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Chinese Groups Petition Phoenix Council To Preserve Cultural Center

Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Raymond Tang presents a petition to the Phoenix City Council requesting long-term preservation of the Chinese Cultural Center.

Members of the Valley’s Asian community are pressuring Phoenix leaders to save the Chinese Cultural Center.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Raymond Tang, president of the Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix, presented a petition asking councilmembers to take up the issue of preserving the center within 15 days or at its next policy meeting.

In part, the letter states “For two decades, the Chinese Cultural Center has been our state’s only bridge for introducing not only Phoenicians, but all Arizonans to Chinese history, culture, architecture and cuisine.”

The Arizona Republic reported a new property owner plans to turn the location near 44th and Van Buren streets into a business center and corporate headquarters. That worries people like Andy Zhang, vice president of the Arizona Asian Alliance and an immigrant from China.

“We’re a country of melting pot, right?” he said. “Before coming here I was told America’s a county of melting pot. So to save this Chinese Cultural Center in my view is to preserve the idea, the value, the melting pot ideal.”

Before COFCO, a Chinese state-owned company, opened the center in the late '90s, Zhang said Chinese artisans used traditional materials and techniques in its design.

“So you can’t possibly replicate it now and you certainly can’t move it elsewhere,” he said. “Because once you dismantle it, it’s damaged. It’s gone.”

He said they hope to convince the new owner to avoid demolition.

Community groups are also trying to get the city’s historic preservation department to designate the property as culturally significant, which might help protect the architecture.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.