Most of the buildings that make up San Francisco’s Japantown Center are being sold, raising concerns that it will be turned into a lifeless strip mall or condo complex.
A petition is circulating calling for a halt to the sale by Kinetsu Enterprises of America, and the concerns could be real. The popular Japantown Bowl bowling alley, also owned by Kinetsu, was sold a few years ago and turned into a condo complex despite huge community opposition.
The nearby AMC Kabuki movie theater is also being sold by its owner, raising questions for the annual S.F. International Asian American Film Festival, which is based at the Kabuki.
Japantown remains a cultural icon and economic center, but the Japanese American community that once thrived in the neighborhood disappeared during World War II when its residents were sent to internment camps.
If you’ve been to Japantown lately, I hate to say it, but the buildings are a little dated and, as someone said in the Chronicle story, maybe a new owner would come in and make things better.
Japantown owner Kinetsu Enterprises has said it will look for a buyer that will keep the community in mind. Hopefully, it won’t roll a gutter ball like it did when it sold Japantown Bowl.
This posting is also on Hyphen’s blog.