By Elsa Maxey
Bordering what used to be Tang City Plaza in Missouri City is U.S. 90A, and the name change of three streets in that area will have practically wiped out, in a physical sense, the memory of what used to be and could have been. Recently, the Missouri City City Council adopted an ordinance changing the name of Tang City Drive, Lo Yang Drive and Chang-an Drive to Dream Court, Pheasant Valley Drive and Paloma Bend, respectively.
There are some that may ask, what was Tang City Plaza? Yet others will remember that on the nine and a half acres of land, there used to be a huge shopping center styled in Chinese architecture that had Asian shops of all kinds and also, market places featuring an elaborately sophisticated arched entrance to the center.
That was back in 1986, when a bilingual ribbon-cutting ceremony signaled the forecast of a center to take its place as the nation’s first master-planned Chinatown. But it closed a few years later and it remained vacant later styling an abandoned sort of look. Had Beltway 8 been around, perhaps things could have turned out differently.
In 2000, the property was purchased by former Houston Rockets player Hakeem Olajuwon, who resided in Sugar Land. Intending on building a mosque with a private school, library, landscaped gardens and a 35 foot Islamic architectural styled dome, the project did not come to fruition.
The former Tang City shopping center with its declining structures subjected to vandalism thereafter met its fate and was leveled in 2004. Last year, the Missouri City City Council authorized rezoing about half of the acreage of the site for the construction of a mixed use complex development to include a two-story office/warehouse building, a two-story, office/storage/service building and an outdoor yard for equipment storage.
To some, this area will always be remembered as the location of the former Tang City, and historians may take it bit further back recalling that it used to be both a track for boat racing in the 1930’s and later, for horse racing once upon a time just as Tang City.