Plan Unplanned: Ideas for Affordable Chinatown

The Chinatown Working Group (CWG) Rezoning Plan proposes a path for future development that increases affordable housing, community amenities, and neighborhood-oriented small business while avoiding the displacement, economic segregation, and loss of character that has followed rampant real estate speculation in other neighborhoods of New York. Gentrification and other processes of displacement are already infiltrating Chinatown and the Lower East Side in the form of developments like One Manhattan Square. The CWG Plan honors New York City’s rich immigrant history and the contributions that waves of immigrants have made and continue to make to New York City’s economy and culture. Community-led rezoning is a strategy for preserving one of the last affordable neighborhoods in downtown Manhattan.

Citygroup, a Lower East Side based architecture and planning collective, invited architects and artists to create images in support of the plan. The renderings showcase the balanced approach to urban planning that would be guaranteed—increased availability of affordable housing is provided by development that respects the context already established by existing building heights and landscape. Illustrated below are CWG-based redevelopment for nine sites within the Special District defined by the Plan, including Chinatown’s historic center, its connection to the Bowery, existing NYCHA properties, and along the East River Waterfront.

Working across three languages, the CWG Rezoning Plan was completed in 2014 with the participation of over fifty community organizations. Despite years of organizing, the De Blasio administration has refused to enact the CWG Rezoning Plan that has been developed by and for the Chinatown and Lower East Side community. In a recent court battle, the city has allowed four more luxury towers to be built along the Lower East Side waterfront. Learn more about the details of this plan online, call your City representatives and urge them to support this community-led plan, and join other activists to help spread the word and support the plan!

Participants: See Images Below