BOSTON-If all goes according to plan, the city’s Chinatown will undergo a major transformation in the next few years. Developers have projects in the works that will bring more than 1,000 residential units and nearly 100,000 sf of office and retail space along with a hotel and a biomedical research facility to this predominantly Asian neighborhood.

Among the largest of the projects is a 28-story mixed-use tower that locally based Weston Associates plans to build on the site of a Stuart Street parking lot. Nearby at 640-680 Washington St., a 650,341-sf project known as Liberty Place is already under construction. That development will add more than 400 rental units and 6,289 sf of ground-floor retail space to the market. Meanwhile, just down the block at 659-679 Washington St. , Kensington Investment Co. plans to build a $120-million, 346-unit apartment building called “Residences at Kensington Place,” complete with retail storefronts and restaurants on the site of the historic Gaiety Theatre.

Five other projects, including a biomedical facility for Tufts University, are already planned or in development in the 25-block area that makes up the neighborhood.But all those new development projects have some Chinatown activists alarmed.

“The issue of gentrification is hitting the community harder and faster than we expected.” Alice Leung, a community organizer with Boston’s Chinese Progressive Association, tells “Chinatown has just become this development hotspot.” Leung says some Chinatown residents are already feeling the pinch with double digit rent increases that have put a strain on households where the median family income averages $22,000 per year.

Mary Fuller, director of communications and development for the Asian Community Development Association, a nonprofit development group in Chinatown, tells that residents are worried that the new developments will drive housing prices even higher and force Asian-owned business to close. “It’s definitely a high pressure time right now in Chinatown.” The organization builds housing with an affordability component that is between 20% to 30% higher than the 15% required by city regulations. “I sense that people are worried the type of projects that are being built in Chinatown will really have the potential to change the character of the neighborhood.”

But a spokesperson with the Boston Redevelopment Authority tells that officials have worked closely with Chinatown residents to ensure that it remains one of the most thriving cultural neighborhoods in the city. “We will continue to work closely with the Chinatown neighborhood to create a vibrant business district, increase affordable housing throughout the area and make progress on important neighborhood improvements.”

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