PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Chinatown is set for a heated meeting Wednesday night when more than 20 organizations hold a public meeting at the Sixers’ proposed arena, 76 Place. The public event is held at the Ocean Harbor Restaurant will also be live streamed.

Allen Lynn is a huge fan of both the Philadelphia Suns and the Sixers.

“I love the 76ers,” he said.

The Suns, coached by Lin, are Chinatown’s basketball team. Now the Sixers are proposing to build their new arena in the Sun’s backyard.

“We think it’s a really great opportunity, not just for the organization, not just for the team, but for the city,” said David Gould of 76 DevCorp.

But it won’t be a slam dunk.

Although the proposed site is located at one of the busiest transportation hubs, and the developers promise to revitalize the area while preserving the integrity of Chinatown, convincing the community will not be easy.

“It’s definitely going to have a bad effect on Chinatown,” Lin said.

Many in Chinatown agree.

Howland Tsui is a member of AAU, Asian Americans United, whose youth and founding members are working to preserve Chinatown and fight against 76 Place.

When Cui was asked what Chinatown means to him, he said, “It’s a place where I can connect with my friends and my culture.”

“I come to Chinatown at least twice, maybe three times a week. I usually have dinner here with my family or we go grocery shopping,” Celine To said.

To and others AAU youth surveyed 700 people in Chinatown about Chinatown.

“And we learned that not many people know the boundaries of Chinatown,” Toh said.

Or that the borders are shrinking.

“They built a suburban tunnel that kind of cut through Chinatown,” Toh said.

“People don’t realize that fighting for justice in this particular community is a tradition,” said Debbie Way.

Wei is a founding member of the AAU and is now passing on the tradition to other youth who say they are concerned the arena could cause problems from parking to pricing to the current community.

“Putting the 76ers stadium there will destroy a lot of Chinese and local businesses here in Chinatown,” Cui said.

“I know it’s not only going to cause even more congestion, but it’s going to be, it’s not going to be as safe as it was before,” Toh said.

“I live in Chinatown myself and I’ve been to a lot of other Chinatowns, especially in D.C. … and I’ve seen how the stadium has affected their Chinatowns,” said Susie Lin, also of AAU.

Suzy is talking about what is now Capitol One Arena. After it was built right in Washington’s Chinatown, the community grew from 3,000 residents to 300.

Action News caught up with Wei and the others as they headed to Washington in September. Wei recalled Chinatown’s long fight against development, including a successful one against the Phillies’ new stadium in 2000.

“Then in 2008 when they announced the casino, we redid the stadium, put in the casino and had new jerseys,” she said. “Wearing this T-shirt gives me a certain amount of strength, a certain amount of hope.”

Action News took Chinatown’s latest woes directly to 76 DevCorp’s David Gould this week, who pledged to develop responsibly and fairly.

“We are putting forward a proposal that avoids all the pitfalls of past development proposals and is designed in a way that, in partnership with community stakeholders, can deliver a net positive outcome,” he said.

“A lot of people draw parallels between Washington and Philadelphia,” Action News’ Nydia Khan told Gould.

“We want to learn from the mistakes made in such a project. And to make sure it’s the other way around, that it’s actually something that uplifts and helps sustain the community, rather than threatening it and shrinking it,” he said.

“What makes 76 Place different?” Khan asked.

“Well, one of them is that we’re not developing in the community. We’re developing on Market Street, so it’s not a project that’s in Chinatown,” Gould said.

Gould also told me that 76 DevCorp is aware of and working on other issues.

“We’re taking a very focused approach to really learn from the community to figure out how to put together a proposal that could benefit the neighborhood,” he said. “It could be building new affordable housing, which could be various business grant and loan programs. We will carry out a study and plan for traffic and parking so that we can show how we are mitigating the potential negative impacts.”

But Chinatown leaders accuse the organization of a lack of transparency so far.

“There was very, very little information,” said John Chin of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

“Did you know about 76 Place before the public announcement in July,” Khan asked Chin.

“They came to us,” he said. “That was about two days before they made a public statement.”

“People in Chinatown were stunned by the announcement, and first impressions matter,” Khan posed to Guldu.

“We certainly meant no disrespect,” he said. “We met with a number of community groups right before the announcement that really, once we were there, we were able to do it.”

“We know it’s a really important cultural center, not only for the people who live and work there, but for the broader Chinese and Chinese American diaspora throughout the region,” Gould said.

But Chinatown leaders say that just last week, 76 DevCorp tried to insert a clause into the City Council bill to pave the way forward.

“It’s kind of a miracle we even caught it,” Wei said. “They have not earned our trust at all.”

The Sixers say the language was included “unintentionally.”

“It was a mistake,” Gould said.

DevCorp promised to explain and listen at the first public meeting of its kind on Project 76 Wednesday night.

“Certainly, we’ll be listening. And that’s really been our goal,” Gould said.

It’s sure to get ears.

“I feel like if we lose Chinatown here in Philly, then a big part of me will just disappear,” Cui said.

“I think it’s up to us to save all of Chinatown, and maybe in the future as well,” Susie said.

Wei says it’s not just about the future of Chinatown, but the city as a whole.

“We’re not used to being identified by place anymore, but it’s the lifeblood of what makes cities important, what makes communities important,” she said.

“Honestly, I’m not ready to say goodbye,” Lin said.

A Chinatown Steering Committee is currently in place to serve as a liaison between the community and 76 DevCorp and is exploring a community benefit agreement. The committee will hold several public town halls. The AAU is not part of the steering committee.

Action News did ask Gould if another location is possible at this time, and the response was that the current site is the only option he is considering right now.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved.

Source link

Previous articleAccused Paul Pelosi intruder to go to trial, judge rules – Trentonian
Next articlePresident Biden watches the France-Morocco World Cup semi-final with the Prime Minister of Morocco