Volume 79, Number 18 | Oct 7 - 13, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Demonstration vs. demolition in Chinatown

By Julie Shapiro

Former tenants of 128 Hester St. joined Chinatown activists to protest the demolition of their building last Wed., Sept. 30. The city vacated the building in August after finding it unsafe, displacing 60 tenants who are now mostly staying with friends and relatives.

Asian Americans for Equality, a nonprofit group representing the tenants, had hoped the landlord would repair the building. But instead the interior demolition started last week and the six-story tenement will begin to come down soon. The Department of Buildings said 128 Hester St. was too damaged to save.

“Even though the building is going to be demolished, the fight continues,” said Chris Kui, AAFE’s executive director.

Kui wants William Su, the owner of 128 Hester St., to provide housing and compensation for the tenants, who lost their rent-regulated apartments. In addition, Kui wants the city to permanently stop work on an adjacent 18-story hotel at 91 Bowery, which Su also owns, since work on the hotel is part of what destabilized 128 Hester St. To force a stop to the hotel work, Kui is trying to get United Commercial Bank to revoke the construction loan.

The bank and Su’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

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