Opponents from Philadelphia Chinatown who feared the city would fast-track plans for a new arena bordering their community received what they considered welcomed news.
Mayor Jim Kenney told the Philadelphia Inquirer the city would conduct an independent study on the impact of the arena proposed by the Philadelphia 76ers.
“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,” said Neeta Patel, interim executive director of Asian Americans United, in a statement emailed to AsAmNews.
However, while the mayor said more information would be needed to make a decision, he is optimistic about the project.
“I am very excited about the possibility of this kind of development in our downtown on East Market Street,” Kenney said to WHYY.
Residents of Chinatown fear the arena will bring traffic to their neighborhood, hurting local businesses. They also say pressure from rising rent caused by increased property values around the arena could force many of them out.
They point to the experiences of those from Washington, DC’s Chinatown. An arena for the NBA team there on the border of Chinatown decimated the neighborhood.
At a mayoral forum Wednesday night, three of the seven candidates took a public stance on the issue. Jeff Brown, who opponents say received a $250,000 campaign contribution, said he supported the arena. Brown said he did not know if the 76ers donated to his campaign and that it really wouldn’t matter, according to the Inquirer.
Former Councilmember Helen Gym said she would not support public subsidies for an area and would not support the project. Ex-City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart also said she did not support it.
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