Community Protests City’s Demolition of 70 Mulberry Street

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

May 2020, Photo: Karlin Chan

It’s been five months since a devastating fire tore through the historic PS 23 building at 70 Mulberry Street. And with the city amidst full demolition – permits were approved this month – area preservationists are rallying to save what’s left.

Neighbors argue that there is a total lack of transparency regarding the demolition and redevelopment efforts, the former of which should conclude in October. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services previously appeared before Community Board 3, but provided few details on its intentions.

Ultimately, the advisory board called for a halt to demolition once at the iconic stonework base, and for the city to allow an independent structural engineer experienced in restoration to assess the building.

A slew of local community groups have since organized to host a protest at 70 Mulberry this Saturday (June 27 at 2pm), and to “stand up against demolition.”

“We want the City to stop the building’s ongoing, unnecessary demolition, retain a fully independent preservation structural engineer, and develop an independent analysis of the costs and scheduling implications of restoring the existing building versus building a new building,” the public statement reads. “We want the City to fully fund the restoration and rehabilitation of the building, to be completed as quickly as possible.”

“We do not want a new hi-rise tower or years of an empty lot due to lack of funding.”

The building at 70 Mulberry Street was originally constructed in 1893 as Public School 23 to serve as a model for future “safe” public schools by then-DOE superintendent, BJ Snyder, who went on to design hundreds of city schools. One of its innovative design elements was the basement auditorium, an initial step in a movement to provide community centers and neighborhood meeting halls within schools.

PS23 eventually became a Chinatown anchor, and served generations of immigrant and American-born Chinese students

The protest is sponsored by Bowery Alliance of Neighbors – Chinese Freemasons – #COMA Chinatown Organization for Media Awakening – Historic Districts Council – Karlin Chan – Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – T!C ThinkChinatown – Village Preservation.  Organizers: Karlin Chan, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, and T!C ThinkChinatown.

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