The event was thick with symbolism when costumed Chinese-American youths performed a “lion dance” for the Houston mayor, a congressman and other dignitaries gathered in Chinatown.
The enchanting, eye-catching footwork celebrated the approach of the Asian Lunar New Year as well as the economic comeback of the Chinatown corridor supported by the Southwest Management District.
The occasion on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, was the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a six-story Asian City Center that will contain retail and commercial condominium space, and parking, at the Sam Houston Tollway South and Bellaire Boulevard next to the bustling Dunghuang Plaza Shopping Center.
Restaurants and other businesses along the corridor nearly became a ghost town at the start of the COVID pandemic in March 2020 because of unfounded rumors that the virus was spreading through the area and residents across the city were reluctant to venture out to shop and dine.
But as the rumor was disproved and businesses pivoted to match new consumer habits, Chinatown has roared back like a lion as new restaurants and other business — some owned locally, some owned internationally — have rushed in to join the resurgence.
Gauging the growth trend, Asian City Development Inc. is moving ahead with construction of the center with hopes of adding connected high-rise buildings later.
“The last two years, it has been tough,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told an audience of dignitaries, Houston Police Department assistant chiefs, guests and journalists. “But our presence here today signifies that this is a very resilient community.”
Asia City Development Inc. is headed by Steven Hsu and his wife, Shu-Ying Hsus. The groundbreaking took place in front of the
Hilton Garden Inn Houston Westbelt, which the Hsu established in 2004.
The new project “will bring more employment and consumers to this area,” Steven Hsu told the audience, while businesses that buy units in the complex can look forward to increases in the value of the properties. No other buildings in the area offer commercial space for purchase rather than leasing, he said.
State Rep. Gene Wu pointed out how fast Chinatown has grown — from a single shopping center to constantly heavy traffic on the widened boulevard —since he and his parents arrived in the neighborhood about 35 years ago.
“This is a true statement about the power and the resilience of the Asian community, about the Chinese community, about the Taiwanese community,” Wu told the audience, which included U.S. Rep. Al Green, Houston Council Member Edward Polland and Stafford Council Member Alice Chen.
The center’s condo unit square footage will range from 1,288 to 2,189, with pricing from $386,400 to $798,460. The project is being financed by First Commercial Bank. Nearby is “Asian Wall Street,” where several Asian-owned banks are lined up along Bellaire Boulevard.