Wyndham Garden Chinatown Poised to Open; 128 Hester Tenants Still in Limbo

The 19 story Wyndham garden Chinatown looms over an empty lot at 128 Hester Street.

According to Wyndham Hotels’ web site, its new 19-story, 106-room property is opening this summer at 93 Bowery.  The Wyndham Gardens Chinatown, the site proclaims, “starts with a structure similar to a giant shard of blue glass that cuts through the Manhattan skyline to create an unforgettable presence in the new Chinatown.”

The residents next door at 128 Hester Street, who fled their apartments three years ago on orders from the Fire Department, no doubt agree the hotel’s presence in the neighborhood has already been unforgettable.  Earlier this week, tenant advocacy organization Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) called a news conference to urge the hotel and its developers to finally compensate eight displaced families for the loss of their homes.   While acknowledging that Wyndham is only the operator (and has not been involved in a long-running legal dispute), AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui expressed hope that the hotel’s impending opening would hasten a resolution.

Housing Group Identifies Buildings Being “Intentionally Neglected”

128 Hester Street.

In Albany, the annual battle over New York’s byzantine rent laws is starting to heat up. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might refuse to extend a tax break benefiting real estate developers unless Republicans agree to strengthen rent control legislation.

Even in the past two years (when Democrats had control of the Senate), rent reform went nowhere. Now that the GOP has retaken the chamber, prospects look bleak.  But many housing advocates are undeterred.  A prominent Chinatown organization, Asian Americans for Equality, has just released a report designed to influence the ongoing debate.

The report, “Demolition through Intentional Neglect: a tactic of predatory landlords to demolish rent-regulated Housing,” analyzed building violations throughout the city. It found that 99 buildings citywide  are “structurally compromised.” Fourteen of those buildings are in Lower Manhattan.