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Old Posted Mar 19, 2017, 8:38 PM
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Chinatowns Across The Country Face Off With Gentrification

Chinatowns Across The Country Face Off With Gentrification


March 15, 2017

By Melissa Hung

Read More: http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswit...gentrification

Quote:
.....

Originally formed at the edges of downtowns, Chinatowns held on as such commercial and residential areas expanded. Collectively, they represent more than 150 years of immigrant survival since the first wave of Chinese immigration began in the 1850s. "Chinatowns used to be ghettos because of segregation," said Peter Kwong, a professor of urban policy and planning at Hunter College in New York City. "After the 1965 Immigration Act, you have a resurfacing of Chinatowns all throughout the United States, and particularly in the East Coast."

- An Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) study of Chinatowns in three East Coast cities found that the number of white residents in Chinatowns was growing at a faster rate than the overall white population in those cities. "In fact, the white population in Boston and Philadelphia's Chinatown doubled between 2000 and 2010 while the white populations decreased in those cities overall," the authors wrote. In New York's Chinatown, among all racial groups, only the white population had grown in the decade leading to 2013 when the study was released.

- Although the details may be different in each Chinatown, the results of rising numbers of white residents is the same: the displacement of low-income immigrants. In Boston, luxury towers have replaced traditional row houses, making the area look more generic and less like Chinatown. In New York, garment factories that used to employ immigrants have been turned into doctors' offices and gyms. Contemporary art galleries have moved in, paying four to five times the rent that was paid by the bakeries and herbal medicine shops they supplanted. In San Francisco, families that cram into single room occupancy (SRO) hotels are being pushed out. Once regarded as the housing of last resort, the rooms are now being marketed to tech workers and students.

- Community groups have adopted a variety of strategies to slow gentrification down. Chinatown CDC uses both "hard" and "soft" approaches, said Erika Gee, a senior planner with the organization. The "hard" approach involves organizing residents, bringing media attention to evictions, and advocating for government policies that protect tenants. The "soft" arts and culture approach also touches on community issues, "But it's a celebration of what Chinatown is, what people's experiences are, and doing it in a way that reaches people in a positive way," Gee said.

- In Boston, Angie Liou, executive director of Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), says Chinatown is being hemmed in from all directions by market-rate developments. "This is a capitalist country. So when the real estate market is hot, it goes quickly in the matter of a few years," she said." The developments drive up property values. "Some people might think, 'That's a bad thing?' What you have to know about Chinatown is that the vast majority of long-term residents are renters," she said. "Home ownership is very, very low here, so when you're talking about renters and property values going up, that's to their detriment." While ACDC can build affordable housing units, those projects take a long time.

- Peter Kwong, the Hunter College professor, believes it may be too late for many Chinatowns. Most Chinatowns are no longer truly vibrant immigrant communities where people work, live, shop, and socialize, he said. "By and large, the people have scattered and working-class Chinese tend not to concentrate in areas like these because there's very few jobs." New York City's Chinatown is the one exception because of a large base of jobs, he said. "We are basically the very last stand," he said of anti-gentrification efforts in New York's Chinatown. Kwong criticized mixed-income developments as contributing to gentrification. "Even though they may add units, they're still introducing affluent people into a low-income neighborhood," he said.

- Kwong argues that the best way to halt displacement is through rezoning and laws that protect tenants. For the past eight years, the Chinatown Working Group, a coalition of more than 50 organizations and residents, has worked on a rezoning plan that would restrict height limits, create anti-harassment laws targeted at landlords, generate affordable housing, and protect small businesses in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The Department of City Planning has rejected the plan, but advocates are not giving up. They continue to hold demonstrations on a regular basis outside City Hall to call attention to the issue.

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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 19, 2017, 9:07 PM
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I think that Chicago's Chinatown is an outlier here. It is expanding beyond its traditional boundaries into formerly European-American and African-American neighborhoods. In our city's case, Chinatown is the force of gentrification.

Southsiders help me out, Bridgeport, McKinley Park ... Bronzeville ?... Douglas Park ??

