Firms selected to complete independent evaluations
PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia and PIDC announced today updates regarding the proposal to build a sports arena on the 1000 block of Market Street, including on the status of the three requests for proposals (RFPs) seeking to independently evaluate the project proposal: one related to a community impact assessment, one seeking an economic analysis and projection, and another for design services consulting.
“As we have said from the very beginning, the City has an obligation to complete its due diligence in understanding the impact the proposed downtown arena may have on the surrounding communities before any plans move forward,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I want to thank the consultant teams who are taking on this important and challenging work, and their efforts will be critical to helping us understand the economic and community impacts of this proposal. We also recognize doing our due diligence will take time. We want to do this right, so we need to let the selected firms do their work over these next several months. We ask for patience and understanding from all interested parties including the community, the developers and the public at large.”
Community Impact Assessment RFP
BJH Advisors—a real estate advisory and planning firm with expertise in infrastructure and urban planning, community development, financial and market analytics, tax policy and economic development—has been retained to complete the community impact assessment related to the proposed downtown arena.
BJH will partner with Sojourner Consulting, a Philadelphia-based firm that works with government, private and non-profit clients to support place-based initiatives, understand local ecosystems and stakeholders, and position programs and services to best engage underserved populations. Sojourner—which offers expertise on immigrant-based communities and has a track record of work in Philadelphia Chinatown—will work together with subject matter experts, including Urban Partners for community economic analysis, Drs. Susannah Laramee Kidd and Laureen Hom for research and cultural strategy, and AKRF for environmental impacts.
The team will use a systems approach to understand how a prospective arena may impact the Chinatown community’s conditions for success. This work will explore the current environment and recent trends by analyzing:
- relationships between Chinatown and cultural identity,
- demographic and socioeconomic data,
- demographic changes and migration patterns,
- commercial and residential real estate activity and development,
- local economic conditions,
- physical conditions,
- and the history of large-scale development in the area.
The consultant team expects to hold a public community meeting during the course of its work, and will engage community groups and stakeholders. The consultant team will also analyze environmental impacts including air quality, identification of hazards and hazardous materials, and evaluation of noise and vibration in the area.
A traffic impact analysis has been prepared by Langan Associates on behalf of the developers and is currently being analyzed and revised in response to a public agency review coordinated among the City, PennDOT and SEPTA. The analysis of current and projected traffic, parking, pedestrian, and transit impacts will be provided to BJH so that it can be integrated into the community impact analysis.
“Our team will support the City of Philadelphia by conducting an impact assessment to analyze and understand how the proposed arena will affect Chinatown and other surrounding neighborhoods—an assessment that the City has identified as critical to evaluating this proposal,” said Kei Hayashi, Principal of BJH.
“With our firms’ expertise across planning, community economic development and ethnography disciplines—with a particular expertise in Chinatowns and other AAPI communities—our team is positioned to fully leverage the deep body of planning, research, and knowledge that already exists around Philadelphia’s Chinatown,” added Sarah Yeung, Principal of Sojourner Consulting. “We will work with local partners to implement outreach to community members as we go about developing this community assessment.”
Economic Analysis and Projection RFP
CSL, a leading facilities advisory and planning firm specializing in the sports, entertainment, convention and leisure industries, has been retained to carry out the economic analysis and projections. CSL brings significant expertise, having provided financial analysis on more than a dozen NBA and NHL arenas currently in operation. including analysis in cities with one and two professional sports arenas. This work will commence in various phases including evaluation of construction costs, projected revenues and expenses, tax revenues associated with construction and operations, financial feasibility, and capacity of Philadelphia to support two professional sports arenas. CSL will also do an assessment of comparable arenas, including an analysis of markets supporting more than one arena.
“We understand and appreciate that the proposed arena has generated significant interest in Philadelphia, and we look forward to applying our team’s vast knowledge and expertise to provide a robust economic analysis that will be helpful and informative,” said Ben Wrigley, Chief Operating Officer, CSL.
Design Consulting Services RFP
Regarding the third RFP—for design consulting services—proposals are under consideration but are different from the other RFP responses in that the respondents’ primary function will be to consult on the functional and design aspects of the developers’ proposed arena. The developers have not yet submitted a design proposal for consideration.
Background and Process
A total of 11 firms submitted proposals to the three separate RFPs related to evaluating the proposed arena: three to the community impact RFP, six to the economic analysis RFP; and two for the design services consulting RFP. As the City’s partner and lead economic development agency, PIDC is facilitating the City’s due diligence regarding the Sixers arena proposal.
An advisory committee was created to review and evaluate the responses and provide input and guidance to the City and PIDC as they select the consultant teams. The committee included staff members within the City’s Department of Planning and Development, the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement and PIDC, along with members of the community and/or individuals they designated to represent them on the committee.
To get the extensive studies the City needs done the right way and without taxpayers footing the bill, the City required the developers to create a pool of funds that economic development partner PIDC can use to initiate contracts with independent third party consultants. The developer team has no further involvement and PIDC retains all control over selection and management of the consultants with no input from the Sixers.
The work of the consultants will commence as soon as possible, and City officials and PIDC will work with the selected firms to develop an appropriate timeframe for the work and delivery of a final report(s), likely in the fall. It is important to note that any final report(s) will not lay out recommendations, but will assess impacts of the potential scenarios either with—or without—an arena.