Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Impending change in Chinatown

Grieve posted the news yesterday that 11 buildings on the Bowery from Canal Street to Houston Street (83-5, 88, 103-5, 219-21, 262, 276-82-84) have just been bought by the owner of Dr. Jays, hip-hop clothing stores. With the exception of 276-84 at the corner of Houston, most of these parcels are not ideal candidates for demolition and redevelopment but the likely replacement of Chinese local-serving retail in 83, 85, 88, 103 and 105 — many of the leases are coming due – will carve out a piece of the Chinatown community.

If new commerce succeeds, it spreads. That's bad news for Chinatown, even though this portfolio was never Chinese-owned. Those four buildings are also residential, so watch out for evictions. The current hotel residents in 88 may be threatened as well. The building is overbuilt, so it's unlikely to be demolished, but it could be renovated and turned into an upscale hotel like the St. Mark's for those seeking the "authentic New York experience."

The Chinatown Working Group, Chinatown's community planning initiative, with over 50 lcoal tenant, labor and social service orgainzations participating, has been meeting on the future of Chinatown, hiring Pratt as their planning consultant. This troubling real estate/retail transaction should be right at the top of the discussion: here's the future, what can Chinatown planning do about it? 

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