One of a few articles: Here's why Chicago's Chinatown is booming, even as others across the U.S. fade
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Old Posted Mar 19, 2017, 9:39 PM
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^ Absolutely. It is a wonderful and virtuous process and one of the few "good" stories in the otherwise beleaguered south side of Chicago (a reputation not entirely deserved)

Also, in New York Manhattan's gentrification may be killing off the original Chinatown, but multiple new Chinatowns have already formed and are thriving in the outer boroughs.
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Old Posted Mar 19, 2017, 10:44 PM
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This is happening in Los Angeles's city Chinatown. They are not targeting Chinatown only. It is just most of the inner city districts and neighborhoods are are gentrifying. Downtown LA is growing and a "hot" place to build, and live. Chinatown is the northern end of Downtown LA with lots of underused lots especially large parking lots. Many who live there are old timers who live in the several high rise senior housing. Yes there are young families, immigrants of Chinese, Latino, Vietnamese origins in the surrounding apartments. It has always been that way. The Chinese community has expanded and moved east and northeast and scattered rather than concentrated in the San Gabriel valley communities like Alhambra, San Gabriel, Arcadia, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Monterey Park and other communities. Also growing communities in Orange County especially Irvine. Im not sure what the demographic of new Chinese immigrants are, but I think many are more educated with money to buy into the safer, better schools, and do business in these suburbs east of Downtown. Even the more working class immigrants can find homes/rentals and jobs in these suburbs rather rely on the traditional inner city Chinatown which seems largely dependent on tourists/locals who want easy concentrated access to Chinatown.

I have noticed some of the nicer traditional sections of Chinatown are turned into art galleries. Some new food businesses especially vietnamese, fusion asain, New Orleans food, Korean BBQ and a few bars. Still isnt booming unlike other parts of Downtown LA like Little Tokyo, Arts District, South Park. For the most part, most of Chinatown is free of chain anything. Only got a starbucks in past year or 2. No major grocers, major shoppin retail, or drug stores like CVS, Rite Aid, Even a lack of fast food types like McDs, subway shop, though there is a Burger King I think and a failed city Walmart in the western edge, but I think the Burger King will be torn and new housing built.

I should have organized my thoughts better, and too lazy to fix what I wrote, too much march madness in my head.

There are several new mix-used housing projects proposals for many of the parking lots of Chinatown. Surely they will be expensive for the current population to move into. And Im not sure Downtown is desirable for those more affluent Chinese in the suburb to move. This may be the decline of old LA's chinatown.
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Old Posted Mar 19, 2017, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Also, in New York Manhattan's gentrification may be killing off the original Chinatown, but multiple new Chinatowns have already formed and are thriving in the outer boroughs.
The one in Flushing is becoming even bigger as the months go by. Canal Street is going through some changes along with the surrounding streets. Still a thriving, authentic neighborhood, but Flushing, Queens is where its at.

In terms of raw population, the Manhattan Chinatown is 3rd. Even being eclipsed by Chinatown in Brooklyn, especially with all of the newer developments springing up.
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Old Posted Mar 19, 2017, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Also, in New York Manhattan's gentrification may be killing off the original Chinatown, but multiple new Chinatowns have already formed and are thriving in the outer boroughs.
Manhattan's Chinatown may be receding (but it would probably take 50 years to render it tourist-trap status) but the Outer Borough Chinatowns are growing like crazy.

Flushing, Sunset Park, Ave. U., Elmhurst, Bensonhurst, are all forces for massive Chinese geographic expansion. South Brooklyn and Northeast Queens will both probably be close-to majority Chinese at some point.

IMO the most pathetic big-city Chinatown has to be DC. It doesn't even pretend to be anything more than a hokey theme park with no Chinese people or decent Chinese restaurants. At this point they need to put it out of its misery.
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2017, 12:46 AM
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And just to add... New York's outer borough Chinatowns are as vibrant and bustling than Manhattan's Chinatown (if not, more so).
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2017, 1:18 AM
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Originally Posted by streetscaper View Post
And just to add... New York's outer borough Chinatowns are as vibrant and bustling than Manhattan's Chinatown (if not, more so).
Manhattan Chinatown is no more than #3 in NYC at this point.

Flushing is far and away the biggest/best Chinatown. Then Sunset Park, then Manhattan Chinatown. Probably then Avenue U (Gravesend) or 18th Ave. (Bensonhurst).
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2017, 1:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
IMO the most pathetic big-city Chinatown has to be DC. It doesn't even pretend to be anything more than a hokey theme park with no Chinese people or decent Chinese restaurants. At this point they need to put it out of its misery.
I'm not sure how long ago DC's Chinatown stopped being a real Chinatown, but it clearly was long before 2003, the year I moved there.
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2017, 5:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
in New York Manhattan's gentrification may be killing off the original Chinatown, but multiple new Chinatowns have already formed and are thriving in the outer boroughs.
San Francisco is the same (although I don't buy that the original Chinatown is in any danger). But successful Asian immigrants have, for some time, moved away from Chinatown to the Richmond and Sunset Districts which have large and growing collections not just of Chinese residents but also businesses.

