By Greg Argos


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A grass-roots effort is underway to save a shopping center beloved by many people of Southeast Asian descent. It’s located at 16th and Washington in South Philadelphia and it could be replaced by luxury homes and condos.

The shopping center is known in Vietnamese as Peace Plaza, and is anchored by the Big 8 Supermarket. It’s the first Southeast Asian shopping center to open in all of the tri-state area.

“They are like my family members, because we at least see each other at least two or three times a week,” one store owner said.

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But now, the Peace Plaza could face the wrecking ball as the owner who operates one of the nearly dozen shops inside, plans to sell it.

In its place could stand 80 luxury homes and condos.

But those who shop and work here are doing everything they can to stop that development.

“Development should be for the better of everyone and in that process we should make sure we’re not displacing people who have been living here for generations,” said activist Duong Ly.

Ly is with the grassroots organization Vietlead, which organized a petition to keep the plaza as is and so far nearly 10,000 people have signed it.

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He also helped translate for the passionate store and restaurant owners asking those gathered, including Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, to stop the development.

“For two weeks, I didn’t know what to do because I tried to find answers but I couldn’t find answers,” Ly translated for one of the owners.

Activists worry there will be no Peace Plaza.

“This space if anything, should remain for the people,” one woman said.