High Speed Rail constructions making it harder for loyal Chinatown patrons to get to businesses

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the early days of Fresno, Chinatown was full of life. Now, the few customers that visit the area are having a harder time getting to the shops.

High-Speed Rail has forced the closure of several streets.

Chinatown advocate Kathy Omachi said, "People cannot get to Chinatown right now, and in a couple months it's going to be worse with Ventura."

Omachi said businesses have suffered 50 to 75-percent loss in revenue throughout the closures. Meanwhile, Chinatown needs money to preserve the buildings and help restore the area. She said funding efforts have failed, but money has been set aside to beautify the area.

"That's like lipstick on a dying body. Because you'll end up with little to show, cute stuff and the economic heart would've already been gone."

Most of the buildings are condemnable and a majority are absentee landlords. Omachi said though some areas may be dying, the shops that are still standing have loyal customers.

"Keep on coming here, keep trying to get to our business. We still have some of the most unique businesses in Fresno and the Central Valley. We have some of the best food restaurants around."

Chef Paul's Restaurant is known as a hidden gem for its southern food. Delicacies from oxtails to fried chicken.

Eddie Wuthangsy, who works at Chef Paul's, said, "We have a lot of variety out here that you don't see in Fresno, so I think that makes us a destination."

Ho Ho Kafé is also a popular spot for generations of families who come to have the best breakfast in town. Omachi said she's fighting for future generations to enjoy a piece of Fresno.

Even with construction and the challenges that lie ahead in the future, Chinatown advocates said they are determined to keep businesses open and its memory alive.

Action News reached out to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for comment. They said in part "we recognize the magnitude of construction in Chinatown and remain committed to mitigating possible impacts to the community."

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