SEATTLE — Seattle's Chinatown-International District (CID) is among an unfortunate list released annually by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP).
The NTHP has included the CID in its 2023 edition of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, marking the first time Washington state has been included on the list since it was introduced in 1988.
"The Seattle Chinatown-International District is an extraordinary place of cultural exchange and resiliency. It has rallied to protect its unique cultural identity from large-scale development before, and the community is joining forces once again to urge decision-makers to follow a more transparent, equitable process for transit development in the neighborhood," noted Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Chinatowns and other communities of color across the country have been heavily impacted by transit infrastructure, and now is the time to shape a new path forward, one that prevents further losses and centers the community in determining how to balance important infrastructure improvements with celebrating its culture, people, and economic development potential."
Tensions have risen within the neighborhood in recent years as concerns over public safety and potential transit expansion heighten.
In March, the Sound Transit Board once again delayed making a recommendation for the location of the light rail station near the CID.
Sound Transit originally planned for a new station in the middle of the CID. However, it was expected the board would recommend a new location after pushback from the local community.
Leaders from the CID took to the mic on Tuesday in the heart of the historic neighborhood.
"What legacy will we leave to our children in our community if we let another Chinatown International District die in this country," said Joël Barraquiel Tan, executive director of the Wing Luke Museum.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell released a statement that read:
"Seattle's Chinatown-International District is a treasure -- a cherished place special to people across the city, country, and world. Recognizing historic harm faced by this neighborhood, our administration's commitment is to preserve, invest, and uplift the CID -- taking action through enhanced programs to address encampments and help people into shelter, increased litter and graffiti removal, and coordinated public safety efforts. This is coupled with supporting small businesses, helping neighbors stay in their homes, and engaging in the long-term efforts -- like working with Sound Transit to prevent irreparable harm -- needed to preserve the CID for decades to come. We will continue to work with neighbors and community leaders to advance our shared vision for a healthy, thriving Chinatown-International District."
Those working and living in the CID have been outspoken for months about the impacts a Fourth or Fifth Avenue station could have in the heart of their home. A few months ago, transit officials shifted their focus to a third option: a station north of the CID and one south of it, rather than a sole station in the heart of the CID.
The CID is one of two Chinatowns nationwide to be included on this year's list, along with Philadelphia's.