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Thread: Chinatown hopes for rebirth

  1. #76
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Oh NOOOOO...that pagoda-like building was SO cool...I dug up this photo I took in '07:


    To replace this with another glass box is a shame. All of New York will be boring glass boxes, every neighborhood identical.

  2. #77
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    The glass boxes make me feel I am walking through the mall.....


    Some are done really nicely, granted, but I grew up in mall country. I don't need neighborhoods in Manhattan reminding me of my youth!!!

  3. #78
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    It's starting to remind me of OneState, the dystopian society in the novel WE, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, where the whole city is constructed of glass- all the buildings look the same and all the people dress identically.

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    The lost of the pagoda is sad but I think its an over exaggeration to say the city is being overtaken by glass boxes. Outside of Midtown and Downtown you can count on one hand how many glass buildings exist on any given street. For instance, Broadway between 30th Street and Canal only have 2 glass buildings out of hundreds.

  6. #81
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That ^ is mainly because a good part of that stretch of Broadway is within one or another protected Historic District:

  7. #82
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    September 11th, 2009


    City Says Chatham Square Project Delayed Two Years

    This week NYC transportation officials told members of Community Board 3 the controversial revamp of Chatham Square is on hold for about two years. During the summer, the Department of Transportation acknowledged the delay, due to "timing and coordination issues." Some neighborhood activists feared the project would resume soon after the upcoming mayoral election. But Wednesday night, DOT Commissioner Luis Sanchez told CB3's transportation committee that the Chatham Square reconstruction will have to wait on the rehab of the Brooklyn Bridge, scheduled to begin December 1.

    Sanchez said the Park Row Pedestrian Bridge project would be accelerated. But he said it would be too disruptive to work on both the Chatham Square traffic reconfiguration and the Brooklyn Bridge ramp redesign simultaneously.

    Sanchez said the Chatham Square project was initially delayed due to "technical reasons."

    Community groups fought a long battle with the city to change the Chatham Square plan.

    http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/20...two-years.html



    June 11th, 2009


    CB3 "Disappointed" in City's Handling of Chatham Square Revamp

    A committee of Community Board 3 expressed bewilderment and dismay last night that the city has apparently held up the controversial reconstruction of Chatham Square without making any kind of official announcement.

    The project, reviled by Chinatown residents and opposed by Community Boards 3 and 1, as well as elected officials, was supposed to begin this summer. The delay came to light a week ago on the blog of the Civic Center Residents Coalition. Citing a tipster, the blog said the board of the Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association got the news in a private meeting with a Department of Transportation commissioner. The DOT later told Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office that bids for the project had not gone out. This, in spite of the fact that the DOT said back in February that it would not consider changes to the plan because the request for bids would be made in a matter of days.

    Last night, CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said the DOT declined an invitation to appear at the transportation committee meeting. The committee passed a resolution expressing disappointment with the handling of the issue and requesting new negotiations with the community about the Chatham Square plan.

    Jan Lee, representing the Chinatown residents, expressed outrage that the city did not officially announce the delay, calling it "completely unacceptable." He requested an investigation to determine whether the DOT broke any laws by failing to notify the community about a major decision affecting so many people.

    In today's edition of the Downtown Express, a city spokesman said, "the project is not suspended or shelved... we are working on some timing and coordination issues." But there was no mention of when construction might begin.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, neighborhood groups and politicians rallied at the offices of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, demanding it withhold $31 million earmarked for the project. City Councilman Alan Gerson, City Council candidate Margaret Chin (Gerson's rival) and City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson were among those attending the rally.

    Last night, the CB3 committee discussed adding language to the resolution implying that mayoral politics could have been behind the decision to delay the project. They speculated that work on Chatham Square would resume soon after the election in November. But ultimately it was decided that would be unwise.

    The city's plan for Chatham Square would reconfigure a seven way intersection that is both dangerous and confusing to motorists. They would connect East Broadway to Worth St. and the Bowery to St. James Place. In the process Park Row, which has been closed to traffic since 9/11 due to security concerns would be permanently cut off.

    People in the community believe the plan will actually make congestion in the area worse, create a more dangerous situation for pedestrians and strangle local businesses during the long construction period. They have submitted an alternative proposal, which would leave most of the intersection as it is but connect St. James Place to East Broadway. The city rejected their plan, saying it would not address the traffic flow problems.

    Since bids have not gone out for the first part of the project, Stetzer said it's unlikely construction could begin for at least six months. Members of the committee said the DOT "has not kept good faith" and has discounted community concerns at every turn. They hope the delay will now give the residents of Chinatown what they have been seeking for so long: a chance to be heard.
    You can read more about the alternative plan for Chatham Square, proposed by residents, here.

    http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/20...re-revamp.html


  8. #83
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Chatham Sq. work appears to be on hold for two years

    By Julie Shapiro

    The unpopular reconfiguration of Chatham Square will not begin for at least two years, a city Dept. of Transportation official said earlier this month.

    The city cannot rip up Chatham Square now because work on the Brooklyn Bridge is about to begin, and having both projects going at once would create traffic problems, Luis Sanchez, D.O.T.’s Lower Manhattan borough commissioner, told Community Board 3’s Transportation Committee Sept. 9, according to attendees.

