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Asian cultural center and museum planned for Salinas Chinatown

chinatown cultural center
Asian Cultural Experience

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) There is a new cultural center and museum being planned in Salinas' Chinatown. Plans are for it to be at the old Republic Cafe and Lotus Inn buildings on Soledad Street.

The center will focus on the history of the Asian community on the Central Coast. Chinatown in Salinas has become home to multiple homeless camps over the decades.

"This is going to go well beyond just purchasing the building. It's going to be a major renovation project, and it really has to be tied to the revitalization of Chinatown," said Jean Vengua, the co-chair of Asian Cultural Experience.

ACE, an AAPI advocacy and preservation group, is asking for community help to raise $200,000 to help build a new cultural center and museum. Three major ethnicities have been represented in Chinatown over the decades since the 1870s: Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos.

ACE wants to help preserve the history and cultures of these groups.

"It represents a really important historic legacy for Salinas and more recently the Latino community also," said Vengua.

The money would help buy the buildings, which are adjacent to the Victory Mission in Chinatown. ACE needs the money as soon as possible, as Chinatown is still considered a blighted community. That means they can get a discounted price.

The center would feature exhibits and arts, as well as classrooms. It is an important symbol for a community that has been under attack in recent months.

"I think the attention toward the AAPI and what's been happening to them recently has definitely put the spotlight on what's happening among us here," said Vengua.

ACE is looking to buy the buildings some time this year or next year. Renovating the buildings will take years.


A new cultural center and museum is in the works in Salinas’ Chinatown.

The group Asian Cultural Experience is asking the community to help raise $200,000 to buy some old buildings there to create the center.

They want to preserve the history and cultures of the three historic AAPI communities in Chinatown.

KION’s Josh Kristianto will have more tonight on KION News at 10 and 11 p.m.

Central Coast / Monterey County / Salinas / Top Stories / Video
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Josh Kristianto

Josh Kristianto is a weekend anchor and multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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