SAVE CHINATOWN Campaign Update

SAVE CHINATOWN Campaign Update

Our Councilman Mark Squilla, because of Philadelphia’s “councilmanic prerogative,” is the kingpin on whether or not the new 76ers stadium gets the greenlight on being built at Market East. If he presents the legislation before the City Council, the other council people will vote in favor because they want their councilmanic prerogatives supported in return. And it’s often hard to stop development in our city when there are 3 billionaires who want to get something done. 

Aside from all the other drawbacks pointed out about the placement of a stadium overshadowing Chinatown (traffic, parking, dead zone most of the week, rising property values, access to Center City hospitals… and no Hahnemann Hospital since one of the 76 DevCorp Developers cynically closed it for the property underneath it, etc.), Councilman Squilla has consistently said the deal would not go forward if the Chinatown neighborhood was not in favor of it. Chinatown is 99% against the stadium, fearing that the stadium will cast a long shadow in their neighborhood and, as happened in Washington, D.C., be the end of our traditional Chinatown, and one of the last working class and small business neighbors in Center City. 

Until last Monday’s meeting with the SAVE CHINATOWN Coalition, when suddenly his tune changed and Squilla shared that “sometimes things happen that people don’t want.” 

The SAVE CHINATOWN Coalition has found out recently that he’s been meeting weekly with representatives from 76DevCorp (as has been the mayor’s office). We have also learned that the lawyers from 76DevCorp are meeting with City lawyers working on possible legislation. 

There is now concern that it might make sense politically for the city to push ahead on a divisive project like the 76ers Stadium this fall at the end of both the terms of Mayor Kenney and Council Chair Darrell Clarke. 

POWER has begun planning an assembly to meet with Councilman Squilla for Sunday afternoon, Sept. 24. The assembly will be preceded by an interfaith and multicultural march from St. Paul’s Baptist Church at 10th / Wallace  (Old First built that church in 1882, and sold it to St. Paul’s in 1916) to the Chinese Christian Church at 11th / Vine where Councilman Squilla will hear the case against the stadium and be asked to answer questions about the project. 

Mark your calendars. Perhaps Old Firsters want to grab an early dinner together in Chinatown afterwards…