When employees arrived at the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center near 44th and Van Buren streets this morning, something was missing
At least one sign in front of the historical site signifying the cultural center had been plastered and painted over, leaving only the physical address.
Members of the Chinese and Asian-American communities say the removal of the cultural center's name from the sign was the result of a recent change in ownership.
Tenants at the center and members of the Chinese-American community have been attempting to negotiate with the new owner of the property, True North Companies, since the Scottsdale-based company purchased the property in June, according to Thomas Simon, a consultant for the Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix.
"They won't return calls, but have time in the middle of the night to sneak out and cover up the cultural name on the front of the building," Simon said. "It just says volumes. It just says 'shove it.' That's how [the community is] taking it."
True North Companies Chief Executive Officer David Tedesco did not return a call from Phoenix New Times.
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"The Chinese people are very respectful, and they're taking this as a sign of disrespect," Simon said.
Garry Ong, a spokesman for the coalition formed to save the Chinese Cultural Center, held a press conference at the restaurant Szechwan Palace in the center to discuss the disheartening move to mar their signs.
Ong announced that the cultural center's new owner agreed to meet with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. He said he's hopeful the mayor will convince the new owner to leave the rest of the cultural center unscathed.