Asian-American Week: Booming Asian-American Population In SI Wants Chinatown
2010 Census figures showed a dramatic increase in the number of Asian Americans living on Staten Island and that has some in the community wondering whether a decades-old push to create a Chinatown there could finally become a reality. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed this report.
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There's a Chinatown in Manhattan, a Chinatown in Brooklyn and even something of a Chinatown in Flushing, Queens.
And while there are more and more Asians living on Staten Island today than ever before, the borough still doesn't have one:
"There's no spot only for Asian people," said resident Jane Silveray. "It's spread out."
Staten Island has an Asian food market in Chelsea, the only one of its kind on the island. It draws many shoppers looking for particular spices and produce.
The overwhelming number of its patrons are Asian immigrants, looking to find the foods of their native countries.
While some say they still travel off the island to Brooklyn and Manhattan to do their shopping, many cite the high cost of tolls and transportation as a reason to frequent this store and not leave the island.
Still, some wish the borough offered more amenities to its growing Asian population.
"Grocery stores, more grocery stores," said resident Jackie Ling. "And some kind of Chinese restaurants, like little, what we call a Hong Kong-style cafeteria. That would be very nice."
While much of the island's Asian population is spread out all over the borough, Mosel Avenue in Concord is home to a high concentration of Chinese immigrants.
About 10 years ago, NY1 News talked to residents about the convenience of having a Chinatown in their own backyard, though the idea hasn't drawn much traction.
Community leaders say part of the challenge of creating a Chinatown on Staten Island is finding a location for it. They point to the borough's reputation as a place where people can buy a home and not necessarily as a place where it's easy for new immigrants to start a business.
"This is comfortable to live here," said activist George Lee. "But is not comfortable to make a business in here. That's the problem."
Residents say they'd love to change that but say they need help from their elected officials to do so.
They say if public money was spent to build an Asian school or senior center, Asian businesses would form around them and a Chinatown would be born.