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.
City Hall Steps.
it was a show of force earlier today at City Hall, as local elected officials and community leaders came out in support of a relief fund for small businesses in Chinatown impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The effort by the Chinatown Partnership and the Chinatown BID has already raised $45,000. All of the money will be used for a grant program; eligible businesses are encouraged to apply for assistance.
The campaign includes a benefit dinner at the Grand Harmony Restaurant, 98 Mott Street, on December 19. Today, Grand Harmony owner Tony Chen said his business was dealt a serious setback from the storm. Not only was he shut down for a week and forced to throw out a lot of spoiled food, but Chen said his customers have not come back in large numbers since the storm. He estimated business is off by about 30%
East Broadway merchants say they cannot afford a BID.
Supporters of a Chinatown Business Improvement District hope three is a charm. Having already won the endorsements of Community Boards 1 and 2, they anticipate Community Board 3 will do the same this evening. In spite of this month’s victories, opponents are not giving up the fight. In the past several days, they’ve sharpened their attacks on the plan, as well as the BID’s chief backers.
On Friday, several merchants and property owners gathered in the offices of the Lin Zexu Foundation, in Chatham Square, to declare the battle is just beginning. Members of the Chinatown Small Business Association said they could not afford to pay the assessments the BID wants to charge. They also criticized the group backing the BID, the Chinatown Partnership, which has declined to detail exactly how it spent a $5.4 million street cleaning grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.
Tuesday night, Chinatown business and political leaders won an important victory, as Community Board 3’s economic development committee voted to support their proposal for a business Improvement District. Many more steps lie ahead, including five more community board meetings and assessments by the City Council, borough president and mayor. The next stop: Community Board 2’s business development panel, which meets tonight.
It was standing room only in a meeting room on Eldridge Street. Supporters and opponents of the BID plan took turns addressing CB3 members. David Louie, BID steering committee co-chair, pleaded “let’s help ourselves,” adding. “we live and work in the community and we want to see it grow and flourish.” City Councilmember Margaret Chin, a lifelong Chinatown activist, echoed Louie’s sentiments, saying the creation of a BID would allow businesses and residents working together “to build a better future for our community.”
The group behind a campaign for a business improvement district in Chinatown is stepping up its pr offensive. We received a lengthy news release earlier today touting the establishment of a BID as an anecdote to several of the neighborhood’s most vexing problems. It begins:
Lower Orchard - part of the LES BID's proposed expansion plan.
There’s been lots of talk recently about the pros and cons of creating a Chinatown Business Improvement District. Critics of the plan have emerged both in the historic heart of Chinatown, but also in Soho and the Lower East Side. One major point of contention: the proposed BID’s expansive boundaries, which some people feel would amount to a hostile takeover of parts of the LES, Soho, Noho and Nolita.
In recent weeks, community leaders in all of the impacted neighborhoods have been working to head off a border war. It may be awhile before Chinatown and Soho come to terms. But in the last few days, it appears the Lower East Side part of the puzzle has fallen into place.