    Three people who attended the public meeting gave similar accounts of Sanchez’s comments, but a D.O.T. spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the two-year figure after the meeting.

    Anne Johnson, a C.B. 3 member, said she was happy to hear Sanchez say the street reconfiguration would be delayed for so long.

    “I never wanted the project to happen in the first place,” she said.

    The D.O.T. has long planned to realign the streets in Chatham Square’s complicated seven-way intersection, connecting E. Broadway to Worth St. and Bowery to St. James Pl. The $50 million project effectively cuts Park Row out of the intersection and replaces its unused lanes with a pedestrian promenade. Park Row has been closed to traffic since 9/11 because of its proximity to police headquarters, and though residents often call for the street to reopen, the city wants to keep it closed.

    Those who oppose the Chatham Square plan are concerned that it will not improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, and they also worry that ripping up the streets will hurt small businesses.

    While the street reconfiguration will have to wait two years to begin, the city plans to start sooner on the tree-lined Park Row promenade and an adjacent pedestrian bridge connecting Chinatown to the Civic Center, C.B. 3 members said. Those pieces of the project are less controversial, and the pedestrian bridge is generally seen as an amenity. Monty Dean, D.O.T. spokesperson, would not give a timeline on this piece of the project either, but he confirmed that the Park Row work would likely begin before the street reconfiguration.

    The street reconfiguration has to wait because the Brooklyn Bridge will be closed to Manhattan-bound traffic on some nights and weekends over the next several years while the bridge’s roadway and supports are repaired. The closures will funnel extra traffic over the Manhattan Bridge into Chatham Square, which will have to be in good condition to handle the influx. The city had been citing the pending bridge work as a reason to rush the Chatham Square project, but now the city has concluded that the intersection would not be ready for the extra traffic if work began soon.

    Jan Lee, a Chinatown activist and business owner who has fought the city’s Chatham Square plan, said it made sense to delay the work for traffic reasons, but he thinks the biggest reason the city is delaying the project is to short-circuit community protests in an election year.

    Still, regardless of the city’s motivation, Lee hopes that the extra time will give the community another chance to influence the design.

    “The community now has time to thoroughly analyze the alternatives,” Lee said.

    Susan Stetzer, district manager of C.B. 3, pointed out that the city has not been amenable to changing the plan so far. She does not see the delay as a sign that D.O.T. is backing off.

    “We’ve always known they were going to do it,” she said.

    Beyond just delaying Chatham Square, the Brooklyn Bridge reconstruction will have a large impact on Lower Manhattan traffic once work starts this December. The $300 million project will last until 2014 and includes widening the approach ramps, painting the bridge, waterproofing the roadway and repairing the bridge’s supports.

    Some parts of the bridge, including the railing, have not been upgraded since the bridge’s opening 125 years ago.

    “If we don’t do something about it, we’re going to have a huge problem,” said Rajendra Navalurkar, project manager for D.O.T.

    The bridge will remain open on weekdays, but will close to Manhattan-bound vehicles on some nights and on 24 weekends starting sometime in December, D.O.T. said. The Manhattan Bridge will easily handle most of the overflow traffic, Navalurkar said, “But the issue is once you get off the bridge, where do you go?”

    The city will change some local parking regulations to widen streets and will post traffic agents at key intersections. The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center will coordinate the effort, though the agency usually does not work so far to the north, Stetzer said.

    After Navalurkar presented the plans to Community Board 1 earlier in the month, board members asked if tolls on the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel could be waived during the Brooklyn Bridge’s closures. Joannene Kidder, with D.O.T.’s bridges division, said that would be difficult because of the bureaucracy involved, but D.O.T. was meeting with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to discuss it.

    “It’s not as crazy as it sounds,” Kidder said.

    Board members also asked about the noise of the work, and Kidder said the contractor would install pre-cut panels for the roadway, a method that reduces the need for jackhammers.

    Still, she concluded, “There’s no such thing as silent construction.”

    http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_33...hamsquare.html

  9. #84
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Theater could have second act as performance center

    DOWNTOWN EXPRESS
    By Julie Shapiro
    January 1 - 7, 2010


    A 1935 picture of the Loew’s theater on Canal St.

    INFO AT CINEMA TREASURES

    The long-shuttered Loew’s Canal Theater in Chinatown could get a new life as a performing arts center.

    The proposal to fix up and reopen the 83-year-old theater is far from a done deal, but the space’s owner agreed last week to do a feasibility study.

    “It would be the first theater opening in Chinatown in over a generation, probably several generations,” City Councilmember Alan Gerson said. “It’ll bolster the arts and culture of Chinatown and it will also bolster the economy.”

    Gerson began fighting for a performing arts center for Chinatown after 9/11. Amid many disagreements over the future of the neighborhood and how revitalization money should be spent, a cultural center was one of the few ideas that garnered no opposition, recalled Amy Chin, president of the nonprofit leading the project’s planning.