These shots aren't Chinatown. They are Clement St. in the Richmond District:




Images: https://www.google.com/search?q=Clem...TdIDuK425T1FM:

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Old Posted Mar 21, 2017, 4:55 PM
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Perhaps declaring more buildings in Chinatown as historical landmarks could cut down on gentrification since only gentrifiers can afford storefronts in new highrises that replace them.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2017, 5:02 PM
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Houston had two Chinatowns; the original downtown one has all but gentrified itself into another yuppie land with apartments and condos running off anything Chinese or Vietnamese. A boring but huge suburban one is thriving west of town.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2017, 5:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
Perhaps declaring more buildings in Chinatown as historical landmarks could cut down on gentrification since only gentrifiers can afford storefronts in new highrises that replace them.
San Francisco declares entire neighborhoods landmarks and Chinatown is one (also Japantown, Civic Center Historic District, Little Saigon and I'm sure others). There will be no highrses in our Chinatown and most types of building uses cannot be converted to tourists uses or yuppie condos. But it's probably illegal to say you have to be Chinese (as opposed to Anglo native born American) to rent an apartment of business venue there.

Here is the most prominent example of what's going on:

Quote:
Exclusive: In change-adverse Chinatown, plans for new offices or hotel
Feb 27, 2017, 3:55pm PST Updated Feb 27, 2017, 4:44pm PST

Roland Li
Reporter, San Francisco Business Times

The former Empress of China building, one of the tallest structures in San Francisco's Chinatown, has been sold for $17.25 million.



The building's new owner has filed early plans for a possible office or hotel conversion of the former upstairs banquet hall previously occupied by the Empress of China restaurant, which closed at the end of 2014.

Fears of change in the building, particularly the creation of tech offices, had previously mobilized community groups, who want to protect Chinatown's low-income residents and small businesses. Community groups including the Chinatown Community Development Center and elected officials held rallies to oppose tech intrusion into Chinatown. CCDC didn't respond to requests for comment but a source said it was meeting with the new owners . . . .

Alfred Tom, one of the sellers, declined to comment.

“We’re being very careful about what’s best for the space," Tom told the Business Times in 2015 . . . .
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfranci...r-tech.html#i1

Note no one is contemplating any change in the building's exterior form. That would be out of the question.
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2017, 5:41 PM
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I guess it's more important for the Chinese stores and restaurants remain as opposed to who's actually living there.
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Old Posted Mar 22, 2017, 7:18 AM
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"restrict height limits"

Uh oh, the "anti-NIMBYs" will be very vocal.
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Old Posted Mar 22, 2017, 7:32 AM
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I guess it's more important for the Chinese stores and restaurants remain as opposed to who's actually living there.
Maybe it's different in some other cities, but In SF's case, Chinatown is 90% chinese. Mostly working class, and tons of immigrants, too.

There's long been the threat of gentrification, and there is a little bit of it here and there...it is SF after all. But it's mostly not a thing in Chinatown, and if gentrification does ever take off there, it'll be at least decade or two before it pushes the majority of chinese residents out.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2017, 12:39 AM
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Toronto's Chinatown largely overlaps with Kensington Market, as it runs along Spadina Avenue between College and Dundas.

It's still pretty sizable, even with other Chinatowns emerging in the east end, Agincourt etc.

I think U of T being nearby helps it significantly.

Vancouver's Chinatown seems to have declined more, even though it has a richer history.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2017, 1:23 AM
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Vancouver's Chinatown seems to have declined more, even though it has a richer history.
Really?

I'd say Vancouver's Chinatown is under far more pressure from gentrification than ours.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-...ticle33351575/
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2017, 1:42 AM
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Toronto's Chinatown was predominantly Jewish until the 1960s (the original Chinatown by City Hall was completely demolished), while Van's dates pretty much back to the beginning of the city.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2017, 4:34 AM
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LA's Chinatown actually used to to be a Little Italy.
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