of the adjacent Mill Creek Village Apartments, owned and operated by Westover Companies.

“I am sure some students and alumni will experience bittersweet emotions at the news of this sale,” wrote President Dr. Todd Williams in a June email announcing the sale. “[The site] has enjoyed a long and storied tradition.” However, he continued, “this sale is an opportunity for us as an institution. Not only will we enjoy the financial benefits of this transaction, but the infusion of more students onto campus will add significant energy to campus life and community.”

Located about a half-mile from the Langhorne campus, the Penndel Apartments have served residential students since the university’s relocation from Center City Philadelphia in 1979. At the time, Trustee Dr. Francis Brown ’80 said that “the board views off-campus dormitory housing as a temporary measure that is to be corrected by on-campus dormitories as soon as possible, probably within three to five years.” By the time five new residence halls had been constructed in the early 1990s, though, the board’s original timeline of just half a decade was long overshot. The apartments were retained even through the 2005 purchase of the Brighton at Lakeside assisted living facility on the south edge of campus, transformed in 10 short weeks into today’s Heritage Hall. However, a master facility plan completed in 2007 pinpointed the sale of Penndel and construction of new housing as one of the University’s highest priorities.

Over the past decade, employees and trustees have continued to express the desirability of the efficiency and energy brought to campus culture through increased use of on-campus housing. As the University finally transitions to all on-campus housing, the Penndel Apartments will be remembered for their unique niche as the University’s oldest (and only off-campus) student housing. Although its lettered buildings separated residents by gender, the site is perhaps best known for its flexible co-ed visiting hours, as well as its open lounges and basement kitchens. Heritage Hall and the five Manor Residence Halls now house all 460 resident students.

As the student body continues to grow and the University moves forward with its master facility plan, construction of a new residence hall is on the horizon. “Penndel has served us well,” Williams says. “However, I see the sovereign hand of God in this transaction. From the inquiry of such an enthusiastic buyer, management of the details of the transaction, transition of student housing, and a price beyond what we ever imagined the property would be worth, the sale has been a tremendous blessing from the Lord.”