Delaware River Waterfront Corporation does not choose 76ers for Penn's Landing project

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
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The 76ers say they will look elsewhere for a new arena after the Penn's Landing space went to another developer.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia 76ers will not be getting their new arena at Penn's Landing as the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation selected The Durst Organization on Wednesday as the lead developer for the project.

According to the DRWC, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to select the Durst Organization at a public meeting.

It's a $2.2 billion vision to revitalize and re-brand Penn's Landing that spans Columbus Boulevard between Lombard and Market streets.

It's a four phase, 9-year plan with six high-rise buildings north of a new park that would cap I-95.

It includes 3.5 million square feet of retail and residential space, including a supermarket, day care and hotel.

According to the release, The Durst Organization proposed development that includes "high quality design, the integration of parks and other public spaces, high standards of sustainability, mixed income housing, community engagement, and leveraging the project itself in a major way to expand economic opportunity for traditionally disadvantaged communities. It was also the only proposal that required no subsidy from the taxpayers."

The idea is to connect the city and the waterfront in an active way, with open spaces and an esplanade.

"You can literally sort of walk from the park onto the site and it will be seamless in their interconnection," William P. Hankowsky from the DRWC told Action News.

"Then there's new public spaces along the river's edge that's active at the street level with a food hall, restaurant and hotel. It's active, inviting, and kind of works as the street grid of the city pulled onto Penn's Landing," he added.

"We are thrilled to announce the selection of The Durst Organization as our next key development partner in DRWC's effort to revitalize the waterfront," said Alan Hoffmann, chairman, DRWC Board of Directors, in a statement. "After considering four strong proposals, we came to the conclusion that The Durst Organization offered the best plan to meet the goals and criteria identified through the public engagement process for the Master Plan for the Central Delaware."

Action News learned the Philadelphia 76ers had proposed a move from South Philadelphia to a new arena along the Delaware River Waterfront between Market and Chestnut streets--roughly a 7.4-acre site.

The $4 billion arena bid vowed to create 35,000 jobs in Penn's Landing and promised a solid commitment to include Black and brown communities in the proposal.

The following is a statement from the Philadelphia 76ers regarding the Penn's Landing development decision:

We were proud to put forward a proposal for Penn's Landing centered around equitable economic development and growth. Our project aimed to be part of the solution while delivering a world-class experience for our fans and the city at large. We are grateful to the DRWC for their dedication and commitment to this process, especially through an extraordinarily difficult time for the City of Philadelphia.

As we continue to pursue our future home, we remain committed to a vision that anchors a world-class venue with transformative community development, job creation and economic empowerment for low income and minority communities.

In its proposal, The Durst Organization has pledged to invest over $2.2 billion into Philadelphia's Delaware River Waterfront.

"Over 8 years of construction, the building project will create a total one-time economic output of $3.9 billion in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and support over 28,000 construction and construction-related full-time equivalent jobs resulting in nearly $2 billion of new wages for workers. This activity will generate additional tax revenues of $62 million for the City (including at least $9 million for the School District) and $113 million for the Commonwealth," according to the release.

The DRWC said once the development is built and operating, it will create 1,850 permanent on- and off-site jobs. Riverfront officials said it will generate ongoing, annual tax revenues to Philadelphia of $35 million (including at least $9M for the School District) and to the state of $21 million.

The DRWC said it required every proposal to include a component to increase opportunity and wealth building in traditionally marginalized communities.

The Durst Organization committed to create a partnership with a minority-owned firm for up to 20 percent of the project, according to the DRWC.

"They've also pledged aggressive workforce diversity numbers, including making sure that a large percentage of professional services and construction contracts go to traditionally disadvantaged firms," the release said.

"I'm pleased with DRWC's decision and appreciate its collaborative selection process. The Durst Organization's thoughtful proposal prioritized minority participation and economic impact, without the need for a tax-payer subsidy," Mayor Jim Kenney said in statement. "This is a very large-scale project that will have a great impact on the waterfront for years to come. I look forward to the continued revitalization of Penn's Landing. I am also grateful to the other respondents who offered creative ideas throughout this process. I want to thank them and encourage them to seek other opportunities to invest in our wonderful city."

The DRWC said the development will leverage the $225 million investment that the public sector and philanthropic leaders have already dedicated to create a new public park at Penn's Landing.

Officials said the park is in final design and construction will break ground in 2021 and will also include a new multi-use trail along Columbus Boulevard and an extension of the South Street Bridge to bring pedestrians directly to the waterfront.