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Sixers arena proposal could take over Greyhound station, part of Filbert Street

By on August 1, 2022 0

Supporters of the Philadelphia 76ers arena in downtown say they are now ready to increase the size of the proposed venue from its original location in the 1000 block of Market Street across Filbert Street adjacent, to the current property of the Greyhound Bus Terminal, which the arena would replace.

“We have that under contract,” confirmed David Adelman, the Philadelphia developer working with Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer to build a new arena. He declined to provide further details of the arrangement, citing a nondisclosure agreement.

Greyhound recently enlisted the help of public officials to relocate to make room for the next user. Greyhound and the station’s New York owner, Hany Arnut’s Criterion Holdings LLC, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

“They informed me that their lease was going to end in the next few years. They are starting to consider alternative sites,” said Anuj Gupta, chief of staff for U.S. Representative Dwight Evans (D., Pa.).

The Sixers development group hopes to take over the one-way block of Filbert Street between the Fashion District Philadelphia mall and the bus station. If the group gets city approval, it plans to build the $1.3 billion arena between 2026 and 2031.

The site described in the July 21 announcement would grow from a proposed 118,000 square feet, including the Market Street property, which Philadelphia fashion district owner Macerich has agreed to redevelop for the project, to approximately 175,000 square feet by adding the street and bus property.

Sidewalk to sidewalk, the ground under the arena would be larger than Madison Square Garden in New York and TD Garden in Boston and comparable to contemporary stadiums in Anaheim, California, Brooklyn, NY, Dallas and Toronto, Adelman said. .

That would give more room for businesses, which Adelman said should be open even when Sixers games or other events aren’t scheduled.

Adelman said the developers hoped to attract “genuine Chinatown businesses to integrate” into the new arena “as well as regional and national brands.” He noted that the footprint “will not displace a business or resident” in Chinatown.

Owners representing 15 Chinese-American business and cultural associations in the region met Friday at an office on 10th Street to discuss the likely effect of the arena and the collective stance they should take.

“I need to know more,” said Andy Liu, owner of Home Line Realty, one of 20 executives in a second-floor meeting room.

“This could significantly increase property values. There are a lot of people who would like to make more money from this,” said Steve Zhu, head of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, who last month signed a letter circulated by Asian Americans United that was skeptical of the project.

At-Large City Councilman David Oh, a Republican, told the group he shared initial skepticism about whether an arena would benefit the neighborhood, or whether owners could use the plan to pressure their current landlord. , Comcast, to make concessions to keep the team as a tenant of its South Philadelphia arena, the Wells Fargo Center.

Oh urged business owners and residents to choose leaders and spokespersons and to invite arena promoters to make a more detailed pitch. A united Chinatown, he said, could more likely ensure that, if the arena is built, community members could extract useful concessions from developers so that the neighborhood is more likely to grow and prosper rather than to waste away.

Arena developers made the project website available in Simplified Chinese characters, as well as English, and Adelman said they met people in Chinatown.

The neighborhood is home to about 5,000 people, about half of whom live in federally subsidized apartments developed by the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. since the 1960s, according to its executive director, John Chin. The majority of the city’s 22,000 Chinese-born people live in northeast Philadelphia and other neighborhoods miles from Chinatown, but some immigrants and their American-born descendants visit the neighborhood for shopping. or worship, those present at the meeting said.

Among the concerns expressed at the meeting was traffic on game days and when other events are scheduled at the arena.

Sixers Group said it expected half of the fans to arrive at the planned 18,500-seat arena on SEPTA commuter and city trains which stop below the venue or on foot from the line PATCO in nearby New Jersey, compared to about a quarter who now arrive by subway or bus to the farther arena in South Philly.

Adelman said moving intercity buses away from Filbert Street would reduce some of the heavy traffic that can slow streets in Chinatown.

Asked where the Greyhound station should go if it leaves Filbert Street, Center City District Chief Paul Levy noted that possibilities city officials have considered in the past include the former building of the police administration, the Roundhouse, at 750 Race St., and the 30th Street neighborhood. Station, where rival bus lines already pick up and drop off passengers.

Wherever it goes, Greyhound will need to improve its track record of ‘misbehaviour’ from loiterers outside its terminal, said Gupta, who before joining Evans staff in 2020 ran the nearby Reading Terminal Market . “You have to be outspoken to address these issues.”

The location of the Filbert Street bus terminal was not the result of planning, but of unexpected need and opportunity, Levy said.

The terminal site at 1001-23 Filbert St. housed the former Harrison Stores building, a 12-story 1896 Gothic retail, warehouse and office tower that was being renovated in 1983 when it caught fire and burned.

It was demolished the following year and replaced by the low-rise bus station, which moved there to accommodate Philadelphia developer Ron Rubin’s high-rise construction project in the former station house, 1735 Market St., now the BNY Mellon office tower with its Pyramid Top.

Rubin then owned the Gallery mall complex, now the Fashion District of Philadelphia, which includes the block of stores that was set aside as the Market Street base for the new arena.