Chinatown Residents Imagine a Future Without the Sixers Arena


Philadelphia’s Chinatown is a vibrant and diverse community that has been resisting predatory development for decades. The latest threat to its existence is the proposed 76 Place, a $1.3 billion basketball arena for the Sixers that would be built less than a block away from the neighborhood’s iconic gateway arch. The arena’s developers claim that it would bring economic benefits and opportunities to the area, but many Chinatown residents and advocates fear that it would disrupt and displace the community, as well as increase traffic, pollution, and noise.


A Community Workshop to Envision Alternatives

In response to the arena proposal, the Save Chinatown Coalition, an alliance of 245 organizations from Chinatown and around the city, organized a public workshop on Jan. 27 to brainstorm alternative uses for the site. The workshop was facilitated by faculty and students from the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture and city planning graduate programs, who used traditional and new design tools, such as artificial intelligence, to visualize the community members’ ideas in real-time.

The workshop participants expressed their hopes and dreams for the site, which included more green space, more local businesses, a new public plaza where farmers markets or night markets could take place, and new educational facilities, such as a library. The workshop gave them a chance to think beyond what they are fighting against and renew their sense of what they are fighting for.

A History of Resistance and Resilience

The workshop was not the first time that Chinatown residents have mobilized to protect their neighborhood from unwanted development. Over the past three decades, they have successfully fought off proposals for a baseball stadium and a casino in or near the neighborhood, as well as a highway expansion that would have cut through the heart of Chinatown. These victories have shown the strength and solidarity of the community, as well as its ability to create positive change.

For example, after the highway project was canceled, Chinatown residents and advocates worked with the city to transform the vacant land into a park, a school, and a community center. These facilities have become vital assets for the neighborhood, providing recreation, education, and social services for its residents, especially the low-income, immigrant, and elderly populations.

A Future That Honors Chinatown’s Culture and Identity

The Save Chinatown Coalition hopes that the workshop will inspire more people to join their campaign against the arena and to support their vision for a future that honors Chinatown’s culture and identity. The coalition argues that the arena would not only harm the neighborhood but also the city as a whole, as Chinatown is a valuable part of Philadelphia’s history and diversity.

The coalition also questions the legitimacy and transparency of the arena’s development process, which has been marked by secrecy, exclusion, and misinformation. The coalition demands that the city and the developers listen to the voices of the community and consider their alternative proposals for the site, which they believe would benefit not only Chinatown but also the entire city.

The coalition plans to continue its outreach and advocacy efforts, as well as collaborate with other groups and allies who share their concerns and goals. The coalition invites anyone interested in learning more or getting involved to visit their website, sign their petition, and attend their events.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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