Research dossiers

No Arena Washington Square West has done the research on the effects of projects like 76 Place. See our questions and overviews here, along with cited sources.

76 Devcorp has repeatedly shown itself to be evasive and secretive, and has even been caught breaking rules. 

Should we really trust them to put forth a worthy project that benefits all Philadelphians?

That should be everyone's #1 question: why should we trust a group of billionaire developers to produce a major project that benefits ALL Philadelphians as they claim it would? 


 76 Devcorp says that their 6 year construction project will create "+9100 construction jobs for Philadelphia residents", but we have no idea how this number was generated.  It is also fully dependent on the contractors that are hired for various parts of the project to bring in workers, and we can't say for sure that all or any of them will be local Philadelphians. While construction is a huge industry in Philadelphia, all contract work is temporary- it isn't creating permanent jobs for these "+9100" workers.  It sounds like a big number! But most of these employees will be employed for a fraction of the duration of the 6 year construction time line.  Plumbers will be employed for as long as it takes to do the plumbing; drywallers might spend 6 months or a year doing drywall; toilet partition installers may be on the job for a couple of months; sign installers and the people who do the final cleaning of the facility might be employed for just a week or two. 

The 76ers made job promises for their practice facility in Camden, but 7 years after opening, those promises have gone unfulfilled.  And what kind of "permanent" jobs would they really be creating?  If their facility is used just 2-3 times a week, how could a worker support themselves or their family with such limited employment?  What will happen to the workers who now work at Wells Fargo Center?  Will they lose hours?  Will they have to split their time between two venues? Do they event want to work somewhere else?  

“Just pulling 41 [basketball] games out of South Philly and putting them into Center City — all that does is create more poverty jobs,” UNITE HERE Local 274 president Rosslyn Wuchinich said. 

"This could be a step backwards."


Why do the 76ers need to leave the Wells Fargo Center in the first place, especially after the facility has very recently undergone a $400 million renovation?  Comcast Spectracore, owners of the Wells Fargo Center, has publicly stated that the Sixers are very much invited to stay. Modern humans know that one only needs to follow the money to find the answer; as it turns out, having their own arena would "dramatically increase" the value of the 76ers basketball team, and by extension its owners.  


There are a lot of ethical questions about the owners of the 76ers and the ethics of the project. In a highly unusual move, the Inquirer first published and then deleted an entire article about the questioning of these ethics without a retraction or an explanation of any kind. Individually, the owners have their own questionable business practices. Josh Harris is an investor in the series of companies that contributed to the bankruptcy, closure, and sale of Hahneman Hospital, Philadelphia's last safety-net hospital. David Blitzer is the Global Head of Blackstone's Tactical Opportunities Group. Blackstone is the world's largest single holder of real estate, and they own a LOT more than that.  

The company has acquired houses and apartments at a voracious speed in cities around the world. Like any company, Blackstone is focused on creating returns for its investors. Residents in some Blackstone properties have accused it of raising rents while reducing overheads, and the company has even been blamed – by an adviser to the United Nations – of helping to fuel the global housing crisis.

And then we have the face of the proposed project, David Adelman, the student housing king of west Philadelphia. His company, Campus Apartments, has undoubtedly contributed to the rampant gentrification of West Philadelphia and the displacement of Black residents. He was once sued by a group of Penn students who alleged that they “[spent their] year living in utterly reprehensible conditions without timely or effective remedy on behalf of the Landlord” and are now seeking legal recourse." We all know what the quality of student housing is like. Is that what we could expect from a new construction project managed by University City's biggest landlord?  

These complaints are not unique. University City Associates, the University of Pennsylvania’s real estate arm, lists 68 properties, containing 550 total units, on its website. All of these are managed by Campus Apartments. 26 of these properties, or over 38 percent, have failed an inspection at some point, city records show. Seven of these were classified as “unsafe”, and four as “hazardous.” 

