2018 National Planning Conference

Immigrant Gateways: Chinatowns

Monday, April 15, 2019 from 1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198023

Location: 2001

Add to My Log


  • Understand the role and challenges of Chinatowns, and immigrant communities, in city revitalization.
  • Understand the importance of expanding the concept of Chinatowns, and immigrant communities, beyond tourist destinations.
  • Collect tools for encouraging socioeconomic diversity in revitalizing cities.


Historic Chinatowns are valuable cultural and economic assets in major cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Philadelphia. But rising income inequality and limited opportunity for lower-income and immigrant populations are shared concerns of Chinatowns across the country as they face increasing development pressure and a fight for survival as viable places for immigrants to live and work. What makes historic Chinatowns vibrant and thriving neighborhoods is what undergirds the tourist-friendly surface – the residents, workers, small industries, cultural institutions, services and deep-rooted social networks.

This session explores the challenges historic Chinatowns face and expands the concept of Chinatown as more than a commercial district and tourist destination. The panelists share their experiences with the evolving roles of Chinatowns, the real estate pressures contributing to the displacement of residents and businesses, and strategies for change without displacement. Panelists consider the role of central historic Chinatowns vis-à-vis satellite communities within the larger context of urban-suburban transformation as affluent and working-class populations switch places. Speakers also make a case for change that recognizes growth and diversification, celebrates the heritage and culture of Chinatowns, and prioritizes the needs of the most vulnerable populations, especially the need for affordable housing and jobs.

Session Speakers

Stacey Chen, AICP
Interface Studio LLC
Brooklyn, NY

Yue Wu
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
Philadelphia, PA

Ener Chiu
East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation
Oakland, CA

Arthur A. Acolin
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Roy Chan
Chinatown Community Development Center
Oakland, CA