Sakura Square LLC | About
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 ABOUT

Sakura Square has a unique story and holds an important cultural place in the history of Denver and Colorado. It is also a reflection of the history of the Japanese-American experience in Colorado.

View the Sakura Square Vision Statement here 

More than forty years after its creation, the block is undergoing a resurgence of cultural significance while reinvigorating its residential and commercial assets. Since its dedication in May 1973, Sakura Square has been a multigenerational, multi-cultural community and a destination for those seeking Japanese goods and services. Sakura Square is an example of a truly successful multi-use project in the heart of downtown Denver.

 

In the early 1970s, when Denver Urban Renewal Authority began transforming what is now known as LoDo, Denver’s Japanese community was forced to change. Without the efforts of the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple, the businesses that had been part of the approximately 9-square block community would have been forced to divide and relocate. Instead, they were given the opportunity to move into the one-block area that already housed the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple, preserving the Japanese-American heritage of the area.

 

The Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple, originally built in 1947, anchors Sakura Square and provides a spiritual center.

The Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple.

A small garden plaza on the site provides a respite from the surrounding city and tells the history of the site through statuary of key historical figures: Governor Ralph L. Carr, Minoru Yasui and Reverend Yoshitaka Tamai. Carr was governor of Colorado from 1939 to 1943. He welcomed Japanese-Americans to settle in Colorado after they were released from internment camps at the end of World War II, and urged racial tolerance and the protection of basic rights for Japanese-Americans in spite of popular anti-Japanese sentiment. Minoru Yasui was a Japanese-American attorney who fought laws that targeted discrimination against Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants. Reverend Yoshitaka Tamai was responsible for the survival of the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple in the early years. The apartment tower is named in his honor.

While there are already many reasons to visit and shop year-round at Sakura Square and attend weekly services at the Temple, Sakura Square will be expanding its events and activities in the years to come.  This is an exciting time for the gateway to downtown Denver.

MANAGEMENT

gary

GARY M. YAMASHITA

CEO

 

As Chief Executive Officer, Gary is responsible for overseeing the operations and long term strategic planning of Sakura Square. His background includes more than 35 years of experience in the real estate and banking industries, specializing in real estate appraisal, finance, development and project management.

 

Gary is active in the community and has served as past President and on the Board of Directors of the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple. He currently serves as Vice President of the Mile High Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and is the program and judging chairperson for the Japanese American Community Graduation Program scholarship banquet.

 

A third generation Japanese-American, Gary is passionate about preserving the precious gift that his ancestors have given his community in building Sakura Square. He feels a strong sense of personal responsibility to help maintain the rich history of the block, and to enhance the Japanese cultural and community components for future generations to enjoy.

 

 

tim

NOZOMU TIM HIGASHIDE

Director of Business Operations

 

Tim is the Business Operations Manager for Sakura Square LLC. In addition to supervising the daily operations under the CEO, Tim also provides leadership and direction to the Board of Managers to assist in developing and implementing the overall strategic business plan. He brings a variety of experience in project management, marketing and sales operations from both private and non-profit sectors.

 

Tim is a founding member of the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals where he served as President and Chairman of the Board. He is on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Japan America Society of Colorado, Japanese Firms Association, and is an active member of the U.S. Japan Council, where he was a participant in the 2014 Tomodachi Emerging Leaders Program. In 2015 he was selected as a commissioner for the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission.

 

Tim holds a BA in International Affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He earned his MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship and MS in Finance from the University of Colorado, Denver. Having spent the first 14 years of his life in Japan, Tim is dedicated to utilizing his bilingual and bicultural experiences to serve as the connector between Japan and the US.

 

 

stacey

STACEY L. SHIGAYA

Program Director

 

In her role as Program Director, Stacey is responsible for the development, management and implementation of projects, programming and objectives of Sakura Square LLC and the Sakura Foundation. The Foundation is the parent organization to the LLC. Projects include Sakura Foundation scholarships, grants, cultural events and Emerging Leaders Program. In conjunction with the Business Operations Manager, Stacey oversees the operations and objectives of Sakura Square and contributes to the strategic planning, implementation, branding and marketing of the Sakura Square redevelopment project.

 

Stacey’s varied professional experience includes market research in the automotive and cable industries, office management in the commercial real estate field and affiliate relations with a local Internet services company. She earned a BA in Human Development and Learning/Psychology from Christian Brothers University and an MS in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Memphis. Stacey was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and has fond memories of attending Obon and Cherry Blossom Festivals in Sakura Square.

 

Both of Stacey’s parents were sent to internment camps during WWII and later relocated to Colorado. Due in large part to the experiences that her parents endured, she has great respect, gratitude and a sense of honor toward the Japanese-American, Metro Denver and Colorado communities.

 

 

jerry

JERRY MONTOYA

Groundskeeper/Maintenance

 

Jerry is responsible for the upkeep of the Sakura Square common area and assists with the maintenance and repairs for the commercial facilities and Tamai Tower. In addition, he maintains the Temple grounds and front courtyard. Prior to joining the Sakura Square staff, Jerry was groundskeeper at the Auraria Higher Education campus for more than 10 years.

 

Jerry takes great pride in making sure that Sakura Square is clean and well maintained for our residents, commercial tenants and their customers. He arrives to work bright and early each morning to ensure that the grounds and facilities are in order before the daily activity at Sakura Square begins.

BOARD OF MANAGERS

CHARLES OZAKI
SHARON ESHIMA
DJ IDA
KENZO KAWANABE

STEVE NITTA
JOE OZAKI
STEVE SZYMANSKI
KELLY YAMASAKI
KEVIN YOSHIDA

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