As the community of Chinatown and the Lower East Side was struggling through the pandemic, Alex and Jonathan Chu, the biggest landlords in Chinatown, displaced the beloved Jing Fong Restaurant. This effectively put over 100 unionized immigrant workers out of work and sent a shock wave throughout the community, as people saw the biggest dining hall in the heart of Chinatown closed. It is clear that the Chus do not have the interest of the community in mind.
Mayor de Blasio’s refusal to intervene to reopen the Jing Fong dining room is the latest offense in a pattern of his collusion with big developers and bad landlords. First, he refused to pass the community-led Chinatown Working Group Rezoning Plan to preserve affordability and limit real estate speculation in immigrant neighborhoods. Rather, his idea of helping Chinatown is constructing a new jail and bribing the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), where Jonathan Chu is Chair of the Board, with $35 million in exchange for their support for his project. Now he defers to Chu again, staying silent on the displacement of Jing Fong, and enriching Chu’s property values by trying to upzone SoHo/NoHo and the borders of Chinatown.
As elected officials, you have the responsibility to heed the concerns of the people that you represent. We say: end the City’s displacement agenda and protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side from destruction by big developers and bad landlords. We call on you to take immediate steps:
1. Demand the Chu family reopen the Jing Fong dining room
2. Stop the new jail and instead use the resources (including the $35 million to MOCA) to fund recovery for workers and small businesses most affected by the pandemic
3. Lower the real estate tax for small property owners who are willing to lower commercial and residential rent
4. Stop displacement by rejecting the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning and passing the FULL Chinatown Working Group plan to protect the entirety of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.