Chinatown nonprofit to revive banquet hall, add affordable homes

Project would redevelop dim sum restaurant and bring 175 senior units to neighborhood

Chinatown Community Development Center's Malcolm Yeung; 758 and 772 Pacific Avenue (Google Maps, Getty)
Chinatown Community Development Center's Malcolm Yeung; 758 and 772 Pacific Avenue (Google Maps, Getty)

Chinatown Community Development Center wants to revive a popular banquet hall in San Francisco’s Chinatown on the bottom floors of a 15-story affordable housing complex for seniors.

The nonprofit developer has floated a plan to redevelop the defunct New Asia restaurant with a 175-unit complex and new restaurant at 758 and 772 Pacific Avenue, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Two century-old buildings would be razed.

If approved, a new Chinese banquet hall would reverse a long decline of the traditional meeting venues in the oldest Chinatown in the nation. Only the Far East Cafe remains at 631 Grant Avenue.

“It is going to be a challenge, but it’s one that we are absolutely committed to,” Malcolm Yeung, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, told the newspaper.

Plans call for a 15-story affordable housing tower with 175 apartments for low-income seniors. A dim sum restaurant and banquet hall would cover the ground and second floors.

The property would also include laundry rooms, a community room, on-site property management and other services, according to SFYimby.

The 150-foot-tall building would surpass the site’s 65-foot height limit. A formal application has not been filed with the Planning Department.

New Asia, which opened in 1987, ran a pushcart dim sum restaurant by day, with banquets for up to 100 tables. The largest banquet hall in Chinatown in the past two decades closed during the pandemic in 2020, and was converted into a grocery store.

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Its redevelopment would likely require rezoning of the site in the form of a special use district, which can provide relief from certain land use restrictions, according to the Chronicle. A historical review may be in order as well.

The New Asia building was acquired by the city in 2017 for $5 million in order to preserve the banquet hall and add affordable housing. 

Chinatown Community Development runs the 12-story Ping Yuen North Apartments, a public housing property a block north of the New Asia building.

For the 772 Pacific project, the developer is eyeing tax credit investment while banking on the passage of a $300 million affordable-housing bond that will go before San Francisco voters in March.

But redeveloping a major banquet hall that is community-serving is new ground for CCDC.

 “I don’t know if anyone has done anything like this before — an infill redevelopment with an existing business that’s also a critical cultural asset,” Yeung told the Chronicle. “We’re not just bringing in new housing, so I think the challenge will be figuring out how to finance it.”

— Dana Bartholomew

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