Photo by Robert K. Chin.
This afternoon, the full City Council voted to reverse a decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect 135 Bowery, a nearly 200 year old federal row house. City Councilmember Margaret Chin sided with the building owner, a bank that wants to demolish the building and put up a new 7-story commercial structure.
Today, only one Councilmember, Rosie Mendez, voted in favor of landmark status. In a subcommittee hearing last week, most Councilmembers deferred to Chin, saying they trusted her judgment about what was best in her district.
Chin said she was swayed by the bank’s promise to create affordable office space in Chinatown. Numerous preservation groups denounced Chin’s decision and have vowed to keep fighting for the historic building.
This afternoon, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a Business Improvement District in Chinatown. In a news conference before the vote, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, who fought vigorously for the BID, called the impending decision “an historic moment for Chinatown.” We’ll have a full report tomorrow morning.
This morning the City Council’s Finance Committee voted 16-0 in favor of the Chinatown Business Improvement District. A vote of the full Council is expected this afternoon. Right now. we’re awaiting a news conference from Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Margaret Chin on the BID vote (and other matters).
If you’ve been thinking about joining the Chinatown YMCA, now might be the time. They’re waiving the standard “Joiner’s Fee” for new memberships until October 10th.
A bit last minute, but here’s a news advisory concerning an event taking place later this morning:
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott will join of Reading Partners CEO Michael Lombardo at PS 188 (442 East Houston) on the Lower East Side at 11:45 am on Wednesday, September 21st, to highlight the volunteer-driven early-intervention literacy program’s success in redirecting troubled readers towards the path to academic success. Already operating in California and Washington, D.C., serving more than 2,500 students with one-on-one tutoring in 38 schools nationwide, Reading Partners is starting up in their first seven New York City schools—including PS 188 – after receiving a $3.5 million Social Innovation Fund grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.
File photograph; Council Speaker Quinn and Councilmember Chin at the New Amsterdam Market.
City Councilmember Margaret Chin may well have reason to cheer this afternoon. According to a media advisory released by Speaker Christine Quinn last night, the City Council will vote today on a proposal, sponsored by Chin, to create a Chinatown Business Improvement District.
It’s an idea Chin has been been championing for well over a decade, long before she became Lower Manhattan’s representative at City Hall. Victory looks to finally be in her reach, assuming the Council’s Finance Committee votes in favor of the proposed BID in a morning hearing. The panel’s approval would clear the way for a vote of the full Council in the afternoon.
Not everyone will be cheering the outcome. Many property owners and community activists have voiced strong opposition and vow to keep fighting the BID, even after today’s vote (legal action is one option under consideration).
There’s a possibility another controversial issue, the landmarking of 135 Bowery, will also be voted on by the full Council today. Last week, the Landmarks Subcommittee, acting largely on Chin’s recommendation, overturned the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to protect the nearly 200-year-old federal house.
Preservation activists are furious with Chin for siding with the owner of the building, Patrick Yau, one of the leaders of the pro-Chinatown BID campaign. Last week, we posted a brief story on the 135 Bowery hearing. This morning, we have a more comprehensive recap:
Photo by Bahram Foroughi.
Cloudy today with occasional showers this afternoon and a high of 75. Two big stories we’re following today. First, the City Council is expected to vote on the controversial proposal to create a Chinatown BID. Second, the team behind The Low Line, the proposed park below Delancey Street, present their idea to Community Board 3′s land use committee. We’ll have coverage throughout the day.