The City of New York owns and manages a five-story building located at 70 Mulberry Street. The building was constructed by C.B.J Snyder in 1892 as Public School 23. Among Snyder’s innovations in P.S. 23 was the basement auditorium. It marked the first step in the movement to provide community centers and neighborhood meeting halls within New York City public school buildings. In the mid-1970s, P.S. 23 ceased being a public school and the entire building was converted to serve as a community center for Chinatown. For the next 40-plus years, the building has been the home to five community-based organizations providing invaluable cultural, recreational, and social services for the residents of Chinatown and the City at large.
On January 23, 2020, a fire significantly damaged the site forcing the Department of Buildings to issue a vacate order requiring the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to demolish a portion of the building. The five community-based organizations have since temporarily relocated, but some of the services that they provided are still being offered in reduced capacity at interim locations. As nonprofit organizations, the tenant organization’s inability to provide their services as had been done previously impacts their funding and track record.
The City of New York has committed to redeveloping 70 Mulberry Street with urgency and working to ensure that it will serve as a community resource for future generations. Mayor de Blasio committed to returning all five tenant organizations 70 Mulberry Street. Additionally, in July 2020, the mayor committed $80 million in funding for the rebuilding of 70 Mulberry.