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BIA Announces Support for 76ers Arena

Dear Members:

This morning the BIA came out in support of the proposed 76ers arena on Market Street East. Although individual opinions may differ, the BIA Board of Directors has a fiduciary duty to advance its mission “to advocate for and expand residential development and construction in Philadelphia.” While we don’t typically weigh in on specific project proposals, the 76ers arena has the potential to be transformative for the Market Street East corridor.

As one of the leading real estate development groups in the city, the BIA supports growth – providing opportunities for job creation, neighborhood revitalization, and economic prosperity. Our support for the 76ers arena in this location is therefore both appropriate and warranted. Market Street East needs investment and the city needs Market Street East. As stated in the letter of support below, the BIA is confident that stakeholder concerns about adjacent communities, design, traffic, and other issues can be sensitively addressed. And we believe a collaborative effort to make this project a success is in the best interest of Philadelphia.

BIA Executive Committee

Letter of Support for 76ers Arena on Market Street East

The Building Industry Association of Philadelphia (“BIA”) is writing to announce its strong support for the proposed 76ers arena on Market Street East. This project, and the development that will follow it, will help to redevelop and revitalize an important part of Center City. While it has become apparent that the transformation of the Gallery into the Fashion District has been positive, the current property is on the verge of financial collapse. Such a collapse will have immeasurable deleterious effects on what was once one of Philadelphia’s primary commercial thoroughfares. In short, it will go from bad to much worse.

The BIA represents more than 400 local companies in the real estate development and construction industry. Together, the thousands of developers, contractors, design professionals, lenders, and suppliers of the BIA have built hundreds of commercial, residential, and mixed-use projects, and tens of thousands of housing units in neighborhoods across the city. We fully understand that every new development must be respectful of the of the surrounding community and address legitimate neighborhood concerns. 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.

Projects like this generate jobs for architects, engineers, skilled tradesmen, and laborers during the construction phase, and thousands of new jobs upon completion. They generate new tax revenues to support services and schools. On Market Street East, the 76ers arena will not only bring a professional sports team into our downtown, as other cities have done, it will host concerts and other events that will increase transit ridership, drive foot traffic, support restaurants and shops, and drive hundreds of millions of dollars in ancillary commercial revenues to Center City per decade.

The BIA appreciates that development proposals like this can be politically divisive, but we implore the City and all other stakeholders to take stock of the current situation and work together to make this catalytic project a reality. The alternative is continued blight, continued vacancy along a critical commercial corridor, and less than the status quo. We strongly support this proposal and urge the City to advance the approvals and work collaboratively to further improve the project’s design and community benefits, all in the best interests of the City of Philadelphia.

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