In 2012, rather than looking at a thrift store that has seen better days, we will see a 10-acre retail area. Detractors have called it an impersonal “mall” — stating that it will damage family-owned businesses in Little Saigon, driving away some of the character that makes the International District unique.
On the flipside, proponents have said that a new development would liven up the area, bring in more business and more people down to the area so that everyone would benefit from the larger clientele.
Over the past three years, developers and some community leaders have been at an impasse over this issue. There has been plenty of contention and difficulties over this development. There have been protests and hearings, angry words spilled publicly. It is commendable in the sense that people are really committed to our community.
However, perhaps their passion for the community has been taken to extremes. Unfair rumors floated around the area, stating that the project would kill Little Saigon.
What is also commendable is the developers’ willingness to listen and to adjust throughout the whole process.
In addition to the Target and the 50 retail stores, developers have amended the plan to include affordable housing units, family housing units, and $2 million to support community business and nonprofits. Additionally, they are doing it all in a tight space of 10 acres compared to the 45 acres utilized in Factorias development.
Here at Northwest Asian Weekly, we are glad that the project is moving forward because we feel that had it dragged on for much longer, it wouldn’t have come to fruition. Perhaps the best lesson to be learned from the project is that shouting across the table is not the best method for trying to get things done. Another lesson is the importance of attending meetings to become informed.
However, in the end, we are glad that an agreement was reached, that the community feels that their needs were addressed and that they are getting the best deal out of the project. ♦