Fred Hsieh: Developer of the Chinese Monterey Park
...Fred Hsieh: Developer of the Chinese Monterey Park
...Fred Hsieh: Developer of the Chinese Monterey Park
...Fred Hsieh, a real estate executive and developer who once advertised Monterey Park as "the Chinese Beverly Hills" and helped make it the only city in the United States with an Asian majority, has died.He
died Sunday in Las Vegas after suffering a stroke while vacationing. Hsieh
fortune and rebuilt a community on his
uncanny mid-1970s vision of Monterey Park as the successor to Los Angeles' crowded Chinatown.New homes would be essential, he
foresaw, to absorb the growing numbers of Chinese leaving Taiwan and Hong Kong for economic opportunities in America.
Within a dozen years, Hsieh
owned a music store, a movie theater, a restaurant, a Chinese-language weekly publication called Buy and Sell Classified, and several hundred apartment units.He
also headed Mandarin Realty Co. and began spreading his
interests back to Asia, where he
built a resort hotel in his
native Guilin, China.At his
had more than 270 employees.
"The Chinese people, they don't know San Diego or Washington, D.C.But they know Los Angeles and they know New York and they know Monterey Park," Hsieh
said in a 1987 interview with The Times on immigration patterns.
By 1996, the San Gabriel Valley city, founded in 1916 as Ramona Acres, had changed from its Anglo and Latino population of the early 1970s into a community that was 65% Asian, primarily Chinese.Hsieh
is considered largely responsible for the transformation.
Unlimited growth did not win easy acceptance among new Chinese residents who had left restricted island communities.Many of the new citizens protested Hsieh's
development projects.But he
explained patiently, that "when a foot grows too large for its shoe, you don't cut off the toes, you buy a larger shoe."
Years after wooing affluent Chinese immigrants by advertising Monterey Park as "the Chinese Beverly Hills" in Hong Kong newspapers, Hsieh
used the city's telephone area code--818--as a marketing device.Some Chinese consider the number 8 fortuitous, bestowing prosperity and good luck. Hsieh spent his youth in Shanghai, moved with his family to Hong Kong in 1956, and came to the United States in 1963, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from Oregon State University. In 1970, he went to work for the city of Los Angeles as a civil engineer, living in a $50-a-month apartment in Chinatown and walking to work.He
money, obtained a credit union loan and bought his
first property--a four-unit apartment building in Echo Park.Then he
sights on Monterey Park.
success increased, Hsieh
also became a philanthropist and fund-raiser for Monterey Park organizations, particularly its Boys & Girls Club and Merci
, an educational institute for the handicapped.Hsieh
in recent years attended the Harvard University
Business Administration Executive Program.
is survived by a son, Eric Hsieh; a daughter, Sophie Hsieh; and one grandchild.
...Frederic Hsieh, 54, Made Asian-American Suburb
LOS ANGELES -- Frederic Hsieh
, the entrepreneur who helped turn the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park into the first U.S. city in which Asians were a majority of the population by advertising it as "the Chinese Beverly Hills," died on Aug. 8 while on vacation in Las Vegas.He
The cause was a stroke, according to the Echo News Agency of Monterey Park
As the owner of Mandarin Realty Co.
, which bought land in Monterey Park and sold it to newly arrived immigrants, Hsieh
(pronounced shay) placed advertisements in Chinese-language newspapers with overseas readers describing Monterey Park's rolling hills as similar to those in Taipei, Taiwan.He
also used Monterey Park's area code, which was then 818, as an enticement; in Chinese numerology, the number 8 is believed to bestow prosperity and good luck. Hsieh's
efforts put Monterey Park on the radar screen of tens of thousands of mostly affluent Chinese and Taiwanese and residents of Hong Kong in the 1970s and '80s.
is credited with recognizing that changes in U.S. immigration policies in the 1960s would open the door for more immigrants from the Far East, and that tensions between China and Taiwan and the impending return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 would motivate affluent Asians to seek a home and a place to invest abroad.
"Without Fred Hsieh
, I think many of the Chinese would have relocated to many more traditional areas, like the San Francisco Bay Area or New York, and may have bypassed Los Angeles or the San Gabriel Valley completely," said Timothy Fong, the author of the 1994 book "The First American Chinatown: The Remaking of Monterey Park" (Temple University Press)."Moving to Monterey Park was a sign of making it in America." Frederic Hsieh
was born in Guilin, in southern China, in 1945, and attended schools in Shanghai and Hong Kong.He came to the United States in 1963 and received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in civil engineering from Oregon State University.In 1970, he worked for the City of Los Angeles as a civil engineer. He
first property, a four-unit building in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, when he
could not find a landlord who was willing to rent to him and his
pregnant wife.Living in one of the units, he
rented the other three and then began buying property in Monterey Park, finding potential in the city's nearness to downtown Los Angeles, its easy freeway access and its reasonable real estate prices.
began selling real estate there.
As Asians and investment money began to arrive in great numbers in the late 1970s and the '80s, there was considerable discord as some longtime white residents and even some Asian homeowners resented the large numbers of new immigrants.There was a drive to pass an ordinance barring Chinese-language business signs and to make English the city's official language.Both efforts failed, though a watered-down measure was approved that required Chinese shop signs to be in English as well.
As Monterey Park grew to become Los Angeles' "new Chinatown" and "Little Taipei," Hsieh
became involved in the development of the city's first Chinese housing complex for the elderly, called the Golden Age Village.He
also built a Sheraton hotel in his
native Guilin in 1986. Hsieh's
marriage ended in divorce.He
is survived by a son, Eric, and a daughter, Sophia.