HomeAsian Americans$159M grant will 'stitch' Philly's Chinatown back together

$159M grant will ‘stitch’ Philly’s Chinatown back together

A sunken expressway has long split Philadelphia’s Chinatown into two, but a $159 million federal grant will aim to ‘stitch’ them back together.

The grant will support the “The Chinatown Stitch” plan to reconnect Chinatown and Chinatown North with a three-block-long park over the Vine Street Expressway.

At a news conference, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said, per NBC Philadelphia, “We’re finally on the path of reconnecting Chinatown.”

Casey joined by Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Rep. Dwight Evans (PA-03), Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker, and Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation executive director John Chin announced the news Monday morning.

“We’re here today to announce funding to reconnect Chinatown decades after Chinatown residents suffered the consequences of harmful infrastructure decisions that divided their neighborhood,” Casey said.

Chin was “awestruck” at the project approval and is calling it a “transformative unlike any that Chinatown has experienced.”

“What it means is that you will no longer see this division, you will no longer notice that Chinatown is divided by a large wide boulevard,” Chin said, per Finance & Commerce. “It will shrink the boulevard, the highway will be capped underneath and no one will see it and it will create green space and community space and amenities that our community never had.”

Funding was made possible by a program that tries to rebuild communities hurt by infrastructure, Finance & Commerce reports. The funds have also been announced amidst Chinatown’s fight against the proposed new Philadelphia 76ers arena that is would be a block away.

“This would have happened with or without the arena proposal, because it is an intuitive to repair this damage,” Deborah Wei, an advocate against threatening Chinatown development projects said. “No one is being asked to take an arena in order to get it.”

Officials have not yet announced when the project is expected to be completed, but they anticipating to begin work in 2027. And, the grant should fund the entire project, NBC Philadelphia reports.

The announcement on Monday revealed their Two-Block Concept drawings. This concept would cap 10th and 11th Streets and 12th and 13th Streets. However, there would still be a gap between 11th and 12th Streets for cars to still access the expressway.

“Beyond covering the highway, the project will consist of green space on top of the cover, which may be complemented by traffic calming along the local Vine Street travel lanes, improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure on Vine Street adjacent to the cover, among other features improvements,” Casey said.

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