Chinese Cultural Center Exterior Construction Halted by Court. Where Do We Go Now?


February 6, 2018— The Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center and Garden has been top-of-mind since August 2017,  when people rose up in protest after learning an investment banker from Scottsdale wanted to tear down there iconic building and prayer garden.   To them, it has been a bitter battle between history and culture and big business. Last week, the Arizona Appellate Court, Division One, struck  a blow to 668 North, the investment banker, and handed a major win in the fight to preserve the Chinese Cultural Center to its grassroots supporters. 

The Court ruled “that there is a strong likelihood of success [for the constructions opposition] on the merits,” and so they granted a Stay, preventing 668 North from altering the exterior of the property in any way, while the court reviews the case – – a process which could take up to a year.

You may be wondering, what is this fight all about? The investment banker has continually touted  his position as being one of property rights...his, and his alone. We agree that property rights is at the core of this important debate. But were you aware, there are two owners of the property known as the Chinese Cultural Center? Don’t worry, most people do not know the center is owned by CJ Design the Szechwan Palace Restaurant and 668 North.   Yes, that is correct, the restaurant owns a small part of the center…it is NOT a renter. 

So, the same protections afforded by Prop. 207 to the investment banker belong to the restaurant owner, as well. This is important because when the restaurant purchased their property, they did so with the understanding that they were purchasing a property that was designed and built as a Chinese Cultural Center. They don’t want that to change, and since David Tedesco of 668 North has attempted to run roughshod over them with his piecemeal plan to tear down the roof,  close off the garden, and destroy all the exterior Chinese elements at the center, the minority owner of the property, Szechwan Palace Restaurant, has hauled him off to court. 

In his closing arguments, attorney Atticus Finch, in the 1960 American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, looked straight at the jury and said “In this country, our courts are the great levelers.“   What an apt description of what is happening  in this instance as we strive to save the Chinese Cultural Center. A rich, powerful businessman, David Tedesco, owner of 668 North, attempts to run over and bully a small businessman, who merely wants to run his restaurant, as he has for a Chinese restaurant in a Chinese-themed center.  Left to his own devices, the owner of Szechwan  Palace Restaurant would have lost, so he went to court with his modern day Atticus Finch by his side, Phoenix Attorney Jack Wilenchik.  Wilenchik presented his case before the court, “where all men are created equal,” and he won.  

The court told David Tedesco “NO”,  A word the powerful rarely hear. NO, you can’t tear the iconic Chinese roof down. NO, you can’t destroy the Chinese prayer garden. NO, you can’t rip the Chinese elements from the exterior walls of the building. And NO, your property rights under proposition 207 are not more valuable than the 207 property rights of the Szechwan Palace Restaurant...the little guy. 

So now we stand at a crossroads. We extend to 668 North and David Tedesco an olive branch. We invite you to come to the table of reconciliation and search with us for a resolution. We stand ready to compromise with you. We are prepared to purchase the property from you at a fair and reasonable price. Now that the courts have acted as the “leveler“ it is time for us to seek out a win-win solution that benefits us all.  Mr. Tedesco, if we were in the midst of a chess game, I would say to you, the next move is yours.