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By Luke Hoban, Adrian Franken, Luke Mullock, Hannah Wilcox
The Pennsylvania Convention Center, a building located on Twelfth and Race Street, has decided to double its size despite the disapproval of its neighbor, Chinatown. The voice of these concerns mainly rose from the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, known as PCDC, whose goal is to promote, preserve, and protect Chinatown's community.
John Chin, the executive director of PCDC, voiced his opinion about the Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion. He believes after the center is expanded, it will bring more traffic to Chinatown. This would decrease the already limited available parking and raise the prices of those parking spaces. "They take up a lot of parking spaces in the area which hurts the small businesses," said Chin.
This was not PCDC's first obstacle. In 2009, it was discussed that the Foxwood Casino would be placed in the Gallery at Market East. Chin stated this would have increased traffic, especially bus traffic. However, his main concern was the growth of the gambling addiction among Chinatown's citizens. "...[E]specially for our Chinatown and the Asian-Chinese culture, there is a propensity for gambling addiction. I mean, you can talk to people in the street and... most people will say that they either have a family member or know a friend or someone who's had a gambling problem. So that was probably the biggest concern of placing the casino at the front door of Chinatown," said Chin.
In 2000, the Phillies stadium was going to be built in Chinatown. Chin said if the stadium was built, it would have destroyed homes and increased the traffic. The stadium would have also caused a disturbance to neighbors if they allowed music venues to rent the stadium. The stadium could have potentially become a direct competitor with Chinatown's restaurants since it would sell food. "In addition to the tremendous traffic on game days, there were concerns that the stadium would be rented out for music revenues.... [I]t does not really help the quality of life for the neighbors.... [T]he stadiums provide all the amenities that any fan would need, including many options for food and dining.... [T]he stadium would become a direct competitor for our food establishment," said Chin.
PCDC's main concern is that Philadelphia's Chinatown would no longer maintain its identity as an immigrant neighborhood and stronghold of Asian Culture. "One of the things that we have to try to do is maintain affordable housing in this community, because this is not a low income neighborhood.... A perfect example of this is... Washington D.C. Washington D.C.'s Chinatown is really not much of a Chinatown anymore because all the urban development sort of pushed out the community," said Chin.
The convention center is expected to open in spring 2011.