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Chinatowns

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I started to think about the traditional urban "Chinatowns," specifically they ones denoted by Chinese Gates which bracket in street blocks. And I dug up some [link]"http://www.answers.com/topic/chinatowns-in-north-america"information[/link] and was surprised to find out that there are two areas in Charlotte which are called by many sources "chinatowns." Now it seems like it's a loose interpretation of "chinatown," and from the informaiton I have found a city can have a chinatown if it has a clustering of Chinese business and/or people.

But it got me to thinking that I would ask what people think about International themed neighborhoods. The larger ones, with the Chinese Gate and so forth seem to be tourist destinations, but if you consiter it, they are no different than the chinatowns that are simple clusters of Chinese buildings at any given street corner. Do you suppose there is something more worthwhile about a Chinatown section of a city, as opposed to an unorganized grouping of likeminded peoples. And how does this relationship fit into the fabric of a city like Charlotte. Could we ever have a destination Chinatown, would we want or need one, and if so what is the worth of such a place on a city? I would venture to guess that we would more likely have a "Little Mexico" before Chinatown, but the political ramifications of that would certainly prevent it from being recognized.

Secondly, the idea of International neighborhoods worked into my head. Has anyone found other international neighborhoods of note, and how do they compare to the traditional and well known "Chinatowns" of other cities. I know there are Japantowns in California, due somewhat to the proximity of California to Japan. Apparently Atlanta has a non-descript International Town (wondering if this is a "destination" or simply a clustering). I also think of Little Italy in NYC as well as East End Boston, and maybe Little Havana Miami. Just wondering if anyone would like to discuss.

EDIT: the word I should have used was "district." to differentiate between simply a neighborhood and a recognized district.

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I started to think about the traditional urban "Chinatowns," specifically they ones denoted by Chinese Gates which bracket in street blocks. And I dug up some [link]"http://www.answers.com/topic/chinatowns-in-north-america"information[/link] and was surprised to find out that there are two areas in Charlotte which are called by many sources "chinatowns." Now it seems like it's a loose interpretation of "chinatown," and from the informaiton I have found a city can have a chinatown if it has a clustering of Chinese business and/or people.

But it got me to thinking that I would ask what people think about International themed neighborhoods. The larger ones, with the Chinese Gate and so forth seem to be tourist destinations, but if you consiter it, they are no different than the chinatowns that are simple clusters of Chinese buildings at any given street corner. Do you suppose there is something more worthwhile about a Chinatown section of a city, as opposed to an unorganized grouping of likeminded peoples. And how does this relationship fit into the fabric of a city like Charlotte. Could we ever have a destination Chinatown, would we want or need one, and if so what is the worth of such a place on a city? I would venture to guess that we would more likely have a "Little Mexico" before Chinatown, but the political ramifications of that would certainly prevent it from being recognized.

Secondly, the idea of International neighborhoods worked into my head. Has anyone found other international neighborhoods of note, and how do they compare to the traditional and well known "Chinatowns" of other cities. I know there are Japantowns in California, due somewhat to the proximity of California to Japan. Apparently Atlanta has a non-descript International Town (wondering if this is a "destination" or simply a clustering). I also think of Little Italy in NYC as well as East End Boston, and maybe Little Havana Miami. Just wondering if anyone would like to discuss.

EDIT: the word I should have used was "district." to differentiate between simply a neighborhood and a recognized district.

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While very had to pull off in a city of Charlotte's size, I think that it would be very interesting to have districts like these. When I lived in Sydney, they had a china town just outside their downtown district with the gates and everything. It was really cool to walk through and shop for random trinkets. If Charlotte had more street activity day round then I believe that one of these areas could be financially justifiable. However, as coyote said, these things can't just be built all at once, they need to grow.

Maybe once the cultural facilities and NHOF open, we'll have a larger gathering of people for "districts" to be able to feed off of. It would be interesting to even have a dedicated block of some international heritage a couple blocks down mint or graham the stadium. That way they could attract more people to the 3rd Ward park area and thrive around the time of different events and live off of the condo and future tourist industry in Charlotte around 2010. But with the prices of land at the levels they are now, who is going to stick their neck out to promote this type of industry, let alone build it? The only way it could be justified near uptown is if mid-rise towers were built along this stretch with the china/hispanic/japan/etc-town at the base of these towers. You be the one to convince a developer to do this. Do we have any wealthy Asian developers around town that would be willing to designate an area for a single culture of business? If these things can't be built all at once to be successful, then how would that benefit anyone?

