Boston's Chinatown is going the way of other ethnic neighborhoods in the U.S.: It's disappearing. The culprit? Real estate. The Globe's Nikita Lalwani has this startling stat in an excellent breakdown of the neighborhood's identity crisis: "The influx of high-end developers in Chinatown is a relatively new phenomenon, said Sheila Dillon, director and chief of housing for the Department of Neighborhood Development. In 2010, there were 2,114 residential units in Chinatown, of which 987 — or nearly half — were deed-restricted as affordable. That was an 'amazing number,' Dillon said. But, three years later, that percentage has shrunk and keeps shrinking."
There is new affordable-housing development going up in Chinatown, a lot of it ostensibly designed to ebb the displacement of first- and second-generation Chinese. As many as 416 new affordable housing units are planned or under construction in the Chinatown area, including 48 through 120 Kingston Street (pictured), a market-rate tower wherein land was deeded nearby for affordable units.
Still, a sense of inevitability infuses the hand-wringing over Chinatown's future. As Lalwani points out, it's a catch-22: The rapid gentrification of downtown Boston (and, yes, it's gentrification, for better or for worse) means that its real estate is more popular than ever. A lot of that gentrification in Chinatown in particular has been due to Chinese and Chinese-Americans, who have worked to improve the neighborhood. That improvement has made Chinatown more desirable real estate-wise and ... well, you get the picture. See it while you can.
· Chinatown Residents Fear Being Pushed Out [Globe]
· 120 Kingston Street, One Year On [Curbed Boston]