The historic May Wah Hotel was listed as for sale yesterday (June 15).
One of the larger and older buildings in Chinatown, the property at 262 East Pender Street includes four ground-level retail outlets that maintain a Chinese character plus three storeys containing some 120 rooms of low-income housing.
The building was originally a lodging house, constructed in 1913, that catered to single men working in positions of transitory labour, according to Historic Places, a government-funded website.
105 Keefer Street is in the heart of Chinatown, an area facing the same intense development pressures as Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Plans for a 13-storey tower don’t sit well with local residents. King-mong Chan is an organizer with the Chinatown Concern Group. He says the development will displace local businesses and the Chinese seniors who depend on them. King-mong Chan speaks with Redeye host Jane Williams.
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This morning shoppers looking for American flag swimsuits or bright-patterned leggings at Dr. Jay’s streetwear store in downtown Brooklyn were greeted by a flurry of slogans and posters decrying the brand’s owner, Joseph Betesh, as a slumlord. Tenants from 83 and 85 Bowery were gathered with local activists out front, chanting against Betesh’s efforts to evict them.
The tenants, mainly low-income Chinese families, have been organizing against eviction for more than a year and trying to get their apartments recognized as rent-regulated. Back in 2013 the building was bought by Betesh’s Milestone Equities for $62 million. Last March, Betesh refused to renew leases, arguing that the building was not in fact rent-regulated because it underwent substantial rehabilitation. When that didn’t work (they dropped a court case against one of the residents and paid his legal fees) they seemingly changed tactics, deeming the building “structurally unsound” and ordering all the tenants to vacate so they could make repairs.
Tucked behind Toronto City Hall’s curved towers, on Elizabeth Street, is a modest patch of greenery outfitted with bright red benches and blossoming tulips. It’s from this spot — once a parking lot— that historian Arlene Chan reconstructs an image of Toronto’s first Chinatown.
Chan draws on a mix of personal history and research to inform her audience, who joined her Heritage Toronto tour of Old Chinatown on May 14. A librarian turned writer, Chan offers a glimpse into the lives of the city’s early Chinese immigrants.
“Why was there a Chinatown? Why was there such a tight-knit community?” asks Chan, before answering her own question. “It was because the Chinese were isolated. ”
The lot near the corner of Keefer and Quebec streets is no historic gem. Once the site of a garage, it is now covered with gravel and a smattering of parked cars.
But it has turned into a Waterloo for Vancouver’s Chinatown, with a wide range of groups viewing whatever is built there as the indicator species for the future of this small historic neighbourhood.
At the heart of the debate are these questions: Are some buildings just too big for Chinatown? And what will do more to improve this beleaguered area, which has been losing businesses and vitality since the 1970s – more social housing for the poor or more market condos to attract the middle class?
A community meeting about public land parcels on Kneeland Street took place June 7 at the Transportation Building. The site includes the Reggie Wong Memorial Park, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) District 6 Office at 185 Kneeland Street and the Veolia Energy steam power plant at 165 Kneeland Street.
The meeting was the fourth community meeting to present MassDOT guidelines and the Invitation to Bid (ITB) for potential redevelopment of MassDOT Parcel 25 and Parcel 26, respectively the district office and steam power plant.
Reggie Wong Memorial Park is one of Chinatown’s few open spaces. It hosts nine-man volleyball tournaments regularly, a street sport developed by Chinese immigrants with roots in Toishan. A traveling tournament was formed in the 1930s. Local teams today include the Chinese Freemasons, the Boston Knights and the Boston Hurricanes.
They come a couple of evenings a week every summer, teenagers from Brighton, Malden, Quincy, and nearby Chinatown, to a volleyball court at the foot of an old steam plant by the Southeast Expressway.
They come to learn a sport that’s been native to this neighborhood for decades: Nine-man volleyball, a city version of the beach game created by restaurant workers in the 1930s and still played in Chinatowns up and down the East Coast, by new immigrants and established club teams such as the Boston Knights and the Chinese Freemasons.
But this summer, the future of the game’s home turf in Boston is cloudy.