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Thread: Chinatown hopes for rebirth

  1. #1

    Default Chinatown hopes for rebirth

    Chinatown hopes for rebirth

    BY ROSE FRENCH
    Staff Writer

    April 16, 2004, 10:12 PM EDT

    Business leaders in Chinatown have a sweeping plan they believe will turn the neighborhood into "America's Chinatown," a national destination for commerce, arts, cuisine, fashion and tourism.

    A long-awaited plan, unveiled by some of the district's business groups and elected leaders Friday, outlines goals for the next two decades.

    The plan, unveiled by the nonprofit Asian Americans for Equality at a Lower East Side Chinese restaurant addresses a range of issues, from transportation, job growth and affordable housing to revitalizing the waterfront and business districts.

    "It's a bold and ambitious plan, but it's got a lot of practical steps along the way," said Robert Weber, project director for the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative, which was launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

    One of its major goals is to make Chinatown a national hub where East and West culture and commerce meet and thrive. Proposals include the establishment of a new cultural arts center and a "Pacific Rim" office center to leverage the 25 Chinatown banks that currently hold $6 billion in deposits.

    One of the proposals includes a Chinese-themed hospitality and dining facility on the waterfront; a floating catering hall, spa/hotel, culinary institute or some combination — replicating the floating Jumbo Restaurant in Hong Kong or the Queen March Hotel in Long Beach, Calif.

    "This is really the dawning of a new day in Chinatown," said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents Chinatown.

    "The paradigm would no longer be Manhattan's Chinatown in relation to Flushing and Sunset Park but New York City's Chinatown in relation to those of San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver," the plan states. With 80,000 residents, New York's Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in the Western Hemisphere. There are 500,000 Chinese-Americans in the metro New York region — a number on par with San Francisco's.

    To implement the plan, Weber said Chinatown leaders should consider establishing a business improvement district as well as a local development corporation as a private/public partnership to spur projects like the office center and waterfront park proposals. Also, special zoning should be applied in the area to spur design quality and affordable housing, the plan states.

    Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.


    New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com

    Building 'America's Chinatown'

    By BRIAN HARMON
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

    Saturday, April 17th, 2004

    Being New York's Chinatown isn't enough.

    Lower Manhattan's Asian hub needs to transform itself into "America's Chinatown," according to a plan unveiled yesterday.

    The Asian Americans for Equality introduced a 10-year, $500 million plan to spruce up the 80,000-resident community with new affordable housing, waterfront parks and a "Pacific Rim" office center.

    The project also calls for cleaner streets, improvements to existing housing and beautification of the area's parks. Its goal is two-fold - attracting more tourism and improving residential vitality.

    "We want to make Chinatown, 'America's Chinatown,' but we also want Chinatown to maintain itself as a community," said Christopher Kui, executive director of the Asian Americans for Equality.

    His group is asking the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to pitch in about $80 million of the half billion budgeted.

    The Rebuild Chinatown Initiative lays out eight focuses, among them:
    • Targeting publicly owned land for affordable housing.

      Creating parkland and gardens along the waterfront.

      Reopen Park Row and create more connections to lower Manhattan.

      Build a "Pacific Rim" office center, complete with a hotel, a Hong Kong department store and office space.

    Two years ago, the century-old neighborhood's economy was hit hard in wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Unemployment soared, the garment industry continued to decline and Chinese newcomers branched out to other neighborhoods such as Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Flushing, Queens.

    "This report serves as a useful reminder of the difficulties that Chinatown still faces more than 30 months after 9/11," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said.

    Several city leaders, including Councilman Alan Gerson, also gave the plan their stamp of approval.

    "Now is the time to be ambitious, to realize the great renaissance of Chinatown," Gerson (D-Manhattan) said.

    With Jose Martinez


    Projected ‘Lincoln Center of Chinatown’

  2. #2

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    April 29, 2004

    Chinatown Says Police Parking Makes Its Streets Too Tight

    By SUSAN SAULNY


    Residents of Confucius Plaza, near the Manhattan Bridge, put up orange barrels to keep police officers from parking in front of their building. "They took our sidewalk, our front," Justin Yu said.

    Jan Lee would rather spend time anywhere but in the driver's seat of his pickup truck, circling the block on Mott Street in Chinatown where he owns an antique shop, hoping to find a place to park and unload his boxes.

    On a good day, he will circle three or four times, trying to find a place not taken by an illegally parked car. On a bad day, it takes him hours, and sometimes he just gives up. So do other truck drivers with cargo headed to Sinotique, his store. He cannot call the police, because most of the cars parked in Chinatown's loading zones are in fact owned by police officers.

    "Multiply my problem by literally hundreds of people in Chinatown," Mr. Lee said, "and you'll get an idea of what it's been like here for the past few years."

