Community praise and concerns over Philly arena plan


Bringing a struggling trade corridor back to life

At the same time, city leaders widely praise the nascent proposal, which they say would be an economic boon for blocks comprising Market East, a commercial corridor that is struggling to reposition itself, even with developers investing millions .

“I don’t see how this project can be viewed negatively for the city,” said Mo Rushdy, vice president of Philadelphia’s construction industry.

In the 1920s, Market East was a bustling shopping district, with at times eight department stores, including Wanamakers and Strawbridge and Clothier.

But since the 1970s, the section has struggled to regain this importance, but not for lack of effort. The Gallery, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Fashion District, none of them helped bring the neighborhood back to life.

Paul Levy, longtime chairman of the Center City District, said a new basketball arena could be a catalyst for a lasting turnaround, in part because the project would likely attract new business and noticeably more foot traffic to the region.

“It’s not a panacea by any means. It’s not a silver bullet. It’s just one more significant use that gives us a lot of different activity and diversity in the city center, and that’s key to our future,” Levy said.

Involve the town hall

The proposed arena is expected to take years to complete. The development team, led by David Adelman, predicts the doors won’t open to fans until 2031, the year the Sixers’ lease expires at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

Long before construction begins, Adelman and the Sixers will work to secure support from nearby neighbours, the city council and the city’s zoning board, the independent body empowered to make legally binding decisions on developments. proposed to be built.

Rushdy said all of this could take at least two years and likely culminate in at least one community benefits agreement — a contract signed by a developer and usually a civic group that details how a project will positively impact the immediate. These agreements typically include provisions that address market, safety and traffic issues.

“It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a tough road because it’s a big job with a lot of impact. But in my opinion, this is something that, deeply, emotionally, the community stakeholders, the Council, anyone who wants good for the city and loves this city,” Rushdy said.

Council member Mark Squilla, whose district includes the proposed site, said he was excited about the prospect of the new arena, in large part because of its potential to be an economic engine for the region. He said he was also happy that the project should not require taxpayers’ money to complete.

“As long as there’s an open dialogue…I think it could be different,” Squilla said. “I’m optimistic.”

In a statement, Board Chairman Darrell Clarke echoed his colleague, saying a downtown arena offers “the promise and potential for significant economic opportunity,” while stressing that the Sixers need to be “transparent and sensitive to the real needs of the people who live and work in the neighborhoods near the proposed site.

“While I would have preferred to see the Sixers’ plans for a Delaware waterfront arena move forward, I believe we need to give this new proposal due consideration, consideration and due diligence. she deserves,” Clarke said.

Will the current nearby transit center be good enough?

The arena developers have no plans to add parking as part of the project, explaining on the 76 Place website that “We envision this project as a site that depends on public transit. … For those who chose to drive, the site is within a half-mile radius of 29 operating parking garages with significant spare capacity.

At this time, it is unclear whether the Sixers’ proposal would require SEPTA to complete any construction work underground.

Under or near the proposed arena site, 13 regional rail lines operate from Jefferson Station. There are also nearby stations for Broad-Ridge Spur, Broad Street Line, PATCO and Market-Frankford El, the ‘workhorse’ line the agency expects to carry the most fans to and from the games if the project is moving forward.

Spokesman Andrew Busch said the project timeline coincides with a 12-year capital improvement effort that includes station and track renovations, including stops along Market-Frankford El and the Broad. Street Line which are not currently accessible to the ADA.

SEPTA is also preparing to replace its entire fleet of railcars that serve the Market-Frankford line, he said.

“Looks like these will fit together really well,” Busch said of the planned upgrades and stadium proposal.


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