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  1. Shiou Huey, a nun from the Jade Buddha Temple off Bellaire and Dairy Ashford, performs a meditation and chant last month next to light offerings from worshippers to gain wisdom. Pu Thieu, right, looks out a window at Hong Kong City Mall in southwest Houston last month. The Chinese name for Bellaire translates to "Hundreds of Profits." May 9, 2007, 1:33AM Opinions vary over naming the growing Asian community on Houston's southwest side By LORI RODRIGUEZ Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle When Christy Chang began guiding wide-eyed Houstonians through the wonders of the city's booming, Asian southwest corridor, she grappled with what to call her tours. Community business leaders annually put out a glossy, fact-filled map that, after much debate, calls the area Chinatown. Discover Houston Tours calls it New Chinatown to distinguish it from Old Chinatown, the original Chinese settlement on downtown's southeast edge. Wikipedia, the popular Internet encyclopedia, refers to the area as one of the younger U.S. Chinatowns. Despite the commonly used sobriquet, however, it doesn't truly reflect the actual makeup of the community. "We have people here from Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Middle East, the Philippines; even among the Chinese there's enormous diversity in cultures and languages," says Chang, who immigrated three decades ago from Taiwan. On her own accord, Chang began calling her group trips through the area the "Asian Heritage Guided Tour," reasoning that it was more accurate as well as inclusive. "This area is not just Chinatown anymore. If anything, it's Asia Town," Chang says. But the dialogue over what to more formally call the area continues. In fact, the six-mile stretch along Bellaire from Fondren to Highway 6 is unlike its much older counterparts in other U.S. cities where Chinese long have held sway. While old Chinatown downtown near the Convention Center dates back to the 1920s, the southwest Chinatown was sparked by the opening of Diho Square on Bellaire by Taiwanese developers in 1983. Construction of the nearby Dynasty Mall shortly followed and, on its heels, waves of diverse immigrants during which the dominant population shifted from Chinese to Vietnamese. Chinatown? Asia Town? While there is no movement to formally refer to the area as "Asia Town," increasingly, that term and others equally more inclusive are being considered and, sometimes, discarded. When Grace Feng, owner of Grace Computer & Internet Corporation, and the China Town Map & Directory decided to produce an area map for visitors and tourists in 2002, the name was a prickly issue. "In the beginning, everybody just called it the Chinatown Map. But we realize there are a lot of voices in the community, not just the Chinese, and we've talked about changing the name," Feng says. After discussions with former Councilman Gordon Quan and other prominent Asian leaders, Feng says it was decided that every major U.S. city has a Chinatown. "Not every city has an Asia Town, so we decided to keep it Chinatown. That's what most people know this area as," she says. Faced with a similar descriptive choice, state Rep. Hubert Vo and area business leaders opted for the broader "International Management District" as the name for a tax-levying agency being considered by the Legislature. If Vo's legislation passes, new Chinatown businesses would pay taxes to be used for area improvements. "The larger community thinks that we all look alike so they still call us Chinatown. But we don't and that term no longer really applies," said Vo, who became the first Vietnamese lawmaker in the state House after winning the District 149 seat in the November 2004 election. "The Taiwanese started coming first; then Vietnamese fleeing the war. People from old Chinatown also started moving here because their businesses couldn't survive downtown. Now, the area has grown by leaps and bounds and more people come in every day." Real estate agent Billy Kung still remembers the grand opening of the Dynasty Mall in 1986; he was a college student in a decade marked by incessant immigration. 'Wall Street of Houston' Today, new Chinatown boasts nearly two dozen shopping malls, hundreds of restaurants and an astounding number of major, mainstream banks. The street signs are in English, Chinese and Vietnamese. The Chinese name for Bellaire translates to "Hundreds of Profits," an apt name for an area where a single street intersection houses a sleek bank on each corner, complete with bilingual signs, information and staff. "Within a two-mile radius of that Bellaire and Corporate intersection, from South Gessner to Boone Road, there are 12 banks," Kung says, earning this segment of Bellaire its nickname as the "Wall Street of Houston." Pristine new malls, restaurants, hotels and apartment complexes abound, most swarming with people of different race and ethnicity. Signs are in an array of languages; English translations may or may not be offered. Chambers of commerce and other business development groups abound. Every Asian/Pacific population has at least one group working toward their economic growth and social welfare; most have dozens. To a degree, it's every ethnic group for itself. But other organizations, like the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association, try to bridge the divide. "Houston stands out from the rest of the country because we're a new, diverse and very rapidly growing Asian/Pacific American population. Our southwest community started in the mid-1970s, as opposed to the ones in New York, Los Angeles and other cities that have been here nearly since the beginning of the republic," says association executive director Jerome Vielman. Vielman says the association was created to promote Asian/Pacific culture and heritage in 1992, the same year that then-President Bush expanded Asian/Pacific Heritage week to a monthlong celebration in May. 'Common denominator' Vielman, who is Filipino, says weaving together the diversity of the Asian/Pacific community can be daunting. "But the way that we come together is to highlight the contributions of Asians who immigrated to the U.S., to their new home. "That's the common denominator." Religion, to a degree, also can be but even the numerous Buddhist and Taoist temples cater to distinct worshippers. "We began as a Chinese temple, but now we get all kinds of people who want to visit or meditate here; we even get Christians and Jews," says Sister Shiou Huey, a Buddhist nun at the serene and architecturally striking Jade Buddha Temple off Bellaire and Dairy Ashford. "We welcome everyone." New Chinatown's metamorphosis into a more multiethnic center, visually, can be dizzying. To some of Houston's earlier Chinese settlers, it also can be off-putting. "There is still some segregation between the groups; the older generation is more hesitant to embrace the changes," including the reference to new Chinatown as Asia Town, says Rogene Gee Calvert. Gee, a board member of the Gee Family Association, which preserves the heritage of one of the city's oldest Chinese families, wants to change that. "The more enlightened leaders know that together we can be stronger," she said. "I think we're getting there."
