5th Square stands in full solidarity with those working to ensure that Chinatown remains a vibrant, affordable, and accessible center of the Chinese community in Philadelphia.
As Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation's recent statement noted, the vast majority of Chinatown residents, workers, and businesses oppose the Sixers' proposal to build a new arena at the doorstep of the neighborhood. We must listen to those who call Chinatown home in a project that is likely to permanently alter Chinatown's fabric.
Far too often, we have seen the Chinese community in Philadelphia suffer from urban policies that have harmed Chinatown's social and physical integrity. The Vine Street Expressway, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the Gallery Mall have all cut off Chinatown from the surrounding neighborhoods with walls of monolithic structures that undermine the dense, urban, and vibrant neighborhood that Chinatown residents have built. We have also seen the damaging effects of stadium projects in other cities’ civic space.
As Philadelphia finally embarks on undoing some of the harms of these inequitable and anti-urban projects (for example, by capping portions of the Vine Street Expressway), we must be especially vigilant not to repeat these mistakes.
Philadelphia should be leading the effort to make cities more sustainable, walkable, and economically thriving. We are glad to see more interest in building on Philadelphia's robust public transit infrastructure to bring more transit, biking, and walking-friendly activity to Center City. But such investments cannot come at the cost of endangering a neighborhood that already represents the dense, walkable urbanism that we want to see thrive throughout the city.
As such, we believe this site would be better suited for building what already makes Center City and Chinatown such special places to live, work, and visit: mixed-use buildings with street-fronted retail and dense residential units -- places that welcome residents, visitors and patrons around the clock and all year long.
5th Square believes that Philadelphia must be a city that protects everyone's ability to live, work, and find community here. Chinatown should be no exception.