An organization that represents Philly’s residential developers has endorsed the 76ers’ arena proposal

With City Council this fall expected to decide the fate of the 76ers’ proposal to build an arena in Center City, groups hoping to influence the outcome are lining up to make their voices heard.

The Building Industry Association, which represents 400 real estate companies, primarily in residential development, became the latest to weigh in on Friday. The group endorsed the plan to build an arena at 10th and Market Streets, saying it will “generate jobs for architects, engineers, skilled tradesmen, and laborers during the construction phase, and thousands of new jobs upon completion.

“We don’t see $1.5 billion projects every day,” said Mo Rushdy, the organization’s vice president and managing partner at the Riverwards Group development firm. “Twelve thousand good-paying jobs created, an opportunity to train a diverse workforce and over a billion dollars in new created revenue for the City of Philadelphia are all reasons why we need to rally behind such a great project. It’s no secret, Market East is dying. This project is exactly what this corridor needs.”

The endorsement comes days after the Design Advocacy Group, an organization of Philadelphia-area architecture and design experts, came out against the arena proposal, and the BIA’s announcement included a response.

Such a public back-and-forth would be unusual for most development proposals. But the arena has become the most controversial issue facing City Hall, and neither side of the debate wants attacks on their positions to go unanswered.

The plan has the backing of the politically powerful construction unions and the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE, among other groups. The most vocal opponents have been advocates for Chinatown who fear their neighborhood, which borders the proposed arena site, could be displaced by the project.

» READ MORE: A large Philly-based group of architects and designers just came out against the 76ers’ arena plan

In its statement, the BIA said that “while the Design Advocacy Group announced its concerns and opposition to the proposed 76ers arena on Market Street East, the BIA is confident that through ongoing outreach and hard work, all such concerns can be largely addressed, as many have been already.”


“The 76ers continue to make changes to the plan in response to thoughtful feedback and collaboration, and we expect the final scheme to be anything but slapdash,” the BIA said.

The Market Street entrance of the proposed new Sixers arena in Center City Philadelphia, according to renderings.. … Read more76Place / 76Place

The design group said that while East Market Street is in need of revitalization, a basketball arena would not help and could “make matters worse” by sitting vacant on nights where there is no event at the arena and clogging the streets with traffic during 76ers home games.

“What Market East needs is an influx of 24/7 street-oriented activity, preferably connecting with and amplifying the vibrancy of Chinatown,” the group wrote. “The published plans for the arena, although sketchy, suffice to show that the new structure will not generate what is required.”

» READ MORE: The future of a new Sixers arena shifts to City Hall after a year of contention

The 76ers are currently tenants in the Wells Fargo Center, which is owned by Comcast Spectator, and they hope to move into their own facility when their lease expires in 2031. The team has set a self-imposed deadline of this fall to get the approvals they need to build the project through Council.

Lawmakers return from their summer break on Sept. 14, and more stakeholder groups are expected to weigh in on the project in the coming weeks.

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