First housing developer for Chinese seniors: Stanley Chen

By the Sampan editorial team


As one of Boston Chinatown’s major developers, Stanley Chen started his engineering career in Southeast Asia. When the Communists took over China in 1949, Chen knew that he could not return to his home in Shanghai. He applied and was accepted to be a student trainee in Chicago, arriving in the United States in 1951.

Stanley Chen. (Image courtesy of Teresa Cheong.) 陳宣享。(照片由張韻寧提供。)

Stanley Chen. (Image courtesy of Teresa Cheong.)

In the ’50s, Chinese immigrants were rare and discriminated against. As such, he had much difficulty finding a job and renting an apartment. After his training, Chen was offered a position with one of the biggest construction firms in the Midwest. In 1957, he moved to New York City to work for a national development and construction company and was hired as an East Coast Regional Manager. In 1967, Chen was recruited by the Ford Foundation to run a pioneer minority contractor program in San Francisco which aimed at helping minorities start their careers in the building trade and secure government contracts. Two years later, the Foundation transferred him to Boston to start a similar project.

In Boston, Chen saw that there was no housing for Chinese seniors. In 1974, Chen decided to start his own company, Stanchen Construction Company, to develop housing in Boston. Teaming up with Jung & Brennen Architecture Associates, he built the Quincy Tower in 1978, the first affordable housing for seniors in Boston Chinatown. He then continued to develop South Cove Plaza East and West in 1982. Combined together, the two projects have provided 393 subsidized housing units for seniors.

Chen believes that education is vital for all immigrants to succeed and achieve their American dreams. After retiring, he dedicates his time and financial resources to support the Asian American Civic Association, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center and University of Massachusetts, Boston, which all emphasize increasing access to higher education for new immigrants. Chen is committed to giving back to the community and requires his UMass Boston scholarship recipients to volunteer at numerous community organizations and agencies of their choice while in and/or after school.


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