Chinatown welcomes ‘a new building and a new day’ with the Crane

Young students from the Chinatown Learning Center sing during the grand opening of the Crane Chinatown community center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Young students from the Chinatown Learning Center sing during the grand opening of the Crane Chinatown community center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood is marking the end of an unfortunate era — The densely populated downtown neighborhood has gone decades without a major community or recreational space.

That changed on Friday when the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) cut the ribbon on the Crane, a $75 million residential tower that will also host a basketball court, fitness center, educational space, and daycare that are primarily aimed at serving the region’s largest Asian-American community.

Colorful painted koi fish swim among lily pads at the entrance to the new Crane Chinatown community center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“This is a new building and a new day for Chinatown,” said PCDC executive director John W. Chin.

The 20-story tower, some 30 years in the making, sits just north of a small cap over the Vine Street Expressway designed to make it easier to cross its seven lanes of traffic and parking.

A rooftop event space at the Crane Chinatown building is available to apartment residents and members of the community. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Kenney was on location at the ribbon-cutting and hailed the new development.

“This community center will contribute to the development of this neighborhood while serving and becoming a hub for the community,” he said.

Sara Yeung, a community planner who worked on the project, described the space as a “home base” for the Chinatown community in a recent op-ed.

“The Crane was inspired by the children from FACTS Charter School and Holy Redeemer who have recess in a parking lot,” Yeung wrote. “It was inspired by the elders who practice tai chi elbow-to-elbow in the cramped Chinatown office space of On Lok Senior Services Center.” 

Financing for the long-awaited project was supported by EB-5 investment programs — which grant green cards and a path to citizenship to foreign investors who invest in job-creating real estate projects — and a $5 million state grant.

The remainder of the building, which is listed as a separate property from the adjoining recreational center, will house some 150 apartments. This portion of the development, once envisioned as a more mixed-income development, has since scaled back affordable housing plans to just three units

PCDC began marketing that portion of the building for sale over the summer as a luxury rental address with a $67 million price tag.

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