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Chinatown community blindsided by bill for potential Sixers arena

Chinatown residents blindsided by bill for potential Sixers arena
Chinatown residents blindsided by bill for potential Sixers arena 02:09

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The fight against the construction of a new Philadelphia 76ers arena in Center City continues after the wording of a bill leaves some members of the Chinatown community feeling disappointed and blindsided.

Chinatown residents called it a secret move and say they were happy they were able to step in and voice their concerns.

The Chinatown community has been upset and outraged ever since the 76 Place proposal surfaced.

"They are trying to ignore the voice of Chinatown," Wei Chen of Asian American United said.

They say to make matter worse, they were blindsided by a parking refinancing bill at Philadelphia City Council's Finance Committee.

They claim the bill contained certain language that would help developers move the arena process along by shutting down Filbert Street between 10th and 11th Streets.

"Striking Filbert Street would be a critical piece of government policy that would enable the Sixers arena to be built as they desire it to be built," one woman said. "It was such an underhanded, sneaky stealth move that it was disappointing."

Chinatown neighbors fight against proposed new 76ers arena 01:40

Mayor Jim Kenney's office says the administration did not add Section 2 to the legislation, but Councilmember Mark Squilla said the language was added by outside attorneys working with the Administration.

Squilla says, "When the Section 2 concerns were brought to my attention, I contacted the Administration to amend the legislation.  They offered 2 suggestions: to reword the section or to strike it. I chose to strike it."

A 76DevCorp spokesperson says, "We are coordinating with stakeholders in collaboration with the city to outline what is necessary to make this project possible -- which would include changes to Filbert Street. Our understanding is that this bill simply keeps the option open for changes that would still need approval in the future."

The spokesperson says they plan on additional outreach to share more information and receive feedback.

People who live there say they will do their best to protect their community.

"If I lost this place, I don't think would be able to reconnect with my culture," Chen said. "My kids and the younger generation would not be able to reconnect with my culture."

Chinatown residents say this is just one major hurdle. They plan to continue to fight the arena coming to Center City.

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