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Don't forget it, Jake: Fresno's Chinatown at a crossroads

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Fresno’s Chinatown needs help. City Hall, though, is focusing its development efforts elsewhere.

The cold shoulder isn’t just my imagination.

“Sadly, Chinatown does not get the same attention that Downtown does, not only from our city but from our investment community, as well,” Council Member Oliver Baines told me last week. Baines’ District 3 includes Chinatown.

“Chinatown has in many cases been left behind in terms of the economic growth that we see occurring, particularly in the Downtown area. We do everything we can in our office to raise attention to that (state of affairs). Chinatown has crime issues, particularly a very bad homeless problem that we are trying to combat head on. But we’ve got to do more for our Chinatown business owners.”

Of course, this has been Chinatown’s reality for decades. Why does City Hall indifference matter now?

To put it simply, high-speed rail.

The bullet train’s depot, the first of its kind in America, will be built in the Downtown area of Mariposa and H streets, just to the east of Chinatown. Travelers from throughout the nation and the world will be coming to Fresno.

City leaders for years have been trying to revitalize Downtown. The inspiration for this immense effort is manifold. It’s sufficient here to note that much good work has been done. Bullet train passengers, even if just passing through, will see an increasingly robust Downtown Fresno.

As things stand now, they’ll also see a devastated Chinatown.

George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

5 Comments

  1. And where will all of our ‘homeless’ people be along with the rest of the broken window issues? How will these issues be kept out of sight?

  2. The proposed solution to Chinatown about 30 years ago was to condemn it, level it and peddle the vacant land to Ed Kashian to redevelop as a modern commercial area. This idea surfaced after Highway City fought a similar proposal off. The Chinatown folks battled to keep Kashian out. Over the years since, Chinatown has been slowly dying. Quite a few of the older buildings have burned down and the homeless have gradually taken the area over.

  3. I love the free parking in China Town and often go there for a good meal though was saddened when Paris Cafe literally gave up the ghost. I also miss Come & Get It Chicken & Waffles. Give people a reason to go somewhere, and they will go. Wish the city would help small businesses get a foothold in China Town.

  4. I driven through Chinatown yesterday and COULDN’T BELIEVE how decimated and barron it looked. The homeless people took it over smh. I remember going there as a kid. Fish mamasan giving me a toy every time I went into Central Fish. Its very very sad to see the current condition of Chinatown. I’m not really sure if HSR will help it. It will create basically a wall to divide DTF and chinatown.

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