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76ers Add Mixed-Income Apartment Tower To Arena Proposal, Release New Renderings

The Philadelphia 76ers' Center City arena proposal continues to grow in scope as the team attempts to rally support in the city.

A rendering of 76 Place, the Philadelphia 76ers' proposed arena on East Market Street, updated to include the proposal for a $250M, 395-unit apartment building with 20% affordable units.

The team's development subsidiary on Wednesday released a new batch of renderings for its proposed arena at 11th and Market streets, dubbed 76 Place, with a new element: a $250M mixed-income apartment building on the north side of the site. That subsidiary has been renamed from 76 Devcorp to 76 DevCo, a spokesperson for the company told Bisnow.

76 DevCo pledged to set aside 20% of the apartment tower's estimated 395 units for affordable housing, which it said was in response to concerns about the impact of the arena on neighboring communities.

Other updates to the arena design, like heavier use of glass and digital signage to further connect the arena to the street, also came as a result of community engagement, the team's announcement said. 

Perhaps the biggest change 76 DevCo made to the arena plan itself was to raise the proposed floor of the basketball court to a story above the street, which is intended to reduce the impact on the Jefferson Station regional rail stop and the 11th Street subway stop of the Market-Frankford Line.

The initial plan for 76 Place had center court at the same level of what is now the below-grade concourse of the Fashion District Philadelphia mall, which would have been less than 200 feet from Jefferson Station's platforms.

A new rendering of the Market Street side of 76 Place, showcasing a raised arena floor and a more open, glassy facade.

The raised arena would also make room for a pedestrian corridor between Market Street and Cuthbert Street, the latter of which would become a block-long covered arcade, the announcement says. The covering of a city street is one of the plan components that requires an act of Philadelphia City Council to permit.

76 Place would replace the westernmost third of the three-block Fashion District, necessitating a redevelopment of the remaining two-thirds. The mall is co-owned by Macerich and PREIT, with Macerich holding the controlling interest and publicly backing the project.

The new renderings and apartment proposal come just two weeks after the 76ers proposed transferring the arena's land to the city, which the team claims would increase the tax revenue generated for the city and school district to $1B. 76 DevCo has committed at least $50M to a community benefits agreement since its initial announcement.

The new wave of plans was unveiled just over a year after the arena proposal was initially announced and weeks before the city council is set to reconvene for its fall session. 76 DevCo CEO and 76ers part-owner David Adelman has said the arena plan depends on receiving legislative approval before the year ends, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

An updated rendering of 76 Place includes a glass-covered walkway between the arena and the remaining portion of the Fashion District Philadelphia mall.

Though the arena site doesn't require zoning changes to include a multifamily tower, the arena itself would need a special zoning exemption. Because the city's unofficial tradition of councilmanic prerogative leaves land decisions in the hands of district representatives, District 1 Councilmember Mark Squilla may be the most important public figure in Philadelphia to the arena plan's success or failure, WHYY reports.

The bright digital signage and glassy facade wouldn't extend all the way around the arena so as to minimize disruption for Chinatown, which borders the arena site to the north. Dozens of Chinatown organizations have joined to oppose the arena, with Squilla the focus of their pressure campaign, WHYY reports.

Any movement toward city approval likely will wait until the completion of three impact studies, two of which the city has already assigned to consulting firms. The 76ers will be paying for a sizable chunk of the studies' cost, leading Chinatown advocates to question their legitimacy, the Inquirer reports.

The arena proposal's construction timeline is meant to coincide with the end of the 76ers' lease at Wells Fargo Center within the South Philly Sports Complex in 2031.