A’s plans for Howard Terminal ballpark poses threat to Chinatown
(OAKLAND, Calif.) The 20-square block Chinatown community faces a new threat as small businesses struggle to recover as the economy reopens: a new stadium for the Oakland Athletics at the Howard Terminal, according to Evelyn C. Lee, president of the board of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, East Bay Times reports.
Chinatown was first established in the 1870s and has been subjected to catastrophic circumstances including massive earthquakes, recessions, an ongoing wave of gentrification and anti-Asian hate and violence.
However, business owners and members of the community now fear that a new ballpark at the Howard Terminal will cause large traffic jams in the area and deter customers from patronizing shops because access will potentially be cut off, according to Lee.
Concerns over the new ballpark includes traffic congesting Chinatown’s streets while taking up most parking in the area during home games. This could be the case for more than one out of every five days of the year, according to projections based on the home game schedule of the A’s.
The A’s organization said that the Howard Terminal will have 2,000 parking places for the 35,000 seat stadium. While many shoppers come to Chinatown for fresh produce and authentic dining, business owners fear that shoppers may forgo the trouble of dealing with Chinatown traffic for the convenience of dining at the new development.
Other Chinatowns in D.C. and Seattle saw a large decline in business after new stadiums went up nearby, causing rents to skyrocket in the area, ultimately driving out many of the small businesses.
If the new stadium proves to be a cash cow for the city, the gentrification may threaten many of the small businesses that have helped shape the community over the years.
The proposal that features 1.8 million square foot commercial space with 3,000 housing units offers no concessions or benefits to small businesses in the area similar to actions that other developers have taken in the past.
Instead, the A’s have offered a complicated tax scheme that would offer businesses an unspecified amount of revenue but only for capital improvements and wouldn’t go into effect for years, according to Lee.
While many Oaklanders want the A’s to remain in Oakland, the city council can keep a new stadium from spelling disaster for Chinatown.
A term sheet, which could ensure that the new development won’t pose a threat to the current operations of Chinatown, can be created similar to the term sheet created by the Port of Oakland to manage issues such as traffic congestion and a lack of parking.
Other possible terms to ensure compatibility between the Howard Terminal development and Chinatown businesses such as allotting stadium concessions and offering Chinatown’s businesses and other businesses in the area free advertising at the stadium at no cost.