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Creating community-serving retail and micro-enterprises in Chinese society buildings

Creating community-serving retail and micro-enterprises in Chinese society buildings

宗親會樓房內開辦服務社區的零售小店和微型企業

Increased development in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood creates pressure on existing retail and small businesses. Rising land and rent prices – and the general scarcity of affordable commercial spaces – threaten their sustainability while new commercial functions cater mostly to a far more affluent demographic and are detached from the community’s cultural heritage. This loss of cultural identity is particularly apparent in Chinatown and Strathcona. At the same time, there are many street-facing underutilized buildings in these areas that could provide far greater benefit to the community.

Joji Kumagai of the Strathcona BIA, Wilco van Bemmel of Walas Concepts and June Chow of the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown, have recently taken the initiative for a project to create community-serving retail in underutilized Chinese society buildings. Our project will create opportunities for affordable retail and micro-enterprises that serve the community, strengthen the local culture with functions that fit the community fabric and cultural identity, provide inclusive employment opportunities and improve the public realm by activating storefronts and streets.

The City of Vancouver has awarded a DTES capital grant for phase 1 of our project. In this first phase, we search for potential locations, assess retail and service gaps, build partnerships with Chinese societies  and BIAs, conduct / collect research on what type of enterprises to attract and how to support them, and raise funds. In the second phase (2018 and onwards) we secure tenants, finalize capital details, engage local residents and start repurposing one or two locations in Strathcona and Chinatown. Once these are successful, we will scale-up our concept to other Chinese society buildings as well.

Please feel free to contact project manager Wilco van Bemmel (604.368.4600, wvanbemmel@teamwalas.com) with any questions, suggestions or comments.

市中心東端不斷發展,區域內的零售業和小本生意面臨壓力。地價上揚,租金上漲,加之商業空間普遍緊缺,這些都令許多零售店舖和小本生意難以為繼。再者,新進駐的商業多為富裕人群而設,並與當地文化底蘊幾無關聯。這些文化認同和歸屬感漸漸失去,有目共睹,尤以唐人街和士達孔拿為甚。與此同時,區域內有許多面向街道的樓房,若能善用活用,相信會給社區帶來更大的便利。

我們是士達孔拿商業促進會的 Joji Kumagai,Walas Concepts 公司的 Wilco van Bemmel,以及青心在唐人街的周慕慈。我們共同發起了一個項目,旨在活用更多宗親會樓房空間,開創為社區服務的零售業。我們這個項目將扎根社區,帶來平民百姓可以負擔的零售店舖,帶來微型企業的創業機會。我們的項目會使當地文化用得其所,融入街坊社區的人情味,增強文化的認同和歸屬感,提供全面的就業機會,並改善公共環境,帶來熱鬧的商鋪和街道。

我們這個項目的第一階段,已得到溫哥華市政府撥款支持(市中心東端2017項目資金)。在第一階段,我們會尋找潛在的改造地點,評估零售和服務供需的缺口,與各個宗親會和商業促進會建立合作關係,研究何種企業和商鋪適合,如何吸引並支持它們,並開展籌款活動。在第二階段(2018年及以後),我們將確定租戶,擬定詳細的資金方案,與當地居民交流,並在士達孔拿和唐人街進行一處或兩處的試點改造。一旦這些成功,我們將會把這個創意應用到其它宗親會的樓房。

我們歡迎你提出問題,建議,和意見。請你聯絡我們的項目統籌 Wilco van Bemmel (604.368.4600, wvanbemmel@teamwalas.com)。廣東話: 周慕慈 (778.866.0817, june.m.chow@gmail.com)