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A field in FDR Park during the day. Multiple shops have set up along the edges of the clearing under portable tents.
Photo credit: Southeast Asian Market in FDR Park.

The Southeast Asian food and cultural market in FDR Park will now have a permanent home

Though an informal market has stood for decades, new funding will allow the market to take permanent residence in FDR Park.

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Philadelphia Parks and Recreation have announced that in conjunction with the City's Department of Commerce, the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, and the Fairmount Park Conservancy that the Southeast Asian food and cultural market now has a permanent home within FDR Park.

Located in the southwest corner of FDR Park, the Southeast Asian market will be set between the existing skatepark and the developing wetland. 

As the site has now been confirmed, the City and its partners are beginning the work of designing the infrastructure and amenities necessary to house the permanent cultural market.

“The vendors at FDR Park are some of the most talented, creative entrepreneurs in our city,” said Sarun Chan, Executive Director of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia in a press release.

“Standing alongside the City to announce the location of the market’s permanent home at FDR Park is a moment for these vendors and our entire community. It represents not just an opportunity to grow their businesses, but as a further recognition that their city, and their neighbors, value the rich cultural experiences and flavors that the ethnically diverse Southeast Asian American community brings to Philadelphia’s public spaces and food scene,” he continued.

To fund the planning and design of the physical market site and infrastructure, the Department of Commerce issued a $100,000 small business development grant to the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia in 2022.

The Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia will use the grant to oversee the design process in partnership with the Vendors Association, who represent the long-time vendors and cultural traditions of Southeast Asian immigrant communities across the city.

Currently, an informal Southeast Asian market has already been standing for decades in FDR Park. An economic study done by Urban Partners found that the FDR Park food and cultural market attracts nearly 200,000 annual visitors, creating a direct economic impact of at least $5.75 million. 

Additionally, the market creates at least 92 full time positions, two thirds of which are filled by small business owners and entrepreneurs. The study was funded by the Knight Foundation, a group of social investors who's funding includes free expression, journalism, and arts and culture in the community.

“The FDR Park Plan is building a sustainable future for one of our city’s most diverse public spaces,” said Fairmount Park Conservancy Executive Director Maura McCarthy. 

“A new, permanent home for the Southeast Asian market is an important milestone in our effort to create a modern, welcoming park that provides reliable places for communities to gather without having to move constantly due to regular and worsening flooding,” she continued.

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