As someone who was born and raised in this area, I'll provide some insight.
Long, long time ago Chinatown was bustling into the wee hours as there were plenty of restaurants and movie theaters for the Chinese community. However, generations started moving out to the avenues or burbs and the final nail was the downing of the freeway that led to Chinatown.
The only drawbacks to this area is that the buildings tend to be older and street parking is pretty much non-existent. While there isn't any major chain grocery stores in Chinatown, there are plenty of mom and pop Chinese markets that are very reasonable. I know of many people who still come to Chinatown for grocery shopping. The big draw to this area is the relative closeness to the Financial District, Downtown and North Beach. You have to admit, the idea of being able to roll out of bed at the very last minute to walk to work is pretty nice and very cost effective. Weather in this part of the city tends to be relatively warmer than other parts of the city as well.
My family owns a building in this area and quite frankly there are a lot more non Chinese college grads running around now. It is practically a frat/sorority row in some parts. The last time we listed an available flat, we literally received a hundred emails within a day.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the area once the Chinatown subway station is done. Chinatown certainly won't go away but hopefully it will transform as investors come in and/or owners continue remodeling their properties as a result of the higher values and rent levels.