Upcoming Events — Details Below
Feb 18 from 4-6pm @ Asian Arts Initiative (1219 Vine Street)
Feb 19 from 12-4pm in Chinatown
34 people – 6 from Old First – gathered 2 weeks ago for POWER Philly’s first zoom call about the proposed 76ers Stadium and opposition from Chinatown. Basically, the call was getting the background on the struggle from Chinatown leaders. POWER has been invited to partner with the broad based Save Chinatown coalition of 41 Chinatown organizations and the Asian American Legal Defense and Educators Fund.
Three wealthy developers – one of whom is the developer who bought and closed Hahnemann Hospital – are trying to make a claim on more prime Center City real estate that includes part of Chinatown, The Chinatown community has been quick, loud and clear about its opposition. They don’t want to cede more of their neighborhood to corporate development. They believe that the construction of a stadium between Market and Arch and 10th and 11the Streets will signal the end of Chinatown as it has been known.
People in the Chinatown community feel that there has been little respect for the historic uniqueness of their neighborhood or the strong reasons for its preservation. They have witnessed as other edges of the community have been used for other development projects. And they know that Chinatown as such only still exists because they have fought and one battles like this before. They fear that part of the problem is anti-Asian racism.
There is also concern that this site is not well-positioned for a stadium. That the construction itself and then traffic, emergency services and other demands on the surrounding streets and Center City as a whole afterwards are too much for the density of this part of the city.
There is also concern from the Chinatown Community that the Stadium project might actually be an indirect way of advancing gentrification over against one of Center City’s last working class neighborhoods. The concern is that it is a long term approach for moving Chinatown off prime real estate that could then become more expensive residential housing.
The developers are also promising “great economic benefits” from a downtown arena. But studies show that arenas often generate little economic or employment activity beyond their four walls.
And people in Chinatown are concerned that another huge, multi-block building, like the Fashion District and the Convention Center, will add to the way the streets around Chinatown are already dead zones (as opposed to the busyness, people and activity that are always part of the small businesses of Chinatown). The fears about the impact of the stadium on the surrounding neighborhood are even greater for the majority of the time when nothing is happening at the stadium.
Finally, the developers are promising that the stadium is a private development. But that statement is misleading. They have stated that they are open to public funding (state and federal money). And millions of dollars of investment in the infrastructure needed for the stadium. All this is to say nothing of the $100M that the city has already invested in renovation of the Wells Fargo Center. But Chinatown leaders point out that the claim to being all private money shortens the review processes and public responses involved in getting permission to begin construction. The developers have suggested they hope to have a green light go ahead by June.
POWER is joining the Chinatown Coalition to demand a full set of impact studies and an open hearing process. As well, the Coalition is asking that no legislation can move forward without first being presented to the community for public comment. And they mean to hold Councilman Squilla to his word that he will not support this project unless there are Community Benefits Agreements signed with the folks in Chinatown.
If you want to get involved, speak with Michael.
But Also!!! There are two upcoming events that you can get involved with this week: Feb 18, and Feb 19.
POWER coalition partners from #NoArenaInChinatown have invited us to participate in a wonderful pair of activities this weekend. We will write postcards addressed to city council and create a music video opposing the construction of a new arena in Center City. Details and registration links below. This is a great way to build community and help get our coalition’s message out to the broader public. Feel free to share with you congregations.
FEB 18: 4-6 PM @ AAI (Asian Arts Initiative): 1219 Vine Street / OPEN HOUSE / MEET-UP with #NoArenaInChinatown Solidarity (NACS) and others. Hear about what’s going on. Have fun & learn how to plug in to support the #SaveChinatown Coalition. Many options. Organizing on-ramps. Get out your pen postcard campaign. Prep for music video shoot 2/19. Spring action art-build. Singing. Teachers meet-up. Org resource share with AAU, API-PA, SPOC and others. Song rehearsal for flash mob. (Vaxxed & masked please. Test before. Thank you.) Additional access info and directions at AAI website. RSVP: bit.ly/signupnacs
FEB 19: SING IT OUT: “You came in with a wrecking ball / Completely disregarding us / But you don’t get to make the calls / All your promises are empty / And we’re ready!” Be part of a music video to protest the proposed arena. The video will be a parody of the Miley Cyrus song, “Wrecking Ball.” Calling for people to sing and dance in a video shoot in Chinatown, various times. All welcome. RSVP here and details will follow.