As construction wraps up on Chinatown’s first market-rate apartment project — Equity Residential’s new Jia Apartments (jia means “home” in Chinese) — with a projected occupancy date slated for Sept 10, 2013, another new ground-up project directly adjacent to the apartments will begin construction sometime soon. The new headquarters for the Southern California Teo-Chew Association will be built just north of Jia Apartments along Broadway near the Ord Street intersection.
The Southern California Teo-Chew Association is a cultural center and non-profit community based organization preserving and promoting the Teo-Chew population living here in the Los Angeles area. Also known as Chaozhou in Mandarin, the Teo-Chew “are Han Chinese people native to the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong province in southern China who speak the Teochew dialect” according to Wikipedia.
The new cultural center replaces an older one-story building (now demolished) that once housed the Teo-Chew Association in the same location at 649 N Broadway. A rendering of the new headquarters (posted on-site) shows a 3-story structure designed with traditional Chinese architecture that’s set back from Broadway with an elaborate matching gateway facing the sidewalk and street. Of particular note, the original twin lion statues that guarded the previous center have been saved and will be guarding the new center once again.
According to the poster pinned up in front of the construction site (written in Chinese and translated by my mom!), the new cultural center will also function as a temple for Buddhist prayer service. Apparently, fundraising for the new center is still ongoing and donations for the project are being accepted through East West Bank and Cathay Bank. Construction is expected to take 15 months meaning it could be finished by late 2014.
I am very glad to see new cultural projects like this still being invested in Chinatown as it shows that the Chinese community is still involved, and as a result, helps keep the district’s cultural and historical identity alive. I believe this one block is a great model for the rest of Chinatown to follow: the Jia Apartments inject new investment and money that will bring Chinatown back to relevancy while the new Teo-Chew cultural center helps maintain Chinatown’s “authenticity.”