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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

Philadelphia 76ers add $250M apartment tower to Center City arena proposal

A rendering shows the Philadelphia 76ers' proposed Center City arena looking southwest.

The Philadelphia 76ers are expanding plans for a $1.3 billion Center City arena to include a 20-story apartment tower that would sit atop their proposed Market Street home.

The mixed-income residential building, which would cost an additional $250 million and be funded by private investment, is one of several new elements announced by the Sixers on Wednesday. The 395-unit tower was added in response to community concerns about how the proposed arena, called 76 Place, would impact housing affordability in the area, according to the team.

The Sixers would pledge to designate 20% of the units as affordable housing if the project is approved, the team said.

Other changes to the arena project announced Wednesday include raising the event floor above street level to create ground-floor retail, more pedestrian flow and an entrance to Jefferson Station. Like the residential tower, the decision to raise the event floor was made to address community concerns, the Sixers said. In March, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the original plans for 76 Place called for lowering the ceilings at the currently airy station.

The team also released new renderings to illustrate the updated arena plans.

The Sixers' proposal to build a new arena on a portion of the Fashion District mall between 10th and 11th streets has been met with significant pushback from the adjacent Chinatown community, which has voiced concerns that the project could displace residents or be a catalyst for gentrification that would make the neighborhood unaffordable.

"During discussions with community stakeholders, the team consistently heard residential affordability is a primary concern," the 76ers said in a release announcing the changes, adding that the current zoning does not require affordable housing.

The Sixers said the new residential aspect of the 76 Place project falls in line with other mixed-use arena developments across the country.

"We are excited to share the latest conceptual renderings of the project, inspired by community feedback and studying the best aspects from 28 of 30 NBA teams with existing downtown arenas," said David Adelman, a part-owner of the 76ers and head of 76 Devcorp, the entity leading the project.

The team also detailed sustainability elements to the project, including incorporating carbon reduction strategies, a green roof and solar panels on the arena. Plans also call for a glass façade that developers hope will keep the arena visually connected to Market Street and Chinatown.

The addition of residential space to the Sixers project follows comments made in June by Comcast Spectacor CEO Dan Hilferty that the company has similar aspirations to build a sprawling mixed-use community next to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia that would include residential. The Sixers and Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Wells Fargo Center, remain at odds over the Sixers' insistence on leaving its current South Philadelphia home for Center City when the NBA team's lease expires in 2031.

The Sixers' arena proposal has been controversial since the team first went public with its plans in July 2022. The proposal is currently being evaluated by the city, which last month selected three independent consulting firms to conduct an independent analysis of the arena's impact.

On July 27, the Sixers said they are willing to transfer the Market Street property to public ownership to give the city greater influence on the project and create an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue for the city, state and school district. The team said it announced the potential land transfer and tax projections so those commitments can be included in the city’s due diligence process.

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