Garden Grove officials have given preliminary approval to plans for a $10-million Vietnamese cultural center along Garden Grove Boulevard despite the objections of Korean American leaders who say the project is too close to their local cultural hub.
The 3-acre parcel at Garden Grove Boulevard and 7th Street could become home to a proposed 80,000-square-foot Vietnamese cultural center that will include a library, a heritage memorial, a museum, a performing art center and conference rooms.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 29, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 64 words Type of Material: Correction
Korean business district -- A Sept. 5 article in the California section about the proximity of a proposed Vietnamese cultural center to a Korean shopping district in Garden Grove said that Euiwon Chough is chairman of the Korean Business District. Chough is chairman of the Korean Business District Committee, a group that was active in raising money for a monument sign for the area.
"The Chinese just put up one in Irvine," said Phat Bui, president of Nhan Ai Foundation's executive committee, the local group spearheading the project.
"The Koreans have one in Los Angeles. The Japanese and the Jewish have one. Definitely the Vietnamese need a center to come to. We're very excited."
Bui said he hopes the center will become a tourist attraction: "It's a way for us to preserve our culture and explain our culture and contributions to the United States to the communities at large."
The project is opposed by some Korean American leaders who say it would be too close to an area designated for Korean business and culture.
"It's awkward to have a Vietnamese cultural center next to the Korean Business District," said Euiwon Chough, chairman of the city-designated district.
"It should be more down in Westminster where the cluster of the Vietnamese community is. It would be more natural because it would be an anchor, a highlight for their community."
The center would be more than a mile east of the Korean Business District and about a mile north of the city's Little Saigon Business District.
Mayor Bruce A. Broadwater said the center fits in with the area, which has been designated as an educational center and includes Coastline Community College, a University of La Verne regional campus and a satellite campus of Cal State Fullerton.
The Nhan Ai Foundation has until year's end to submit design and financial plans for the project. If those are approved, the city would buy about a dozen homes to sell the land to the foundation, officials said.
The project's first controversy came last year when the Nhan Ai Foundation proposed to build the center in the heart of the Korean Business District, at Brookhurst Way and Garden Grove Boulevard. Korean American community leaders proposed building a Korean cultural center at the same spot.
However, in July, the City Council sold 16 acres that included the site to a developer to build homes and retail stores.
"They both wanted a part of the parcel," said Councilman Mark Leyes. "We wanted someone who could develop it all."