    Even though the attack on the World Trade Center happened two and a half years ago, residents and business owners in Chinatown say their neighborhood, just a short distance from ground zero, has not recovered. Because of the security measures imposed on the nearby police headquarters and other government offices, they say, conditions in their part of Lower Manhattan have actually grown worse.

    Streets have closed. Traffic patterns have changed. Buses have been rerouted. Several checkpoints for cars remain.

    Parking conditions are the worst, moving from bad to unbearable, Mr. Lee and others say. Correction and police officers and other government employees have turned to the streets of Chinatown for long-term parking, a process that started before 9/11 when a municipal garage under police headquarters closed for renovation. The reopening of the garage has been delayed since the attack by changes in plans.

    "This law enforcement illegal parking is a major, major, major problem," said City Councilman Alan Gerson, who represents the area. "They park on sidewalks, by fire hydrants, in no-standing zones. It's total parking anarchy, and it's disruptive and dangerous to people trying to walk."

    A random survey of parking recently showed that people in Chinatown were left with a meager amount of street space after various law enforcement officials had parked for the day.

    On Bayard Street between Baxter and Mulberry Streets, 18 of 19 parked cars displayed dashboard placards from the Police or Correction Departments. On Bayard Street between Mulberry and Mott Streets, all 15 cars parked displayed Correction or Police Department placards although they were in no-standing zones. And on Mulberry Street between Bayard and Canal, the scene was much the same: 21 of 29 cars parked in restricted zones also displayed law enforcement placards.

    The Police Department has conceded that the security measures are inconvenient but insists that the changes are necessary to protect the concentration of government buildings near Chinatown. Police and city officials say they do not see the parking situation in the dire terms used by neighborhood merchants.

    Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said officers should not use the streets for all-day parking. He did not acknowledge that they were, and he did not comment further. The narrow streets that form the heart of Chinatown (and that formed the notoriously chaotic Five Points before it) have been bustling for centuries. People in the area say, however, that since 9/11, the intensity of congestion has been unusual even by their standards.

    After the attack, several blocks of Park Row, a major north-south artery for the area, were closed to unauthorized traffic, as were parts of smaller streets in the Chatham Square area. Some residents still have to present identification at checkpoints around One Police Plaza in order to get to their apartment buildings.

    Justin Yu, who owns a shop in Confucius Plaza near the Manhattan Bridge on-ramp and is also the building's co-op board president, places orange barrels outside his storefront just to keep the police away.

    "They took our sidewalk, our front," Mr. Yu said. "They park all over the place - the real police, fake police, correction officers, police from out of town. We don't have anything left."

    Paul J. Q. Lee lost his family's 113-year-old gift shop at 32 Mott Street in October because of what he called the lingering effects of 9/11 on the neighborhood's economic vitality. "The war on terrorism seems to be a war on Chinatown," he said. "What's hurtful is that we are now being treated like the enemy."

    In 2002, residents of two Chinatown co-ops, along with Mr. Gerson and other elected officials, sued to stop the city and the Police Department from closing streets and leaving police officers' cars in a neighborhood park, James Madison Plaza.

    Last year, Justice Walter B. Tolub of State Supreme Court ruled that it was time for the police to take the first steps toward removing security blockades and ordered them out of the park by April 15. In February, the police offered a declaration to the court based on its assessment of how the department's security measures have impinged on the neighborhood, saying they have had "no significant effect" on Chinatown.

    "While these security measures may be perceived as inconvenient, they are necessary to protect the city, state and federal facilities in the area and would not result in an adverse impact to the overall character of the neighborhood," the statement read.

    A lawyer who handled the case for the city, Janet Siegel, an assistant corporation counsel, said this week that the department had fully complied with the court's orders and was interested in working with Chinatown, not against it. "The Police Department is continuing to work with the community to see that all concerns are addressed," Ms. Siegel said.

    Still, people in Chinatown say they are not being heard.

    Danny Chen, a software engineer who lives in Chatham Green, a 21-story co-op on Park Row that sits just inside a police barricade, describes the period after 9/11 as the city's "reign of anti-terror."

    "They look at Chinatown and say, 'Hey, we need parking, so let's take it from the Chinese. Oh yeah, it's for security,' " Mr. Chen said. "I can't express how angry I get when I think about how they think of us."

    While Mr. Chen and others celebrated the return of James Madison Plaza to community use, they say they will not be content until Park Row is open and the parking issue is solved.

    A Police Department spokesman said that the municipal garage should be open soon, but that its capacity would be limited.

    "Clearly the reopening of the lot will be a big help," Mr. Gerson said, "but there needs to be a master parking plan developed for Lower Manhattan to assure adequate parking for residents, workers and visitors."

