Governor Kathy Hochul today announced eleven transformational projects in Chinatown as part of its $20 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award. In Round 5 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the Regional Economic Development Councils had the opportunity to award two communities $10 million each or one community $20 million. The New York City Regional Economic Development Council chose to award Chinatown a $20 million award in recognition of the specific and acute effects of the pandemic on Chinatown’s businesses and the wider Asian diaspora in New York City. With these revitalization projects, this historic community can thrive again and open its unique corridors, restaurants, businesses, parks and cultural institutions, becoming, once again, a place to visit and celebrate the ethnic diversity of the Chinatown community in the Lower East Side.
Take a look at a Story Map created by National Trust for Historic Preservation on Preserving Chinatowns in the United States (2022).
“This announcement marks a historic moment for Chinatown’s community,” Governor Hochul said. “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.”
Chinatown is an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Manhattan that contains the largest Chinese population in an urban area outside of China, as well as residents of Latin America, Italian and Eastern European Jewish descent and other backgrounds. The community prides itself on its diversity and broad array of cultural attractions, experiences and services The Chinatown Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Strategic Investment Plan is focused on improving the quality of life and economic vibrancy for residents and visitors and building on its history as a cultural destination. Through the DRI, Chinatown is creating welcoming landmarks, streetscapes and public spaces to draw visitors and encourage more foot traffic, and economic and cultural activity. Additionally, the awards will establish a community health and wellness center, provide childcare and a family support center, a culinary arts center and a cultural welcome center.
The investments are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the downstate economy and create more opportunities within New York City. The DRI is led by the Department of State, which provides technical assistance as each participating community develops a Strategic Investment Plan identifying specific projects with a unique vision for the revitalization of the downtown area.
The specific projects to be funded through the DRI support several goals and strategies contained in the community’s Strategic Investment Plan, such as—improved streetscape connectivity and public gathering spaces; increased health, wellness and business opportunities; and enhanced cultural destinations and amenities. The $20 million State DRI investment in these projects will leverage additional public and private sector investment as the revitalization process proceeds and builds momentum.
The specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:
Improve Streetscape Connectivity and Public Gathering Spaces
Renovating Kimlau Square – DRI Award: $5,000,000
Expand public space at Kimlau Square to support a broader mix of community events, draw visitors into the neighborhood, and provide open space in the heart of the community.
Beautifying the Park Row Connection to Chinatown – DRI Award: $4,000,000
Implement capital improvements to beautify and improve accessibility at Park Row from the Brooklyn Bridge to Kimlau Square.
Upgrading a Section of Sara D. Roosevelt Park – DRI Award: $3,285,000
Renovate park areas to expand access to attractive, welcoming public space with seating, shade, and landscaped areas for the multi-generational local community.
Installing Murals & Light Projection Art Throughout Chinatown – DRI Award $924,000
Install three large-scale painted wall murals, a light projection art installation, and 30 small-scale murals at prominent locations in Chinatown.
Expanding Light Up Chinatown Street Lanterns – DRI Award $689,000
Expand street lanterns into more parts of Chinatown over four phases to brighten the streets and encourage more foot traffic.
Increase Health, Wellness and Business Opportunities
Opening a Community Health and Wellness Center- DRI Award $1,000,000
Establish a new community health and wellness center at 60 Madison Street, which would offer high-quality and culturally accessible health and mental health services.
Reopening the Childcare and Family Support Center at Smith Houses – DRI Award $550,000
Repair the 4,700-square-foot childcare and family support center at NYCHA’s Alfred E. Smith Houses to provide daycare and other supportive services.
Creating a Building Upgrades Fund – DRI Award $1,000,000
Establish a grant program to help existing small businesses and building owners make improvements to the local building stock.
Enhance Cultural Destinations and Amenities
Creating a Chinatown Welcome Arch/Gateway – DRI Award: $2,500,000
Build a landmark gateway arch to commemorate the cultural heritage of the area and draw visitors to the neighborhood.
Establishing Asian Culinary Arts of New York – DRI Award $352,000
Revamp an existing 3,000-square-foot kitchen to support the training of professionals specializing in commercial Chinese and other Asian cuisine.
Establishing the Chinatown Cultural Welcome Center – DRI Award $300,000
Create a community gathering space for intergenerational knowledge transfer related to food, art, and culture.
New York State’s DRI, a cornerstone of its economic development program, transforms downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers that offer a high quality of life and are magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, and economic and housing diversity. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State’s bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles
Did you know that the Kimlau War Memorial in Chinatown is a NYC Landmark?
Don’t miss Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s mural ‘Raise Your Voice’ at The Museum of the City of New York ~ and the artists work entitled ‘We Are More” in Times Square ~ Her public art ‘I Still Believe in our City’ and her cover on Time Magazine.
While in Chinatown, don’t miss ‘Assembly for Chinatown’ ~ beautifully personalized open-air outdoor dining spaces on nine sites for thirteen businesses (and more to come).
Did you know that CITYarts restored the mural ‘Flowering Vice & Us‘ in St. James Triangle Park in Chinatown?
While in Columbus Park, don’t miss the monument of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China. This permanent sculpture was unveiled on the anniversary of his 153rd birthday in 2019.
From our archives, Public Art Addressing Anti-Asian Racism ~ the artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya: I Still Believe in Our City and Her Cover on Time Magazine
Visit The Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street, NYC.
While you’re there, don’t miss the photo exhibition ‘A Place for Us: Reflections from Chinatown’ at Think!Chinatown on view through June, 2023.