Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood is the latest recipient of a $20 million award from New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, an economic development program led by the Department of State, Empire State Development, the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and NYSERDA. The award will support 11 projects across the neighborhood that will improve streetscape connectivity and support the creation of new public gathering spaces, community facilities, and public artworks.
In a statement from New York governor Kathy Hochul, Chinatown was selected in recognition of the acute effects the pandemic had on neighborhood businesses, residents, and cultural destinations.
“This announcement marks a historic moment for Chinatown’s community,” said governor Hochul. “These critical investments will transform the neighborhood and create a more vibrant and inviting destination for locals and visitors alike, while enriching the neighborhood by improving foot traffic, economic, and cultural activity.”
A total of $5 million, the largest allocation from the award, will support the renovation of Kimlau Square, a pedestrian plaza and greenspace that sits at the convergence of Worth, Oliver, and Mott Streets, Park Row, St. James Place, and East Broadway. The renovations will create additional seating, irrigation for greenery, and an expansion of the curb along East Broadway for pedestrian safety.
To enhance Chinatown’s visual aesthetic and cultural fabric, there are also plans to construct an elaborate gateway arch, a Chinatown Cultural Welcome Center, and a 3,000-square-foot test kitchen for professionals specializing in commercial-scale Asian cuisine. The city will also commission three large-scale painted wall murals, a light-projected art installation, and 30 small-scale murals at prominent neighborhood locations.
The new cultural programming will cost nearly $4.1 million.
An example of what the Chinatown welcome arch and gateway could look like
Rendering of a large scale mural in Chinatown
Rendering of the Asian Culinary Arts of New York test kitchen
The city will also supply $2.55 million to facilitate the construction of new community facilities and invigorate businesses still recovering from the pandemic slowdown. This includes the construction of a new community health and wellness center at 60 Madison Street, a $1 million grant program for small businesses, and the completion of repairs at NYCHA’s Alfred E. Smith Houses, a 4,700-square-foot childcare and family support center that provides critical community services including daycare.
“Manhattan’s Chinatown is one of the hardest-hit communities by the pandemic,” said assembly member Yuh-Line Niou. “Now, many businesses are reopening or continuing their essential operations. Our community is resilient, and the development of these projects will become additional anchor points for our community as we continue to recover and weather additional COVID waves.”
Additional streetscape improvements include a Park Row beautification and accessibility project, the installation of more neighborhood streetlights to encourage foot traffic, and new greenery and seating at Sara D. Roosevelt Park between Forsyth and Chrystie Streets. These three improvement projects will account for another $8 million.
Renderings of upgrades to Sara D. Roosevelt Park
Rendering of new bike lanes along Sara D. Roosevelt Park
“Chinatown is a New York City landmark and a draw for tourists, but it’s also a dynamic neighborhood that many people call home,” said Hope Knight, president, CEO, and commissioner of Empire State Development. “These DRI projects boost the regional economy by building on the area’s iconic arts and cultural history, while also ensuring that Chinatown feeds the quality of life needs for its residents, from housing to green spaces.”
Details regarding project timelines and selected design teams are expected early next year.
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