New “Wayfinder” Sign System Introduced in Chinatown

This week marks the first installation of a new WalkNYC program, a comprehensive “wayfinding” sign system, to help both New Yorkers and tourists navigate through the city, as easily as possible.

Chinatown Businesses Awarded $79,000 in Post-Sandy Grants

Grant recipients and community leaders posed for photos last week in Chinatown.

Last week, 79 business owners in Chinatown received grants to help them bounce back from the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy. The program was set up by the Chinatown Business Improvement District and the Chinatown Partnership.  Each business was given a check for about $1000.

At the urging of City Council member Margaret Chin, the groups launched a fundraising drive, including a benefit dinner, which raised $79,000.  There were small donations but also some big contributions to the fund.  First American International Bank (FAIB), CAIPA (Chinese American Independent Practitioner Association) and the Magna Carta Insurance Company all donated $10,000.

About one-third of the recipients were restaurants, which were closed for more than a week following Sandy and were forced to throw out a lot of spoiled food. Other recipients included Chinese herbal medicine stores and beauty salons.


Marking Earth Day in Columbus Park

Columbus Park, Earth Day 2012.

Earth Day yesterday was a soggy affair.  You’re looking at the scene in Chinatown, an event sponsored by the new Chinatown Business Improvement District in Columbus Park. After donning plastic ponchos and posing for photos, participants fanned out across the neighborhood to pick up garbage along several routes.

City Council member Margaret Chin and NYC Comptroller John Liu co-sponsored the cleanup day. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was also on hand to give a few words of encouragement. Among the participants: lots of community activists, but also students from Emma Lazarus High School, Stuyvesant High School and kids from the United East Athletic Association.

City Reverses Course on Fees Charged to Chinatown Property Owners

Bethany Li of AALDF with Jan Lee and other property owners.

The city has decided to credit property owners who were prematurely assessed fees for the newly created Chinatown Business Improvement District.  Yesterday, neighborhood activist and building owner Jan Lee, other property owners and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund held a news conference on Mott Street to celebrate what they called a significant victory.  They said the city only acted after they threatened legal action.

Chin Celebrates Creation of Chinatown BID

Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Chin -- Wednesday afternoon.

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.”

City Council Approves Chinatown BID

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.

Decision Day for Chinatown BID and (Maybe) 135 Bowery Landmarking

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 campaignLast week, we posted a brief story on the 135 Bowery hearing.  This morning, we have a more comprehensive recap:

Next Step for Chinatown BID: Hearing May 26

The City Council’s Finance Committee this morning scheduled a hearing on the proposal to create a Chinatown Business Improvement District, the latest step forward for the plan, which has been championed by City Councilmember Margaret Chin.

“We’re really happy that it’s finally happening,” said Kelly Magee, Chin’s communications director. “It’s something we’ve been working for for a long time.”

The May 26 hearing will take place at 10 a.m. and will be followed by a committee vote. If approved, it would move next to a full vote by the City Council, Magee said. That date has not been set.

All three downtown community boards approved the proposed BID last year, and the city’s planning commission gave it the nod in March, despite some criticism at public hearings and complaints from local merchants they would not be able to afford BID assessments.


Chinatown BID Campaign Marches On, Congestion Pricing Redux, Kanye Parties with NuMu

  • Chinatown BID backers appear before City Planning Commission (WSJ).
  • Brokers are high on the LES (Post).
  • Price drop: resale in Norfolk Street’s Switch Building (Curbed).
  • Congestion pricing is back — our representatives in Albany poised to play pivotal roles (Daily News).
  • Tom Robbins pontificates about SPURA, urges CB3 to bring peace to the Middle East (Village Voice).
  • New York’s Conservative Party targets Sheldon Silver in robocall (Capital Tonight).
  • Rapper Saigon teams up with the Bowery Mission to provide blankets to the homeless (Boom Box).
  • Kanye rocks the New Museum’s “Mental States” opening (Guest of a Guest).
  • The war on the San Gennaro Festival (Jeremiah).
  • Red-tailed hawks discover what humans already knew: the food on the Lower East Side is superior (DNA Info).
  • Josh Yuter: the Stanton Street Shul’s tweeting rabbi (Tablet).
  • Secret Lower East Side bar throws in the towel (Grub Street).