Press Release

City to Discuss the Future of Historic Chinatown Building Before Community Board 3

May 5, 2020

City Leaders Will Provide Updates on Building Demolition and Gather Feedback about 70 Mulberry Street

NEW YORK – NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Lisette Camilo today announced that city leaders will attend an upcoming Manhattan Community Board 3 meeting to discuss the historic 70 Mulberry Street building that was severely damaged by a five-alarm fire in January.

“This historic building has been a vital part of the Chinatown community for many generations, and we want the community to be involved in planning its future,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “This forum will offer an opportunity for the city to provide the latest updates about the situation and to answer questions from the community. 70 Mulberry Street has played an important role in the history of this community and we want it to play the same important role in its future.”

On May 14, 2020, DCAS and other city agencies will present an update before the Community Board 3 Land Use Committee. City officials will offer updates on the present condition of the building, the safety of the structure, the successful removal of tenant property, and plans for demolition. This will be the first of several meetings being planned by the City leaders and other stakeholders to provide information about the building at 70 Mulberry and to listen to community feedback.

“The damage to 70 Mulberry Street is a devastating loss for our community,” said Alysha Lewis-Coleman, Chairperson of Manhattan Community Board 3. “Community Board 3 is thankful that we can fulfill our mandated role during this shut-down to host a Zoom meeting to provide the ability to participate in decision making for our community. This will be an ongoing process, and we work with all to ensure the community has the proper engagement and input into the future of 70 Mulberry Street.”

“70 Mulberry is a vitally important institution not just to the people of Chinatown but also to Manhattan and New York City,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “In its first life, generations of children were educated in the building; in its second, it served both as a cultural hub and an archive of Chinese American heritage. It’s important that the community’s concerns about the building's future are taken seriously, so I thank Commissioner Camilo and Community Board 3 for ensuring that community members are provided with information they deserve. This tele-town hall promises to be a great opportunity to learn about present conditions and to contribute to the planning process for the future of this neighborhood gem.”

"70 Mulberry Street has been a local community anchor for decades, fostering strength, community character and civic pride,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “It is vital that this location remain central to our neighborhood’s future. That requires input and feedback from local residents on plans for rebuilding and restoring this vital site and this meeting will help to advance that goal.”

 “The devastating 70 Mulberry fire affected archives full of stories, art, and commemorations of Chinese Americans in our city and essential community spaces,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “While we are thankful for the City's engagement with the community board, we must remain committed to continuing a transparent process that focuses on bringing the community's voice to the plans for 70 Mulberry. 70 Mulberry is a very important building in our community and it is essential that our neighbors are properly informed on the entire process. Moving forward, we ask that any future plans for this site be fully discussed with the community and our community board to be respectful of the memories of our Chinatown community.”

“The community’s concerns and emotions surrounding this building are valid and must be acknowledged. After the fire, the Mayor made a promise that the City will do everything in its power to bring this historic building back to life, and we stand as ready and committed as ever to ensure the City delivers on this promise,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “The City has an obligation to stay in dialogue with the community, explain their reasons for demolition, and lay out a clear plan to engage residents as we look ahead to rebuilding. We look forward to joining Community Board 3 on their upcoming Land Use meeting. We know this is the first step, and we will continue to ensure that all members of the community stay informed and engaged throughout this process.”

 “United East Athletics Association is truly grateful for the support from Mayor De Blasio, CM Margaret Chin, and DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo,” said Echo Wong, UEAA Treasurer and Board of Directors Member. “With the assistance from their wonderful staff, UEAA was able to retrieve some of our equipment and more importantly finding a potential temporary home to continue our services to the community, while we await our return to 70 Mulberry Street. With so many recent speculations about the future redevelopments of this site, we appreciate this open session from DCAS and CB 3 to keep the public informed.”

“MOCA is deeply indebted to DCAS, Councilmember Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Department of Buildings, Department of Records and Information Services, Department of Cultural Affairs, NYPD, FDNY, and all the city agencies and departments who rallied around the 70 Mulberry tragedy,” said Nancy Yao Maasbach, President of the Museum of Chinese in America. “The Museum of Chinese in America is very grateful to its neighbors at 70 Mulberry Street for the togetherness that we have experienced during and after the 5-alarm fire that ripped through our spaces and our hearts on January 23, 2020 and thereafter. Since the fire, 95% of MOCA’s collections have been extracted; the process of repairing those items continues. Throughout this time, MOCA has prioritized the documentation of the fire as well as the many community gatherings, events, and efforts organized by members of the Chinatown community and other Asian American organizations to support the tenants of 70 Mulberry. 70 Mulberry will always be the center of Chinatown. MOCA is grateful that the visioning process for the new 70 Mulberry will engage tenants and community members. 70 Mulberry is a symbol and beacon for resilience, perseverance, and community.”

“CMP thanks our elected representatives and City officials in remaining committed to re-building 70 Mulberry Street in the midst of a very challenging time,” said Hong Shing Lee, Executive Director of Chinatown Manpower Project. “For the past few months, CMP continues to serve our community, assisting small businesses during this pandemic, helping the unemployed, and preparing for the recovery of our community. We eagerly look forward to taking an active role in planning for the future of our home at 70 Mulberry Street, and contributing as part of this community’s asset.”

 “Thanks to years of support from DCAS, elected and city officials, and the Dept of Cultural Affairs, 70 Mulberry Street, a beautiful historic building, remained a vital centerpiece of NYC’s Chinatown,” said H.T. Chen, founder of Chen Dance Center. “Chen Dance Center looks forward to returning to the restored site so that children can attend dance and music classes in their own neighborhood, NYC artists can share their work, and audiences of all ages can enjoy performances celebrating Chinese American history.

“The Chinese-American Planning Council is grateful for the support of the Mayor’s Office, city agencies especially DCAS and DFTA, and elected officials for their support in the aftermath of the fire at 70 Mulberry Street,” said Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council. “We look forward to moving our Chinatown Senior Center back into the new building, so more than 300 seniors per day will have a safe space for a hot meal, social interaction, cultural programs, English classes, public benefits enrollment, and more. The Community Board 3 meeting will be a good opportunity for city officials and community members to learn more about the future of the site.”

Following the fire, Mayor de Blasio expressed his commitment to rebuilding the site. Community feedback will be a vital part of the planning process for the next steps. No decisions have been made about the future of the site.

The Community Board 3 Land Use Committee meeting will be held via Zoom on Thursday, May 14th at 6:30 p.m. Members of the public may join the meeting:

By Phone: +1 646 518 9805, +1 929 205 6099

Meeting ID: 943 0252 2214

About DCAS

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) provides effective shared services to support the operations of New York City government. Its commitment to equity, effectiveness, and sustainability guides its work with city agencies on recruiting, hiring, and training employees; providing facilities management for 56 public buildings; acquiring, selling, and leasing city property; purchasing more than $1 billion in supplies and equipment each year; and implementing conservation and safety programs throughout the city's facilities and vehicle fleet.

Nick Benson

(212) 386-0250