These numbers don’t even tell the whole story. For every failed inspection, I suspect many more tenants either didn’t know how to advocate for themselves or were unable to get the city to take action. Take 3935 Baltimore Avenue, for example. Despite the history of litigation coming out of this property, to date, it still has zero listed inspections. –The Daily Pennsylvanian


Adelman is apparently fully committed to building on the proposed location right between Wash West and Chinatown, but why? Because the proposed location is adjacent to an immigrant community, the developers might see it as an easy target. Is this colonization on the micro scale?  The Chinatown community has loudly and clearly said NO, they do not want an arena in their neighborhood—but David Adelman says it doesn't matter. He will make them like it. What makes a group of billionaire developers think that they know better what Philadelphians need or want than the Philadelphians who already live and work in the area?  What if, instead of continuously trying to make-over the city of Philadelphia with placemaking projects like Love Park (which is now a plaza) or Dilworth Park (which is now nearly constantly occupied with private organization events and commercialism) we focused on placekeeping? It is the places that we make for ourselves that are the most special and useful to us, and both Chinatown and Washington Square West have been making and keeping the things that work for them for a long long time.  The risk of losing one of America's remaining Chinatowns is not worth the proportionally small benefits that 76 Devcorp claims their poject would produce. 


The 1000 block of Market Street is a bit of a no-man's land that does not have an active* Registered Community Organization to be notified about or fight for or against development there. Perhaps this made the location an easy target. The expansion of the project to inlcude the former Greyhound Bus Station site means that the project does now spill over in to the Chinatown RCO district.  

76 Devcorp quietly decided that it would be nice for them if they could just close Filbert Street between 10th and 11th Streets to make their project even bigger.  Without any public announcement or discussion, lawyers for 76 Devcorp included language in a parking refinance bill to remove Filbert Street from the street grid completely. Naturally, Mayor Kenney claimed "it wasn't me," and Councilman Squilla said he didn't know about the included language because he literally did not read a bill that he signed. And that might be just about all you need to know about how Councilman Squilla governs. 

“Unfortunately I never saw it because it came last minute, and I wasn’t in the office,” Squilla said. “I don’t know if I would have caught it if I read it.”

A Kenney spokesperson, however, said the city never directed Grigos to work with Squilla on the Filbert Street language, which would have helped facilitate the construction of the proposed arena.

“Any conversations regarding this language occurred after it was added by the Sixers,” Kenney spokesperson Kevin Lessard said. “The administration was never in favor of this language.”

The mystery over the origin of the Filbert Street provision has lingered in the minds of many Chinatown residents and advocates who are worried that the arena could displace Center City’s vibrant Asian American community. They said they felt betrayed that the legislation would be considered before a community engagement process could be completed — something Squilla promised wouldn’t happen.

Why are lawyers for developers writing language for city council bills in the first place?  We don't have a practical answer for this, but it could have something to do with the massive amounts of money that real estate and building trades industries pour in to Philadelphia politics. You can throw Alan Domb out of the reporting mix and still see how much money from real estate and building trades goes in to politics. 


Clearly, we cannot trust 76 Devcorp after being caught red-handed twice bending or breaking rules. Not only did they sneak their language in to an unrelated parking bill, they were also essentially caught violating campaign finance laws, but the case has since been dismissed as moot. Still, it shows the lengths that 76 Devcorp is willing to go to, and their habits of keeping their maneuvers and dealings secret.  

We also need to question whether Councilman Mark Squilla can be trusted to do what his constituents ask of him. Marches, meetings, thousands of postcards, many personal calls and emails have all been ineffective at swaying the councilman so far. He has publicly stated that he would not introduce legislation for the arena if the Chinatown community did not want it (and they clearly don't) but then proceded to publicly state that he WOULD be introducing legislation. He has said publicly more than once that it would be "disingenuous" of him to form an opinion before all the studies are done, but of those who have spoken directly to him, and those WE have spoken to, NO ONE IS CONFIDENT HE WILL LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE. 


Councilman Squilla's definition of stakeholders continues to expand as he hears opposition from those stakeholders. The councilman has also stated publicly, more than once, that Washington Square West is a stakeholder.  

This is why it is critically important for residents of Washington Square West to say NO to the arena. Say it loudly to your neighbors, your councilman (City Hall Room 332, (215) 686-3458, (215) 686-3459, and your local Civic Association leaders ( Did you know that you can go to City Hall any day you like? No appointment necessary! Enter at the northeast corner, present ID and state that you'd like to visit Councilman Squilla's office. 

Join our team to say NO to an arena in Center City to protect our quality of life, our historic streets and buildings, our businesses, our Chinatown neighbors, and our sanity. Six years of construction atop a major transit station will totally disrupt the daily lives of thousands of Philadelphians who depend on the use of Jefferson station and other public transportation routes that travel through Market East. Six years of construction could decimate existing business in Chinatown, and the effects of a giant building that is empty more than it is used is NOT the revitalization of Market East that Philadelphians are looking for.