Kimlau Square to get $55.8 million upgrade
Chinatown in New York City is one of the only Chinatowns in North America without a welcome arch. But according to a recent announcement from Mayor Eric Adams, that’s about to change.
“We’re going to continue to transform our city for the better including a complete makeover of Kimlau Plaza in Chinatown,” Adams told the crowd during his recent State of the City address.
Kimlau Square is getting a $55.8 million dollar face lift, but the arch – a symbol of inclusion in other Chinatowns – is only a small part of it.
Wellington Chen, the Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership, says local leaders have been trying to get the area upgraded for decades. Besides the arch, the city will also be redesigning a chaotic intersection, among other changes.
“Kimlau Square is the convergence point of eight different streets. From the Bowery, from Park Row, from St. James, from Oliver from East Broadway, from Mott Street, from Division Street,” Chen told News 12. They all converge here and in the future, this will be the Columbus Circle of the Lower East Side,” he added.
He says that’s because the Second Avenue Subway will eventually serve this area. But it’s hard to ignore the city’s budget crisis. We’re facing a 5.8-billion-dollar budget gap in FY’25 and crucial city agencies have received deep cuts. Ana Champeny is with the Citizen’s Budget Commission – they're a budget watchdog group. She says the pots are different – this project is coming from the capital budget, which is separate from the operating budget where we’re seeing the cuts.
“Infrastructure is critically important, that you want to ensure you are maintaining your long-term assets. You don’t want to cut back in terms of maintaining your roads or bridges or physical infrastructure to the point that it deteriorates because that will cost more down the line and will essentially sort of kick the can to the next generation,” Champeny told News 12.
Chen says besides the aesthetic change, it will attract some of the 30,000 visitors that the nearby Brooklyn Bridge sees daily.
“The question is why should I come down? I know Park Row exists, but what is there to see at the end of Park Row? It’s Kimlau Square,” he said.
Chen says the project is in the conceptual phase right now and will likely take years to complete.