  2. Dec. 21, 2005, 1:59PM New plans unveiled for Holcombe Square By TOM MANNING Chronicle Correspondent The first phase of a project aimed at improving pedestrian safety in Holcombe Square in the Texas Medical Center will include widening sidewalks, separating cars from pedestrians with a string of live oaks, improving ramp access at street corners, and adding new lighting along Holcombe, South Main and Fannin streets. Read More...
  3. Dec. 22, 2005, 2:40AM A step forward downtown Land purchase could set stage for retail, condos By NANCY SARNOFF Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle A real estate development group has purchased three blocks of prime downtown land, a move that takes it one step closer to building a proposed retail, condominium and office complex on the site. The property was purchased by a partnership between William Denton, CEO of California-based Entertainment Development Group, and Geoffrey Jones, CEO of the Texas Real Estate Fund. The group paid more than $20 million for the property, according to individuals close to the deal, who released the price on the condition they not be identified. The three blocks bordered by Main, Polk, Dallas and Caroline streets are currently used for downtown parking. The developers want to fill the large site with restaurants, shops, offices and residential units in a project called Houston Pavilions. Read More...
  4. Nov. 12, 2005, 9:34PM Parking garage to go up on Main Rubble-strewn space to become 11-story structure By NANCY SARNOFF Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle The lot filled with rubble at the corner of Main and Walker will soon be replaced by work trucks and a crane as a developer prepares to break ground on an 11-story parking garage on the downtown site. Read More....
  5. Sept. 12, 2005, 12:13AM When will commuter rail arrive? Metro CEO says if everything goes smoothly, first of 3 lines to suburbs may be up by 2012 By RAD SALLEE and PATRICK KURP Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Read More...
  6. The Astrodome is housing 15,000 evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina, some of whom were frantically searching for lost family members. Similar evacuation villages are planned at Reliant Center, which will hold up to 11,000 people, and the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown. INSIDE THE DOME Serious concerns, meager comforts Many stressed by overcrowding, malfunctioning bathroom facilities By ANNE MARIE KILDAY and SALATHEIA BRYANT Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Under the expanse of the Reliant Astrodome's massive roof, a small metropolitan area as populated as Bellaire or Stafford has sprung up. Welcome to Dome City. Population: 15,000, big enough for its own newly created ZIP code
  7. Sept. 3, 2005, 7:05PM Katrina evacuee struck by Metro train By PAIGE HEWITT Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle An evacuee who was reportedly listening through headphones and looking at the ground while walking toward the Astrodome was struck by a Metro light rail train this morning, officials said. Read More...
  8. They should at least have a place where people can drop off food or other goods. Over all, I think they are doing a very good job at the astrodome-so far! Btw, San Antonio is going to start welcoming people from New Orleans. My guess is they will be housed in the Alamodome. Thank goodness we (San Antonio & Houston) have huge domed stadiums!
