Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Red Robe tea shop Old Town - a Non Sequitur

The Oregonian article was mostly about the tea shop, but there was more to it even though unintentional. A tea shop one block from the one in Lu San Chinese Garden? Louis Lee: "We're trying to find the formula for success in Chinatown." He might well want to rethink that a few more times.

A another tea shop in a true Chinatown like that in San Francisco might well make sense. This shop is in Old Town that is located in neighborhood misnamed as Old Town/Chinatown. A Chinatown Gate doesn't a Chinatown make. There is next to zero Chinese living in Old Town or even working in Old Town. Chinese businesses have long vacated Old Town.

It is interesting that the tea shop owners had a restaurant on the edge of Old Town that they sold and went to work for someone else to make money for their children's college education. Is the tea shop a retirement endeavor?

The absence of Chinese or Asians in Old Town casts doubt on the value of the tea shop as a community center for Cantonese speaking Chinese or others, and it casts doubt on Mr. Lee's grasp of development issues in Old Town and efforts to make Old Town livable and safe.

If Mr. Lee's efforts is directed to making Old Town a Chinese community then he hasn't thought it through. Neighborhood vision and development planning documents looks to an inclusive community. Moreover, that Chinese neighborhood concept has been tried before without success. E.g., Pacific Tower was originally to be for Chinese occupants but attracted no takers.

Nor is it clear that PDC should be using pubic dollars for this endeavor.