    “There’s no central gathering space, no place indoors for large-scale community events,” Chin said. “Virtually all cultural groups [in Chinatown] are operating out of spaces that are just decrepit.”

    Progress on the performing arts center has been slow over the past eight years, in large part because it is difficult to find a large, available space in Chinatown. With the nonprofit CREATE in Chinatown (Committee to Revitalize and Enrich the Arts and Tomorrow’s Economy), Chin has looked into dozens of possibilities.

    But no space is quite like the Loew’s Canal, at 31 Canal St. near Ludlow St. Designed by renowned theater architect Thomas Lamb, the 2,339-seat theater opened in 1926. Many of the original, ornate, terra-cotta details remain, although the seats were cleared out long ago when the theater was turned into a warehouse.

    For about the last 25 years, the theater has been owned by Thomas Sung, founder of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank in Chinatown. CREATE started talking to Sung about the space three years ago and even sent Rogers Marvel Architects in to examine it.

    But Sung initially had other ideas, hoping to rent the theater to a commercial tenant and build condos above. He filed plans to that effect with the city Department of Buildings during the summer, though they have not yet been approved, possibly because the city is looking to landmark the building.

    But then, this week, Sung and CREATE released a joint statement saying they are committed to rebuilding the theater. In an interview Tuesday, Sung said a theater would be good for the community, especially because it would offer a central place to experience Chinese culture.

    Sung said he is willing to give up the rent he could make from the ground-floor theater space, but only if he is able to use the building’s air rights to build 12 or 13 stories of condos on top. It is unclear how feasible it would be to build the condos, because they would have to be supported by the theater below, which is an open space with no columns. Sung is consulting with an engineer.

    “We are very much dedicated to seeing this happen,” Sung said, “but there are always financial constraints and physical constraints.” On the chances of the theater being built, he said, “I hate to speculate.”

    When Rogers Marvel looked at the space for CREATE a couple of years ago, they drafted renderings of a condo tower atop the column-free theater space, which is what Sung is hoping for.

    CREATE has received $150,000 for the performance center from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and is slated to get an additional $140,000 for the next phase of planning.

    In case the Loew’s Canal space does not come through, Chin is still looking at other possibilities. One is 70 Mulberry St., a city-owned building that houses the Chinatown Manpower Project, the Chen Dance Center and, formerly, the Museum of Chinese in America. Even if the building could not house a 500-seat theater, renovations and the addition of an elevator could still make it a place for the Chinatown community to gather, Chin said.

    But Chin said no other space comes close to the grandeur and historical significance of the Loew’s Canal Theater. It was once one of many theaters on the east side of Lower Manhattan, before Broadway and 42nd St. became the city’s theater district. Most of those old theaters have since been demolished, to make way for Confucius Plaza and other buildings, Chin said.

    “This is a cultural treasure in our community,” Chin said. “There’s a long history there. It would just be astounding if it was restored.”

    © 2009 Community Media, LLC

  10. #85
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Scads of Thomas Lamb's Plans for the 31 Canal Street Theater, New York, NY posted at Picasa by "K" including this drawing of the facade:

    *
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  11. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
    The lost of the pagoda is sad but I think its an over exaggeration to say the city is being overtaken by glass boxes. Outside of Midtown and Downtown you can count on one hand how many glass buildings exist on any given street. For instance, Broadway between 30th Street and Canal only have 2 glass buildings out of hundreds.

    I think the proposed office building in this location is an improvement.



  12. #87
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    New buildings built nowadays in Chinatown are generally no-frills when it comes to appearance. That is really unfortunate.

    The problem I have of the above is that if you're going to tear down something that was interesting and had character, at least replace it with something also equally interesting but no, we get another faceless, boring glass box.

    For example, they could do something like this and that whole square would have been so much more beautiful and interesting:


  13. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
    New buildings built nowadays in Chinatown are generally no-frills when it comes to appearance. That is really unfortunate.

    The problem I have of the above is that if you're going to tear down something that was interesting and had character, at least replace it with something also equally interesting but no, we get another faceless, boring glass box.

    For example, they could do something like this and that whole square would have been so much more beautiful and interesting:
    I can appreciate what you're saying, but to me most modern pagoda style buildings seem a little too nostalgic about our "idea" of Chinatown, especially that ^ one on Canal St. If a new historicist (nostalgic, backward-looking) building was built in midtown, there would, as you know, be a lot of protesting.

    The proposed building in that rendering seems a bit more than "another faceless, boring box"; those heavily tapered floor slabs remind me (perhaps in only the slightest way) of Maillart or Corbusier.

  14. #89
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about what you mean by protesting. Are you saying the followers of development on this forum would protest or the overall public would protest?

    Either case, that couldn't be further from the truth. There is growing resentment for all-glass buildings in the city. If anything else, I sense a fondness for retro brick and stone buildings in the city. 15 CPW, 30 Park Place, The Harrison, The Brompton, 531 WEA and to some extent, even 400 Fifth Ave., are a few current examples that come to mind.

    It's funny how every boring glass box nowadays when criticized, tries to make some sort of claim to be Corbursier-inspired when in fact it is nothing more than a testimony to greed, cheapness and laziness design.

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