Report: ‘Omens of Upheaval’ Threaten to Destroy Chinatown

Posted on: February 15th, 2017 at 5:18 am by
Pell Street in Chinatown

Pell Street in Chinatown

The subject of gentrification in Chinatown is hitting a tipping point. One need only attend a Community Board 3 meeting to witness the struggle. Residents challenging the succession of uptown style establishments at the expense of more homegrown mom and pops.

Now, Steve Cuozzo at the New York Post talks about the “omens of upheaval” that threaten Chinatown’s longstanding charm.

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Here are a few excerpts. Note the theme park comment.

Creeping in are a new breed of uptown-style restaurants where few Chinese faces are seen, repetitive retail stores — and bank branches. If Industrial and Commercial Bank of China at Canal and Mulberry streets sounds familiar, you might have read that it’s the largest office tenant at Trump Tower.

Chinatown’s eateries always drew a mix of the neighborhood’s 40,000 mostly low-income residents and Chinese and non-Chinese celebrants from elsewhere. Now, for the first time, it’s sprouted a colony of adjacent venues designed mainly for thrill-seekers from beyond, for whom the nabe might be a Chinatown theme park.

Atmospheric, curving Doyers Street is also home to a gentrified, cleaned-up version of eternally grungy Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Mixology-driven cocktail haven Apothoke draws boozing suburbanites to the site of a long-ago opium den.

When our friendly waiter at the fine new Chinese Tuxedo said of our noodles-and-dumplings order, “Let’s do it, guys,” I knew I wasn’t in the Chinatown I remember. The thumping bass soundtrack belonged more in clubland than on Doyers Street. The chef’s a Scotsman by way of Australia.

And of course, there is a business improvement district operating behind the scenes. We all know the goal of these organizations; just look what the Lower East Side Partnership did to Hell Square.

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