The LABJ posted an article today entitled Sushi to Kimchi: Koreans Replace Japanese in Little Tokyo regarding a key real estate transaction in which Korean-Americans will own the shopping center in Little Tokyo where Mitsuwa is currently operating.
In a transaction that marks a turning point for the area, the Little Tokyo Shopping Center last week was purchased by a group of Korean-American investors. While non-Japanese landlords of Little Tokyo properties have become common, this sale of the large shopping mall on Alameda Street will lead to a cultural change: Korean businesses, including a grocery, spa and electronics store, will replace the current Japanese tenants, said Ryan Oh of Coldwell Banker, who brokered the deal for the new owners.
Little Tokyo and nearby downtown have seen an influx of Korean-Americans as well as non-Asians, he explained. Meanwhile, much of the ethnic Japanese population has slowly decamped for Torrance and other areas.
The article goes on to describe that some members of the Little Tokyo community have expressed unhappiness about this. It also says that the shopping center, though Korean owned, will not be targeted just to the Korean community, but will cater to the new downtown residential neighborhood with English-language ads.
Another point of interest: Little Tokyo falls under the protection of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which offers assistance to help maintain its “cultural roots.” Design guidelines require buildings to reflect Japanese themes, and signs can only be posted in Japanese and English. Will this change in demographic mean a shift in those policies?
Photo by -Lori- used under Creative Commons License