Volume 17 • Issue 8 / July 16 - 22, 2004

Chinatown Y to open in 2005

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Model of the proposed Chinatown YMCA on Bowery at Houston St.

At the end of next year, the Chinatown YMCA will expand into a gleaming new facility that will open on the Bowery at Houston St.

On July 15, officials announced the beginning of a $2 million capital campaign to raise the remaining funds necessary for the $14 million project. The Chinatown Y will occupy 40,000 square feet of a 462,000 square-foot center being developed by AvalonBay Communities.

The new Y will represent a significant expansion of the Chinatown Y’s current programs, located in six schools community-wide. Local residents can’t wait for the new facility, with its full gym, volleyball courts, computer and meeting rooms, and perhaps most invitingly, a six-lane, competitive-size swimming pool.

“Finally, I’ll learn to swim,” said Kelly Lin, 14, a Chinatown resident. Lin said she and many of her friends, as city kids, had no real opportunity to learn to swim—until now.

The Chinatown Y has already received $1.3 million in commitments toward its $2 million goal, said Hong Shing Lee, the executive director of the Chinatown Y. Among the private contributions received thus far were $500,000 from Esther and Norman Lau-Kee, and $250,000 from May and Bong Yu. Along with these and other private donations, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields pledged $200,000, City Councilperson Alan Gerson pledged $125,000 and the City Council Manhattan delegation pledged $500,000. With all these pledges, the Y must raise only another $700,000.

Construction began late last year on the building, which will be 14 stories on the Chrystie St. side and eight stories on the Bowery side. Along with the Y, the structure will house a large supermarket and 361 apartments.

Twenty percent of the apartments will be set aside for moderate-income residents. There will be 73 studios, 199 one-bedroom units, and 89 two-bedroom units, said Robert Paley, senior development director at AvalonBay.

AvalonBay is contributing about $12 million toward the new recreation center, which will be operated by the Y and its partner, University Settlement. Jack Lund, the president and C.E.O. of the YMCA of Greater New York, predicted that the brand new Y would be so wonderful that it would leave residents wanting more.

“When the new Y opens, you will say it’s too small,” Lund said at the July 15 event. “You’ll wonder how you got on without it, and you’ll be amazed at the impact it’ll have on the community.”


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