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City's Third Chinatown Is Emerging in Brooklyn

September 13, 1987. New York Times.

LEAD: In the late afternoons, crowds of Chinese workers pour out of the subway station, headed home. Chinese women push baby carriages along the avenue. Chinese children ride skateboards down the street. And in high-ceilinged warehouses, Chinese women bend over sewing machines.

In the late afternoons, crowds of Chinese workers pour out of the subway station, headed home. Chinese women push baby carriages along the avenue. Chinese children ride skateboards down the street. And in high-ceilinged warehouses, Chinese women bend over sewing machines.

It is a scene not from Canal Street in Manhattan's Chinatown or Asian Main Street in Flushing, Queens, but from Eighth Avenue in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Once known as Little Scandinavia, this neighborhood has the fastest-growing Chinese community in New York City.

''This will be the city's third Chinatown,'' said Eddie Quan, who opened a real-estate office on Eighth Avenue in July geared to new Chinese immigrants and investors.

Over the last two years, Chinese business people have been buying storefront buildings, opening businesses and renting apartments in Sunset Park and neighboring Bay Ridge, Mr. Quan said. More than half the owners along Eighth Avenue between 51st and 61st Streets have Chinese names, he added. #60,000 Chinese Residents In a recent report on the thriving Chinese community along Eighth Avenue, the Chinese-language daily Pei Mei spoke of 60,000 Chinese residents in all of Brooklyn.

Frank Vardy, a demographer in the Department of City Planning, said he considered 60,000 ''a good ballpark estimate.'' He said the 1980 Census had shown 26,000 Chinese in Brooklyn.

While Manhattan's Chinatown was settled mainly by emigrants from southeast China and the Chinese community in Queens is chiefly of Taiwanese origin, the founders of Brooklyn's Chinatown generally hail from Hong Kong.

''I expect there'll be a lot more immigrants coming here from Hong Kong before 1997,'' said George Chew, who established Bright Sun Hardware on Eighth Avenue eight months ago and recently opened a lumberyard. In 1997, the British colony reverts to China. 'A Positive Influence'

While some tensions have risen in the neighborhood among ethnic groups, the arrival of so many Chinese has been welcomed by others.

''The neighborhood is definitely changing, but I think the Chinese, with their concept of the industrious, good citizen, will have a positive influence,'' said the Rev. Marshall W. McBride, associate pastor of the Second Evangelical Free Church, at 5201 Eighth Avenue.

Established by Norwegians, the church has seen many of its members of Scandinavian heritage move to Staten Island and New Jersey and now shares its building with the Chinese Promise Baptist Church.

For the Chinese, the chief attractions of the Sunset Park-Bay Ridge area are the relatively low prices for real estate, a convenient location near the N subway line and a quiet neighborhood. Garment Factories Relocate

John W. Ng, general manager of Simpo International Realty, which opened its Brooklyn branch on Eighth Avenue just over a year ago, said that two-family storefront buildings that might sell for $500,000 to $1 million in Queens were priced at $200,000 to $400,000 in the Sunset Park-Bay Ridge area. Rentals for two-bedroom apartments in Brooklyn run between $450 and $600 a month, compared with around $1,000 in Queens.

Feeling the squeeze of rising rents in Chinatown, the Chinese garment industry has also begun to move to Sunset Park. More than 30 garment factories have set up shop in old warehouses and machine shops. Many of these factories are distinguished by small hand-written signs in Chinese calling for workers.

As in longer-established Chinese sections, youth gangs pose a problem. In Sunset Park, they have begun to harass shopkeepers for protection money, business and community leaders said. They are said to be offshoots of the traditional gangs, operating in Chinatown and using teen-age newcomers who don't speak English and have no skills.

Chinese immigrants, working in Chinatown restaurants and garment factories, began to settle in Brooklyn's Flatbush area, after the liberalized 1965 Immigration Act, according to the Rev. Paul Tseng. The pastor started the first Chinese church in the living room of his East Flatbush apartment in 1970. Aid for Refugees

Mr. Tseng's Brooklyn Chinese Christian Church, affiliated with the American Baptist Church, began sponsoring refugees in 1981. Through the Asian American Services Center, more than 1,000 refugees, mainly from Indochina, were resettled in the Flatbush area.

In recent years, however, Asians living in eastern and northern parts of Flatbush have been victims of robberies and beatings, Mr. Tseng said. Many Asians have moved to Sunset Park-Bay Ridge and lately to the Sheepshead Bay area. Last June, the pastor moved the Brooklyn Chinese Christian Church to a former American Legion meeting house on East 15th Street near Sheepshead Bay.

''Italian-American and Jewish landlords in the neighborhood say they welcome Chinese tenants, who pay rent and don't give trouble,'' Mr. Tseng said.


Copyright 1987 The New York Times Company

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