Sixers stadium plan faces new Chinatown opposition
A faction of Philadelphia's Chinatown leaders is splintering off to form a new coalition aimed at blocking the 76ers' arena proposal.
Why it matters: The Chinatown community has a long history of fending off large-scale development projects, including a 2000 bid to build a new Phillies stadium at 12th and Vine Streets.
- The coalition, led in part by defectors from a committee of Chinatown leaders formed last month, could be a major barrier to the Sixers in their quest to open an arena in the neighboring Fashion District by 2031.
Driving the news: The group today plans to unveil findings from a survey of Chinatown residents and stakeholders that they say shows widespread opposition to the $1.3 billion proposal.
- The coalition is backed by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a powerful civil rights group that leaders say has helped oppose "predatory" development projects in several East Coast cities.
Catch up fast: The 76ers, which announced the stadium plan in July, have since held several information sessions with Chinatown residents to listen to and address concerns.
- In November, more than 200 Philadelphia Chinese Community Organization United members gathered with Sixers leadership to discuss the plan. That same month, hundreds protested against the development.
- A committee made up of Chinatown business leaders and groups formed in December to evaluate the project's potential effects on the neighborhood. They've chosen to remain neutral.
What they're saying: Steven Zhu, a member of the new opposition group, tells Axios he fears a "devastating" impact on Chinatown, citing concerns about increased traffic, public safety, rising rental costs for small businesses and displacement of residents who have lived there for generations.
- "You have a 170-year history in Chinatown. You need people for Chinatown to survive. People won't come to the businesses. It's not easy to get in and get out," he said.
Bethany Li, of AALDEF, tells Axios every option is on the table, including potentially filing litigation against the 76ers and the city to halt the proposal.
- "Boots-on-the-ground efforts have been successful in many cities. The work the coalition is doing is incredibly important to make sure Philadelphia is the type of city residents want to live in," she said.
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