Chinatown gathering protests development

Protesters from the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV), the Chinatown Tenants Union (CTU) and the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS) gathered at the intersection of East Broadway and Pike Street – the former site of the Hong Kong Market – on Oct. 27 to appeal to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to re-plan zoning in Chinatown. They want a new zoning plan to meet the interests of Chinatown residents and business owners.

Though temperatures dropped significantly, the enthusiasm of the demonstrators didn’t. Protesters shouted: “No expelling but housing!” “No hotels but supermarkets!” “Protect tenants’ rights against gentrification!”

The Hong Kong Market at East Broadway and Pike Street burned down in 2009. A development company is now planning to build a seven-story, 91-room Marriott Hotel at the site.

The director of CTU, Xinlin Wang, said they are not targeting individual development companies. They hope instead that the Bloomberg administration will make a new zoning plan that primarily serves the residents, controls development in Chinatown and provides lower-cost housing and rental space.

Cheng, a member of CTU, said many residents in Chinatown are low-income workers and new immigrants who feel living conditions have worsened in recent years. Another member said that many Chinese move to the U.S. from all over the world to pursue freedom and democracy, and the government should not ignore these low-income residents.

CTU is also taking part in the Culture, Affordability, Preservation and Zoning (CAPZ) Working Team meetings organized by the Chinatown Working Group (CWG). CTU has proposed building more affordable housing; requesting property developers to provide housing in 50 percent of their new projects for low-income tenants; establishing a special district from which tenants won’t be displaced; and protecting the community from being overdeveloped.

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