April 12, 2023
The developers of the proposed Sixers arena at 10th and Market streets have touted one major selling point over and over again: It's self-funded, so it won't cost city residents any money.
But that doesn't mean the city isn't involved.
On Wednesday afternoon, the mayor's office announced it will conduct an independent evaluation into the "impact, opportunities and challenges posed by" the arena plan, which has drawn fire from Chinatown residents and businesses who say the Sixers development encroaches on their neighborhood and ultimately will displace them.
"We recognize and appreciate that the 76ers proposal has generated significant attention across the city," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "While it’s an exciting opportunity, we must understand the impact it may have on the surrounding communities before any plans move forward."
Kenney said the study will explore urban planning and building design, as well as impacts on traffic, parking, the nearby community and economy. He did not specify who would lead the evaluations, saying only that city and public agency partners would be involved, along with third party consultants, "in the coming months."
City Hall also urged the Sixers' development team, 76 Devcorp, to involve residents and business owners affected by the plans involved in the process.
"For the project to move forward, it is imperative that the development team ensure the project works for the surrounding communities affected by this proposed arena," Kenney said.
A 76 Devcorp spokesperson said the organization is "fully supportive of the analysis and looks forward to collaborating with city leadership."
Chinatown community members likewise welcomed the announcement, but asked the city to share its method for selecting consultants.
"Given the bad faith actions and secrecy of arena developers since they announced their proposal, we are glad to see the City taking steps to perform necessary due diligence on this project and get a full picture of how an arena would impact Chinatown, surrounding neighborhoods, and Philly as a whole," Neeta Patel, interim executive director of Asian Americans United, said in a release.
The proposed Sixers arena was a frequent topic of discussion during last night's mayoral debate. Former councilmember Helen Gym said it was "kind of trash that they (the Sixers) tried to buy one of the candidates," referencing an Inquirer report that the Sixers may have invested in For a Better Philadelphia, the super PAC currently under pending litigation for campaign finance violations. For a Better Philadelphia has poured money into Jeff Brown's mayoral bid.
David Adelman, one of the three principal developers behind the Sixers project, also was discussed when state Rep. Amen Brown asked Gym if she had recently met with Adelman. She did not deny the meeting, but claimed they did not "discuss the Sixers."
When FOX29 asked the candidates to show whether they supported the Center City arena plans by holding up a "yes" or "no" flashcard, only Jeff Brown and Amen Brown raised their "yes" cards. Most candidates declined to choose either; only Gym chose the "no" card.
This story has been updated with comments from 76 Devcorp and Asian Americans United.
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