Chinatown Land Taken 40 Years Ago – Discussions Reopen to Redress the Wrongs of the Past
Many may not know that the parking lot at the 800 block between Race and Vine street used to be homes for dozens of Chinatown residents and businesses. In the 1980s, however, the properties were demolished and the land was dug up for the construction of the underground Center City Commuter Connection (CCCC), commonly known as the Commuter Tunnel. PCDC’s founder, Cecilia Moy Yep was one of the homeowners who were displaced. After more than 40 years, she still adamantly advocates that the City should return the land to the Chinatown community.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), a city entity, awarded the land to a developer named Pennrose. PRA created a process to select a project that would provide “social impact.” The awarded project includes a mixed-income apartment building, a hotel, and an Equal Justice Center (EJC), which would house non-profit legal services under one roof.
PRA’s decision was controversial. Many community leaders and stakeholders were skeptical about whether Pennrose’s project would actually meet the needs of Chinatown. In September 2020, the EJC announced that it would not be built, and PRA is canceling the contract.
On Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, PCDC hosted a public meeting to provide updates on the recent changes at 800 Vine Street. Community members were very active in sharing their thoughts and opinions on what the development should look like now that the parcel was open again. Many spoke out about various uses they wanted to see on this land, including retail space, affordable housing, and open green space. Participants wanted to see that this land not only benefits seniors, but also provides space for intergenerational connection and children with disabilities. Suggestions include a Chinatown museum, an intergenerational playground, and an urban farm. Community members emphasized the importance of having a master plan for the whole parcel as well as a comprehensive planning process. They urged PCDC to collaborate with other organizations and individuals to make sure that the City understands the community needs.
Public officials who attended the meeting also supported a planning process led by the community and for the community. Councilman Mark Squilla recognized that the community was not satisfied with the previous RFP and community engagement process and stated, “as we see these developments happen in the community, we need to make sure that it is a fair and transparent process.” State Representative Mary Isaacson told the community members that a planning process would be set up to make sure their voices would be heard. She emphasized that we need to “have everything necessary to move the Chinatown community forward and not just have the development for the sake of development.”
You can watch the meeting recording here, passcode: Pu&DP^7N
The 800 Vine Street parcel is an opportunity to strengthen and grow our community. It is the last remaining parcel in Chinatown that can provide much-needed neighborhood amenities such as affordable housing and open space. As PCDC’s Board Chair, Margaret Chin stated, this parcel “should stay and be developed in our community, by our community, and for our community.”
四十年前華埠的土地被奪走 – 如今社區重新討論糾正歷史錯誤
在2017年，費城再開發局將這塊地給了開發商Pennrose。費城再開發局通過一系列流程選擇了一個提供社會影響力的項目。被選中的項目包括了一棟混合收入的公寓大樓、一個酒店和一個Equal Justice Center (EJC, 公平正義中心)。這個中心將集合許多提供法律服務的非營利組織。費城再開發局的決定是充滿爭議的。許多社區領袖和利益相關方質疑Pennrose的項目是否會滿足華埠的需要。2020年9月，公平正義中心宣佈將不會建造這個大樓，並且費城再開發局將會取消這個合約。
參會的政府官員們也支持了建立一個社區主導和為社區服務的規劃過程。市議員Mark Squilla承認了社區對於之前的征詢方案過程和社區參與過程並不滿意，並說道 “在我們見證這些開發在社區發生的同時，我們需要保證它是一個公平和透明的過程”。宾州众议员Mary Isaacson向社區居民保證会有一個聽取他們意見的規劃過程。她強調我們需要“保證華埠社區向前進步，而不是僅僅是為了開發而開發”。
你可以点击这里观看该社区会议的录像, 密码: Pu&DP^7N