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July 29, 2017

$76 million Chinatown tower another step closer to development

Reports: 20-story skyscraper planned for 10th and Vine to break ground in September

Development Funding
102316_chinatown_wolf @GovernorTomWolf/Twitter

This file photo shows Gov. Tom Wolf speaking about the planned Eastern Tower Community Center in Chinatown.

A planned tower marketed as a potential way to revitalize and "reconnect" Philadelphia's Chinatown neighborhood took a step toward development this week.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday that the Commonwealth Cornerstone Group had completed a $9 million New Markets Tax Credit financing transaction that will help finance the Eastern Tower Community Center, a mixed-use skyscraper planned for the northwest corner of 10th and Vine streets.

The move also marks the last of the $76 million needed to fund the project, according to Curbed Philly. The site reported that developers are set to begin development on the 20-story tower in September.

A Facebook page for the local donor group Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle of Greater Philadelphia also posted a picture on Facebook Saturday of a "mini groundbreaking event" held for the long-awaited project. That post also stated the project is set to break ground in September.

Planned with co-developer JNA Capital, a Philadelphia urban mixed-use developer, the project includes a 15,000-square-foot community and recreation center along with 21,000 square feet of office space and 8,500 feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Plans also include a green roof and 150 residential units on the upper floors.

The project could include a convenience store, a restaurant, a coffee and tea shop, a pre-school and a medical practice, according to a press release from state officials.

The tower has reportedly been in the works since 2011. But the group behind the tower, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, first envisioned a mixed-use community, event and public recreation space on the northwest corner of 10th and Vine streets more than a decade ago, according to the release.

Work at the site has been awaited for years as the PCDC tried to secure funding for the project, according to Curbed Philly.

In October 2016, state officials announced a $1.3 million grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to help fund the community center. Construction was set to begin in late 2016 and finish construction by late 2017, but work never got underway.

Officials have touted the project as a way to reconnect a part of the neighborhood that was essentially split in half by the construction of the Vine Street Expressway.

Wolf called the project “exciting” for that reason, along with the community center’s potential to offer new commercial and recreational options for Chinatown families.

Officials said the project could create 371 construction jobs. After crews finish work on the building, officials expect to retain 19 full-time positions and open 52 new full-time positions, according to the state.

The PCDC was formed in 1966 as a grassroots, nonprofit organization to promote Chinatown. The project's construction manager is Hunter Roberts Construction Group, a local firm that constructed the 35-story high-rise at 2116 Chestnut St. and Drexel University's $81 million Chestnut Square Project.