  9. Sept. 1, 2005, 2:22AM Red Cross takes over where hotels leave off More shelters open as people who had rented rooms begin to run short on funds By JEANNIE KEVER Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle As many as 100,000 people from Louisiana and Mississippi have converged on Houston in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps more, especially with an estimated 23,000 people being evacuated en masse from the Superdome in New Orleans and relocated to the Astrodome. Or maybe fewer. No one knows for sure
  10. You're welcome in Houston, and here's why An open letter to the evacuees who have found themselves in Houston: Welcome to Houston. You have been through a lot in the past few days, and the people of this city are eager to help ease your burden in any way we can. You are probably completely discombobulated in any number of ways, as well as worried about your home, your family and friends, your future. You needn't worry, however, about being in Houston. Houston isn't New Orleans. We know that. Nobody ever comes to Houston for the ambience. (Your big airport is called Louis Armstrong. Ours is called George Bush. That kind of sums it up.) But Houston is an extraordinarily friendly and generous place. People will strike up a conversations with you on absolutely no pretext and tell you all about their crazy daughters-in-law and their favorite methods of smoking meat, and they have quite lovely, soft ways of rolling vowels around in their mouths like melting ice cream. You will find the people make you feel more at peace, almost instantly. Now, you will find it confusing that this is called the Bayou City. It turns out there are bayous in places besides Louisiana. It's counterintuitive, but nevertheless so. Buffalo Bayou -- that's the one downtown -- is a wonderful name, kind of Western and Southern at the same time, like Houston. Also, please, if you're staying at the Astrodome, don't worry that you're putting anybody out. Really. We've been trying to figure out what to do with that thing anyway. (We love it but it's sort of like an old blender, y'know? You hate to keep it, you hate to throw it out.) The baseball games have all gone downtown, and actually, if you're looking for work, you could maybe play for the Astros. If meeting Roger Clemens makes you feel so shy you can't hit a baseball, you would fit right in with the team. The football team plays next door to the Astrodome. They will, I hear, go 9 and 7. Not bad, but not worth knocking yourself out for. We hope you get a chance to get out and see Houston, but that's almost impossible without a car, because this is the City that Dead Dinosaurs Built. We love our fossil fuels like they were iced tea. You can drive and drive for 70 miles or so, from a nice beige house with a pool in the 'burbs, past strip malls and strip clubs, into neighborhoods that look a bit like Mexico and a neighborhood that gave birth to a special kind of hip-hop music, through the imposing and slightly gaudy downtown, into a neighborhood where rainbow flags actually outnumber Lone Star flags, past boutiques Paris wouldn't be ashamed of, and eventually wind up at a nice beige house with a pool in a suburb that looks exactly like the one you left 70 miles back. That's Houston. There is also a tiny train running right through a little bit of the city, which you could take down to Hermann Park, where you would see trees and things not too dissimilar to the live oaks and living history in your home city. Go there and enjoy our museums, which really are among the glstening jewels of this town. Anyway, we just want to open our arms to you, our guests. This is a big city, all spread out and jumbled up and not easy to grasp in a day or two. We don't expect you to embrace it the way you do your home. We just hope you like it here.
  11. Sorry texasboy, I hadn't noticed you had already posted the article. I also posted the article in the stadium section. Anyway, I think it would be a very interesting sports event to attend.
  12. IN DEPTH: From the August 26, 2005 print edition High-rise developments will tower over Houston Christine Hall Houston Business Journal High-rise residential and mixed-use developments are reaching for the sky all over town, and there appears to be no end in sight for the trend. Developers, with buildings in the works throughout the Houston area, say Houstonians want the advantages of views and low maintenance that high-rise condos provide. Clear lake creation Historically, buyers have flocked to places like Florida and California for waterfront property. Now the activity is beginning to go where it has never gone before -- Clear Lake. Houston Business Journal
  13. Aug. 23, 2005, 1:17PM America's getting fatter, and Texas is doing its part Associated Press WASHINGTON
  14. Name change After nearly three years, the chic Sam Houston Hotel has a new name. The boutique inn, which opened in 2002 in a historic building at 1117 Prairie, is now known as Alden-Houston. A snag with online search sites was part of the reason for the name change. Sites directed users looking for the downtown property to a hotel on the Sam Houston Parkway. "We needed to find a neutral name," said Bill Franks, president of Spire Realty, which owns the hotel. The only other significant change will be the removal of the lobby's impressive sepia-toned mural of the Battle of San Jacinto, where Gen. Sam Houston led his troops to victory. The company may also open more hotels in other cities, and it wanted a recognizable brand name. "Sam Houston doesn't mean much in Atlanta, Ga., New York City or Chicago, Ill.," Franks said.
  15. Online mapping engine w/ street level photos Hoping to become a more popular Internet destination, a small search engine owned by Web retailer Amazon.com Inc. is testing a mapping service that will display street-level photos of the city blocks surrounding a requested address. The A9.com service, which became available Monday, joins the increasingly crowded field of online mapping. Other major players include America Online's Mapquest.com, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com. A9 is counting on an index of 35 million photographs spanning the neighborhoods of 22 U.S. cities to distinguish its mapping service from the rest of the pack. The Palo Alto-based search engine first began to post street-level photographs of specific addresses earlier this year as part of its Yellow Pages listings. The new service extends that feature by posting photographs of entire city blocks alongside a traditional map showing a grid of streets. A9 believes the street-level photos will provide a more helpful view than a recent Google mapping upgrade that provides a satellite eye's view of neighborhoods. "We're making maps slightly less abstract and closer to the real world," said Udi Manber, A9's chief executive. When a user asks for driving directions on A9, the service also will provide photos of all the businesses along the recommended route, provided the images are stored in the search engine's index. The index already has added about 15 million more pictures since the January debut of the Yellow Pages service. Amazon has been building the index by dispatching trucks equipped with digital cameras and global positioning system, or GPS, receivers. Even though it's backed by an Internet heavyweight, the nearly 2-year-old A9 remains a relative lightweight in the lucrative search engine industry. In June, A9 processed just 4.9 million search requests, ranking it 27th among Internet search engines with a U.S. market share of 0.1 percent, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. A9's maps will display photos from 22 cities: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver, Detroit; Fargo, N.D.; Houston; Los Angeles, Miami; New York; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Washington D.C. A9's Maps
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