Friends and neighbors,
We met with City Planning:
a) They want hotels to line the Bowery and they want to develop Chinatown.
b) They are completely, stubbornly and adamantly dedicated to the EV/LES rezoning.
(a) is bad, but (b) presents an opportunity for our community and office holders to play hardball. Now is the moment to leverage (b) against (a). Alan Gerson has stated he will oppose the plan unless it is improved. That's the right strategy.
Now is the moment to demand that Chinatown and the Bowery be included in the plan. There will be no protection for Chinatown and the Bowery unless this moment is seized. Even if Chinatown and the Bowery don't get into the plan, only the firm demand that they be included will yield any progress towards a deal to protect Chinatown.
The community and office holders must unite behind this strategy, otherwise there will be no Bowery and no Chinatown sooner than you think. Gentrification is a self-propelling process. Once a couple of hotels go up in a neighborhood, upscale bars and clubs displace local business, real estate value rises, landlords harass, empty apartments, warehouse them and then sell to developers. There is no road back.
Some on the Community Board have urged us to accept the plan without dissent or question, for fear that DCP would abandon the rezoning. This was alarmist fear then and is absurd now that the city has spent millions on the Environmental Impact Statement (yes, millions -- these are hugely expensive studies) and is even more committed than ever. Frightened acceptance is completely unnecessary.
Let me repeat that for those who have been listening to the alarmist fear mongers:
Frightened acceptance is completely unnecessary because the city is completely committed to carrying this rezoning forward.
Our community board members must set aside the divisions and squabbles of the past, hear the people of Chinatown and the Bowery, shed the mode of desperate fear and step up to the plate. Let's not see the community board throw the game to DCP. Let's watch the community board play hardball for the people of Bowery & Chinatown.
TOWN HALL ON LES REZONING
Monday, May 12, 6:30pm,
Public School 20,
166 Essex Street
(btwn Houston & Stanton)