    Mr. Gerson is urging support for the Park Row bill, which he has introduced to establish guidelines to address the issue of street closings, including providing for adequate public input. A hearing on the bill is scheduled before the City Council on May 3.

    "The point is, we need a process to assure communities that their needs are not ignored," he said.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #3
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    What they need to do is spread the wealth south of ground zero, but I see very little, if any of that.

    Chinatown itself is HORRIBLE when it comes to parking. I think they have to rethink areas like these. Make them kind of like what is going on in europe. Establish drop off zones and close all sidestreets to vehicluar traffic. Prohibit the placement of ANYTHING past curbs edge, and let people walk the streets.

    So long as every buisness had to do it, not just selected ones, you would find it a bit more fair.

    I don't know. Parking is always a difficult subject. I get angry whenever I am asked to go there and I know I have to park...

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    Pretty comprehensive plan. I like it a lot:

    http://www.rebuildchinatown.org/events.html#Report

    Click on:

    April 16, 2004 - Release of “America’s Chinatown: A Community Plan”

    Final Community Plan

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    I hope this doesn't make Chinatown glitzy. I like the gritty, odoriferous, kinda scary Chinatown that we have now. If this is going to end up "whitewashing" it, I'll have second thoughts.

  6. #6

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    Could someone give me an update on how Chinatown is doing?



    Thanks

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    I hope this doesn't make Chinatown glitzy. I like the gritty, odoriferous, kinda scary Chinatown that we have now. If this is going to end up "whitewashing" it, I'll have second thoughts.
    You want the odiferous, just hang out b ythe fish markets there.

    You will get all the odor you want.

    And no matetr how neat the area becomes, I am sure people will be just as courteous on the street...

  8. #8

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    Newsday
    April 5, 2005

    Advocates argue for Chinatown arch

    BY BRYAN VIRASAMI
    STAFF WRITER

    New York City should get in line with cities like San Francisco and Sydney and erect an arch over a Chinatown street, advocates said Tuesday.

    A plan to build a $1.5 million arch was hailed by Chinatown business and community leaders, who got a $250,000 pledge from City Council leaders Tuesday.

    The remaining funds for the arch, which is a symbolic welcoming gate to many Chinatowns, should come from the mayor's office or the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), City Council members said.

    Many say that a century after Chinese settled in lower Manhattan, they deserve an arch that would boost tourism and the area's appearance as well as serve as a powerful symbol common in most Chinatowns.

    "We have been waiting for this for 150 years," said Edward Ma, president of the Chinese American Planning Council. "This is good feng shui for Chinatown and New York City."

    The arch would be 45 feet high, with an 80-foot span and made of granite and other materials, said T.C. Ho, the architect. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller joined Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and Councilman Alan Gerson (D-Chinatown) yesterday outside City Hall to announce the funding.

    "Everyone loves to talk about how much they support Chinatown, from the mayor to the LMDC, to everybody else, and it's time to put your money where your mouth is," Liu said.

    Joanna Rose, a spokeswoman for the LMDC, said the agency's available funds are lower than the combined amount of money the council has requested for projects.

    "We will certainly look at their proposal," she said.

    A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said no one has approached the mayor about the project yet.

    Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

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    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    By all means, make Chinatown more feng shui. An arch sounds cool but I wonder where they'd put it......

  10. #10

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    Various Chinatown arches...

    Chicago:


    Philadelphia:


    Boston:


    San Francisco:


    No doubt NYC's would be no less grand.
    Last edited by BigMac; April 7th, 2005 at 12:42 PM.

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    I couldn't say it better than curbed:


    "Considering the City will spend $250k on the arch—the price of a closet in adjacent tenements—you know this is gonna be one classy creation."

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    So long as 250K is the cost of CONSTRUCTION, that is quite a lot you know.


    Just because it costs that much for a closet, does not mean it will cost that much for it.

    the city owns the land already, it does not need to buy it....

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    Well, sometimes Curbed is a bit too snide for it's own good...

    "That could finally end soon with the help of a $250,000 budget allocation announced yesterday by City Council officials towards building a $1.5 million gateway to Manhattan's historic Chinatown."

    http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/...p-254194c.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by billyblancoNYC
    Well, sometimes Curbed is a bit too snide for it's own good...

    "That could finally end soon with the help of a $250,000 budget allocation announced yesterday by City Council officials towards building a $1.5 million gateway to Manhattan's historic Chinatown."

    http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/...p-254194c.html
    I'm sorry, snide is right - I knew the $1.5 MM figure from the newsday article above but couldn't help posting it because I found the curbed post funny this morning. Perhaps the first part, while snider, is more accurate?

    "For those concerned that New York City's Chinatown lacks a certain something—like, say, a garish faux-Chinese archway for tourists to pose in front of—we bring glad tidings."

  15. #15

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    Even London has one, a bit humble.


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