Hundreds of people from the Valley’s Asian-American community gathered outside Phoenix City Council Chambers Wednesday to protest potential renovations that could change the character of the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix.
The center, at 44th Street near Loop 202, was sold in June to True North Cos., which plans to renovate the property as a business center and corporate headquarters.
A judge last month issued a temporary restraining order preventing certain parts of the complex from being demolished until Nov. 3, when a more detailed hearing is scheduled.
True North has offered to maintain the center’s Chinese garden; preserve and relocate sculptures and other architectural elements; and make available extra pallets of roof tiles.
For the more than 16,000 people who signed a petition asking that the full center be saved, though, those offers weren’t enough. The Phoenix City Council on Sept. 12 voted to allow supporters to commission a survey analyzing the historical significance of the property, after city staff said it couldn’t make a solid case for a historic-preservation designation with the information available.
On Wednesday, several hundred protesters marched around the chambers, carrying signs that read, “Phoenix City Council Keep Your Promise” and “Save the Chinese Cultural Center.”
Others stood on the sidewalk holding signs while singing a Chinese song.
Supporters argue the roof and other design elements have cultural and historical significance, partly because they were created by Chinese artisans using rare materials from China.
Samuel Huang, who supports the preservation, said, “It’s one of a kind in Arizona and it is really hard to find in the whole United States. It’s a very fine garden, the architecture is rarely found in the United States. All the stone was brought from China and the technique, you cannot see here.”
Frank Zhang,the president of Arizona Asian Alliance, said: “Twenty years ago, the city of Phoenix sent two officials to China, along with a developer to grant a special visa to invite 30 Chinese artists come here to view this place.”
A lawsuit filed by the Arizona Foundation for Chinese Religious accuses the city of Phoenix of violating the Chinese-American community’s right to freely expressed its religion by allowing potential destruction of the garden.
“It takes 5,000 years for Chinese culture to develop, but it only takes days for True North Company to destroy it,” said Zhang.
The council was meeting Wednesday afternoon, but had no agenda item relating to the issue.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2yKosv3