When the Sixers went public with their plan for a downtown arena, they also announced the existence of 76 Devcorp. The new development company was formed to advance efforts to bring a stadium to 10th Street and Market Street and will be led by David Adelman.
Adelman is a longtime player in the Philly real estate industry – since he was a teenager – and he has some ties to the ’76ers.
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People around the University of Pennsylvania probably know him from Campus Apartments, the largest student housing company. Adelman has been the CEO of this company for 25 years, but his footprint is even bigger.
Here’s what we know about the man who, when the project is complete, will build what’s called 76 Place in Market East.
Where did he start?
Adelman, 50, was born and raised in Penn Valley, Lower Merion. He is a long-term investor in Philly’s housing stock. Just how long? He started as a teenager, so the story goes, when he gave $2,000 of his bar mitzvah money to developer Alan Horwitz to invest in a property at 45th and Pine Streets.
Horwitz, a family friend who mentored young Adelman, is the founder of Campus Apartments. The company began catering to Penn students in the late 1950’s but has expanded across the country.
Many Philadelphians already know Horwitz, whether they realize it or not, as the Sixth Man of the ’76, a floor seat fanatic who is basically to Wells Fargo Center what Spike Lee is to Madison Square Garden, minus the directorial pedigree .
Adelman succeeded Horwitz as CEO of Campus Apartments in 1997 and grew his holdings from there.
The grandson of a Holocaust survivor is a former chair of the Philadelphia Holocaust Foundation. According to his online resume, he also serves on several other bodies, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the University City District, Penn Medicine, and the USC Shoah Foundation.
What possessions does he have now and how rich is he?
Adelman has said real estate is his favorite investment, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing other ventures.
He is Vice Chairman of the asset management firm FS Investments, formerly Franklin Square Capital Partners, which he co-founded in 2007 and which is known for pioneering investments through business development firms. Adelman also founded Darco Capital, a venture capital firm that has invested in GoPuff, the 76ers Innovation Lab and Premier League club Crystal Palace.
Campus Apartments, where it all began and where he is still CEO, manages over $1.5 billion in assets across 18 states across more than 50 universities and colleges, according to its website.
Between his various holdings — of which FS Investments is reportedly the most profitable, with assets of $25 billion — Insider estimates Adelman has a personal net worth of around $1.6 billion.
What is its role in the University Borough?
Adelman helped establish the University City District, a special service district that transformed the part of West Philadelphia around Penn and Drexel. Today he is Vice Chairman of the UCD Board of Directors.
In a fact sheet released at the group’s inception in 1997, a Penn official described UCD as a community revitalization partnership “of local property owners and other stakeholders to develop and implement a program of cleaning, security and other services.” , which “serves as an advocate for improved city services.”
In Philadelphia, business improvement districts are funded through a fee or tax by property owners or businesses in the area to provide services to the immediate neighborhood. According to a profile in Multifamily Executive magazine, Adelman was originally the district’s largest private sector benefactor, contributing half a million dollars over a decade.
25 years after its founding, UCD organizes events like the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, hosts pop-ups like The Porch at 30th Street, maintains a police force, operates the LUCY shuttle, and cleans up neighborhood trash and debris. The UCD has also been cited as a factor in the area’s long, unstoppable gentrification.
In a video celebrating UCD’s 20th anniversary, Adelman said “we’re at a point where we can really focus on the positive” in West Philly, increasing the borough’s influence on the city.
For once, he was brought to justice
Penn students have had concerns with campus apartment management over the years, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported, alleging lax maintenance and other complaints.
In 2013, six students filed suits over a Penn property managed by Campus Apartments. They cited “absolutely reprehensible conditions” including mold, rodents and a bathroom ceiling collapse, which Campus Apartments originally claimed was the tenant’s fault, the result of a faulty toilet.
The case ended in a secret settlement.
What is Adelman’s role in 76 Devcorp?
He’s basically the driving force behind the construction of the arena in Center City.
When Sixers managing partners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, announced their plan to build 76 Place on one block in Philadelphia’s Fashion District, they said that Adelman “was given a mandate to locate, design and develop a destination , which serves as a world-class arena.”
Adelman will be working on the project with Mosaic Development Partners, a local black-owned company. He has expressed the importance of “aggressive diversity hiring targets” and said “there is no better place to build an arena in Philadelphia than Center City,” praising the transit access to the site and the surrounding businesses that benefit from it would benefit.
Some community members in Chinatown, which is adjacent to the proposed site, are skeptical of these promises. They worry the arena could lead to increased traffic congestion and soaring property values.
“We view the proposed 76ers’ arena a block from our beloved neighborhood as a threat to the continued existence of Chinatown,” wrote Debbie Wei, founder of Asian Americans United, in WHYY’s PlanPhilly. “What the ’76ers, Adelman, and the billionaires and city officials who came before them don’t realize is that Chinatown will struggle to survive.”
Adelman told The Inquirer that the Sixers’ arena in Chinatown “is not going to displace a business or a resident.” He also said the project’s recent expansion to include the site of the Greyhound bus station on Filbert Street could actually reduce traffic in the neighborhood.
“I think now that we’ve had the big reveal, we need to show people that we’re real,” Adelman told Forbes of the 76 Place project. He has vowed not to take any public subsidies.
Once engagement and planning has begun, demolition is scheduled to begin in 2026, with construction to follow in 2028, with an arena opening in September 2031.