Southland Firm Develops Chinatown Near Houston : Hubei Province Government Participates in Joint Venture Financing of Residential-Business Complex

Huntington Beach-based Mandarin Investment Corp., has undertaken a major project near Houston--a master-planned 230-acre Chinatown to be called Tang City, after the Tang Dynasty.

Calvin M. Leung, company president, said that more than 85% of its first-phase, 88,000-square-feet of leasable space called Tang City Mall, is already taken. Work began last October and is financed by Lamar Savings & Loan Assn of Houston.

He said his firm has signed joint-venture contracts with an agency of the government of Hubei Province, China, which, he said, is interested in obtaining a "toehold" in the U.S. free enterprise system.

The $9-million first phase of the nine-acre shopping plaza will include a 30,000-square-foot Oriental department store featuring products of Hubei Province, a grocery-drugstore and an Oriental furniture store. Work is expected to be completed in May, with a grand opening in June. A fourth building will be added in the second phase to give the mall a total of 120,000 square feet of leasable space.

Leung said ground will be broken in April for a 40,000-square-foot, two-story office building in the Tang Professional Center. The $3.8-million structure is expected to be completed in about five months.

Another project, Tang City Square, is scheduled to be launched in May. The first phase will include the construction of 29 condominiums that will have retail stores on the ground level and living quarters on the second floor.

The stores will contain 950 square feet and the condominium units will have 1,500 square feet. They will be priced in the $175,000-$180,000 range, Leung said.

In conjunction with Hubei Province, a six-story, 240,000-square-foot trade center is planned where Chinese products can be displayed on a permanent basis. It would be the largest Chinese trade center in the United States, according to Leung.

He said that as a further expression of interest in the Tang City development, Hubei Province will donate three large Chinese classical archways, each spanning 40 feet, and four two-story gazebos.

Leung said Houston has an Asian population of 170,000, of whom 70,000 are of Chinese descent. Tang City will be located about 14 miles southwest of downtown Houston.

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