On May 23 Sherry Li of the China City of America Project introduced plans for a $6 billion development on 2,232 acres of land straddling the Mamakating-Thompson town line in Sullivan County at a special meeting before local officials. Colorful brochures depicting a truly fantastical realm were handed out to those officials and the public was not allowed comment. But with research, websites tied to the project were unveiled, along with a sense of the basic idea behind what’s being proposed.
Plans at this very initial stage, Li noted, are provisional and subject to change. They include an amusement park, a museum, a martial arts pavilion, various culturally-themed parks, theaters, a shopping mall, a school, a medical center, senior housing, two hotels, 1,000 units of housing (both western and Chinese style), a high-tech center with offices and showrooms, and possibly a casino.
“With thousands of years of history and culture China is unique, elegant and inspiring,” proclaims the brochure. “The China City of America Project is designed to portray this culture using ‘Feng Shui’ principles for visitors to experience.”
“Feng Shui is Chinese for ‘air’ and ‘water,’” explained Li at the meeting, “We care about positive energy.”
Later she returned to this theme again.
“We love the earth. We want to create economic development while protecting the environment,” she said. “We would love to work with towns that have the same philosophy.”
The mood of the overflow crowd on hand in Sullivan County has been skeptical, and bordering on antagonistic, with local environmental groups vowing a media and legal fight to prevent what they see as an invasion.
When a Mamakating ZBA member asked if China City had developed anywhere else, Li responded that there are China towns all over the U.S.
“Now a new generation of immigrants are highly educated and want to make a difference,” she said.
“That’s not the question,” persisted the questioner. “Have you developed a China City before?”
“There’s nothing exactly like what we’re planning,” Li finally said.