Fight over Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix far from over

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The Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix closed the doors of its iconic market this weekend because of new ownership. But members of the community say they will fight to keep the identity of the building. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix closed the doors of its iconic market this weekend because of new ownership. But members of the community say they will fight to keep the identity of the building. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix closed the doors of its iconic market this weekend because of new ownership. But members of the community say they will fight to keep the identity of the building.

[RELATED: 100+ protesters fight to preserve Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix]

"The kids love coming here," said Cathy Tuncap. "Sometimes we take a break they go see the, um, fish pond and everything, so they're bummed as well."

Tuncap said she will miss having this gem just a short drive away.

"I think it has all the diverse culture, background, you can come in and get Chinese food, Filipino food," she said.

"I'm from Ohio and we didn't have markets like this in the smaller areas of the city," said John Pisctiello. He said makes the 30-minute drive to the Chinese Cultural Center, near Sky Harbor airport, from Goodyear.

"I really like the fact that there's a cultural component to this, it's one of the reasons I like coming here," he said.

"It's a very nice place," said Jim Thomas. "The Chinese restaurant here is fantastic, I've been going there for years."

Thomas said he's been coming here for 15 years, and says it's unfortunate.

"It's business, that's how business works," he said.

"For some reason, the developer wants to take off all the markings of the Chinese center, the rooftops, that were made by hand," said former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

He said he was chief of staff to the then-Phoenix mayor when this place was built.

"The statues that he wants to move away or donate to whoever wants to take them, that were blessed by Chinese religious leaders that came all of the way from China," Gordon said.

He said they want the facade of the building, its adornments, and the garden saved. The developer, who will turn this into office space, has only agreed to keep a small room for community members and maintain the garden.

"He has refused to agree to not take off the roof tile and the symbolisms that identify this as the Chinese cultural center on the basis he said he can't rent it that way," Gordon said.

Gordon added they're not going to give up on maintaining its identity and they want to go back to the table with the developer.

"Hopefully we can do this without either having to designate this a historic monument which would slow down the developer's progress and no one would win, or two go to court, which the community is prepared to do," Gordon said.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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