HomeChinese AmericanHistoric Chinatown building in Detroit set for demolition

Historic Chinatown building in Detroit set for demolition

A long-standing building that stood at what once was the heart of old Chinatown in Detroit could be demolished as soon as Monday.

The Metro Times reports the Ilitch family’s Olympia Development obtained a demolition permit last week, but Councilwoman Gabriela Santiago-Romero says not so fast.

She’s requesting an emergency review and the establishment of what she is calling an “interim historic designation and stop demolition.”

“The (Chinese Merchants) Association, which served as a localized government of sorts with their own elected members by and from the Chinese Community, used the space as their hall, where they helped one another find jobs, practiced what we now call conflict resolution and mutual aid, and provided enrichment programs for youth and seniors alike,” Santiago-Romero said in a letter to various city officials.

She also said the hall served as the location of numerous civil, social, and religious events that brought the Chinese and Chinese American communities together.

A spokesperson for Olympia Development said to Axios that it “continues working closely with the city to develop a broader plan for its real estate,” but gave no indication that it would delay the demolition.

Author Curtis Chin told Fox2 that his grandparents celebrated their anniversary in that building and that his family owned a Chinese restaurant next door.

“They would have Tuesday movie nights where they would show Hong Kong films, Miss China beauty pageants,” said author Curtis Chin. “It was just the community space where we always gathered.”

However Chin says he has mixed feelings about the building’s future.

“I don’t know if at the end of the day it makes sense to keep the building,” Chin said. “But I definitely feel like they should take a pause and get some feedback from people and say, ‘What is the value of this? Is (it) worth it.'”

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