Also, to keep prices down, maybe whenever they dismantle the rail yards near NoDa, the new land along this stretch could help stimulate a brand new cultural theme near the artsy district. That would help play off of NoDa and promote growth for both areas. Having two destinations side by side rather than just one all by itself. Then again, just like coyote said, NoDa also didn't just become designated for art crawls before anything was built there, it just kinda happened.

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Also, to keep prices down, maybe whenever they dismantle the rail yards near NoDa, the new development along this stretch could help stimulate a more cultural theme near the artsy district. That would help play off of NoDa and promote growth for both areas. Having two destinations side by side rather than just one all by itself.

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Charlotte already has a few very distinct ethnic districts. Whether they evolve further into enclaves of various ethnicities will be seen, but I personally hope they do. I think these kinds of various districts in cities give visitors and regular residents alike something interesting to visit and are just one more facet to the city. I am already a Saturday regular at Dim Sum on Central where they do the real Dim Sum carts (only on the weekends) and we usually follow lunch with some shopping in the markets nearby. I wish there was more there, but I suspect it is coming.

South Blvd and Central both have high concentrations of Hispanics and Asians in the neighborhoods around them and businesses on those corridors have sprung up that cater to them. It will be interesting to see how this does evolve. One problem these districts have, which is a mini version of the problem we have all over the city, are the old buildings and storefronts that I've normally seen in other city chinatowns or ethnic districts. Like the rest of the city, these main drags don't really have that building type and are mostly built up with strip centers and box retail. Those have been used for these new businesses, but lack the "walkability" that you usually find in a Chinatown. You won't find many people strolling up and down Central or South where these businesses are.

I hope these areas do further develop with some international identity. They city has had proposals on the table to identify these areas with markers and streetscape plans, but I haven't heard of anything definite.

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South Blvd and Central both have high concentrations of Hispanics and Asians in the neighborhoods around them and businesses on those corridors have sprung up that cater to them. It will be interesting to see how this does evolve. One problem these districts have, which is a mini version of the problem we have all over the city, are the old buildings and storefronts that I've normally seen in other city chinatowns or ethnic districts. Like the rest of the city, these main drags don't really have that building type and are mostly built up with strip centers and box retail. Those have been used for these new businesses, but lack the "walkability" that you usually find in a Chinatown. You won't find many people strolling up and down Central or South where these businesses are.

I hope these areas do further develop with some international identity. They city has had proposals on the table to identify these areas with markers and streetscape plans, but I haven't heard of anything definite.

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I don't expect Charlotte will ever develop a touristy Chinatown, because none of the city's dense districts are available to low-income immigrants. Instead, the east side will develop an organic immigrant community -- especially around Sharon Amity and Central, and Eastway to a lesser extent. But those were suburban areas only a couple of decades ago -- would you tour a suburban area? I wouldn't either. So we will (and already do) have immigrant districts, but not the kind you picture in your head when you think "Chinatown".

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I've been to quite a few Chinatowns in my travels (Boston, NYC, Chicago, Vancouver, San Fran) and although I remember most of them being integrated well into the density of the city, for some reason I remember Chicago's being pushed pretty far from the Loop. Namely, because I remember having to take a train there, and it felt like it was outside the general hustle and bustle of the city. So, not to disagree in anyway with your last point, I wonder if in time we will find satellite city centers spring up around transit stops - especially in the East Charlotte transit corridors. That would be cool.

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Charlotte's largest Asian ethnic groups are the Vietnameses, the owners of Asian Corner are Vietnameses. Asian cultures are heavily linked to food and the availabilities of Asian fruits and produces. Asian Corner has two food markets, New Century and International Supermarket both owned and run by two competing set of Vietnamese sisters. Another thing is that those two sets of sister are capable of speaking other Southeastern Asian languages. The owner of New Century is of Chinese and Vietnamese decent but was raised in Cambodia. The owners of International Supermarket are Vietnameses but some of them are able to speak Laostian. Before Asian Corner was opened, International Supermarket's owners had a previous store on Central Ave and Eastcrest. That location is now runned by a Cambodian family. The owners of New Century at Asian Corner also has another store at Saigon Square (Central Ave infront of Arnold Drive) run by their younger sisters. So if Charlotte does develop a "Chinatown" it wouldn't be a Chinatown because Charlotte's prominent Asian ethnics are Vietnameses, Cambodians, Laostians, and Koreans. Central Ave might evolve into Little Asia and Little Mexico. Asian Corner is another issue as Park N Shop is now Compares Food and is catered towards Hispanics and that is farther away from Central Ave. Whatever happens, Asian food markets will be a factor in the development of an international district followed by some type of Asian resturants besides a Chinese resturant and the same goes for Hispanic food markets.

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