Volume 16 • Issue 48 | APRIL 23-29, 2004

Neighborhood group releases grand plan for Chinatown

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Watch your back, San Francisco: that was the message from elected officials and community leaders as they unveiled a plan that would transform New York’s Chinatown into “America’s Chinatown.”

A project of the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative, the 10-year plan was unveiled at an April 16 news conference at the Golden Unicorn Restaurant at 18 East Broadway. It would create a destination to compete with the larger Chinese communities on the West Coast, not with the satellite Chinatowns that have sprung up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn or Flushing, Queens, officials said.

Specifically, the plan calls for the creation of affordable housing, waterfront recreation space, a “Pacific Rim” office district, and the strengthening of road connections in the area, including the reopening of Park Row.

“This America’s Chinatown plan is a giant step in that journey towards a 21st-century Chinatown that will be the pride of this city, this state, and this nation,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, recalling the Chinese proverb that a journey of 1,000 miles must begin with one step.

Asian Americans for Equality and its community partners launched the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative following the 9/11terror attack, which dealt a devastating blow to the local economy. The plans released on Friday reflected the culmination of two years’ worth of research and meetings, interviews and workshops with thousands of community residents, business, civic and community leaders.

To jumpstart the project, the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative has requested $80 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said Christopher Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. The development corporation has about $1 billion left, and its decision on the allocation of most of the remaining funds is expected to be announced within the next few months.


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