Four high-profile groups are warning of unwanted side effects created by a proposed Philadelphia 76ers Chinatown arena, saying the development would lead to unwanted gentrification and eliminate the unique nature of the neighborhood.
The 76ers ownership, in partnership with a local developer, have proposed a $1.3 billion arena at the Philadelphia Fashion District at 10th and Market Streets. Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment (HBSE), owner of the 76ers, is partnering with Philadelphia business leader David Adelman on the project. They’ve created a joint venture, 76 Devcorp, to oversee the project, set to be constructed on a portion of the current site of Fashion District Philadelphia, serving as an anchor to Center City.
Chinatown is an adjacent neighborhood, and the concern is that the arena development would price local businesses out of their long-term home and drive up rents–the traditional downsides of gentrification. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
In a statement published Thursday morning in the Chinese-language Metro Chinese Weekly, which is owned by committee cochair Dan Tsao, the group noted threats pressuring Chinatown — unaffordable housing, crime, a lack of public spaces, and the post-pandemic squeeze on the community’s hundreds of small businesses — and added that “the proposed 76ers arena will exacerbate these issues and lead to the demise of Chinatown,” if it were built “without intervention and involvement” by a broad population of Chinatown people.
To start that intervention and involvement, the groups have been meeting with Sixers arena developer David Adelman and his team and are now setting up the committee to “ensure that Chinatown remains a vibrant resident and business district, a hub of cultural celebration,” and a sanctuary for low-income immigrants who speak little English, the statement says.
Currently the four groups are not endorsing or condemning the project, preferring instead to study the issue and pledging to bring in urban-planning experts. Others aren’t as convinced of the need to study the issue.
The team currently plays at Wells Fargo Center but has indicated several times that a new arena is in the 76ers’ long-term plans.