Chin Celebrates Creation of Chinatown BID
More now on Wednesday’s big story – the City Council’s unanimous vote creating a Business Improvement District in Chinatown. In a news conference before the Council meeting with Speaker Christine Quinn, Chin said, “This has been a long time coming. It’s an historic day for Chinatown.”
The vote represented a huge victory for Chin, who made the issue the centerpiece of her first term as Lower Manhattan’s Councilmember — and has been fighting to create the BID for well over a decade.
Jan Lee, the leader of a coalition that had vigorously opposed the new district, was waiting outside the Council’s press conference Wednesday with several Chinatown property owners. He vowed to continue the battle, in court if necessary. “All of our resources will go towards dismantling this BID, which we have already proven is not legitimate,” he said. Mee Wong, who owns a parking facility on Walker Street, called the BID unfair and argued that annual assessments would amount to “another tax” property owners cannot afford.
Quinn emphasized that Chin and BID proponents spent a lot of time talking with people about their concerns. She suggested that the organization’s focus on sanitation ($1 million of the BID’s $1.3 million budget will be devoted to sidewalk cleaning) will “greatly enhance and sustain businesses in Chinatown.” Responding to a question, Quinn acknowledged that property owners will have increased costs but she asserted that “they will also have increased business” due to the BID’s efforts.
The BID is bounded by Broome Street on the north, Broadway on the west, Allen and Rutgers streets on the east, and White, Worth and Madison streets on the south. There are a few more perfunctory steps before property owners see their first assessment and the BID is operational. Organizers hope they’ll be up and running by the beginning of next year.
In a statement, Patrick Yau, co-chair of the BID Task Force said, “We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Councilmember Margaret Chin for her unwavering leadership of this effort… BID organizers are committed to working with everyone in Chinatown. The BID will let us help ourselves to assure the future of our community.” Yau, incidentally, is head of the First American International Bank, which won another battle in the Council Wednesday. With Chin’s support, the Council voted to overturn the landmarking of 135 Bowery, a nearly 200-year-old federal house the bank plans to redevelop.
Chin said she appreciated the time, energy and passion that BID opponents put into the issue. She said, “They are now stakeholders. I hope they will become involved” in the organization. But their protests did not dampen her enthusiasm. “We are going to welcome visitors to Chinatown with bright lights and clean streets… come celebrate an historic moment with us,” Chin said.