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Phoenix residents hope to save Chinese Cultural Center with online petition

(Photo by Lee Benny‎/Facebook)

PHOENIX — A group of dedicated residents are fighting to save the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center from being demolished by using an online campaign.

Jennifer Yang, a resident from Gilbert, Arizona, is asking seven state officials to preserve the center after its new owners have been rumored to “strip away all elements of Chinese culture,” the petition reads.

“This would destroy an important piece of Arizona’s history. We urge you to preserve our Chinese cultural heritage, Phoenix’s first Chinatown,” it continues.

As of Tuesday night, the petition has more than 5,600 of the 7,500 signatures it needs to be sent to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix councilwoman Kate Gallego, state Sens. Kimberly Yee and Katie Hobbs and state Reps. Ken Clark and Lela Alston.

Many of the petition’s signers commented on the sense of community the center has brought them over the years.

“My family and I buy Chinese food there every weekend, it helped us release homesickness. We are so proud of that specific Chinese culture building here in Phoenix,” read one comment.

“We have to preserve their own culture. It always educates the public of Chinese culture and food. This must stay!” read another.

Center could change under new owners

The Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center, located near 44th Street and Van Buren Street, was built in the 1990s by the COFCO Group, a state-run enterprise of the People’s Republic of China. The center also host Chinese New Year celebrations and is home to numerous gift shops and restaurants.

It was bought by True North Companies, a private equity firm based in Scottsdale in June. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, the new owners “may look at changing” the center’s “distinctive architecture.”

“True North plans to modernize the center and move 300 employees there. Proponents of the center are pushing the city to declare it a historic center,” the Journal reported.

Petition says center conserves Chinese culture, history in Phoenix

According to the petition, the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center was built with the help of “community volunteers and donations from local Chinese immigrants.”

“Special materials and supplies were brought from China, and skilled workers from China spent years making this one of the most beautiful Chinese Cultural Centers in North America,” it continued.

Preserving the center will “benefit business and long-term development of the area, and maintain an important piece of Arizona’s history,” the petition argues.

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