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Chinatown Connections will redesign the gateway to Manhattan’s Chinatown into a safe and vibrant space that celebrates the neighborhood’s Chinese heritage, improves multimodal circulation into and around Chinatown, and supports local businesses.

For over 150 years, Manhattan’s Chinatown has been an important home for the Chinese diaspora in New York City and a destination for Chinese Americans all along the Eastern Seaboard. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic had a deep impact on Chinatown, with many businesses experiencing hardship.

In 2022, in response to the acute challenges the neighborhood is facing, the Chinatown neighborhood received $20 million in grant funding from the New York State (NYS) Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) for 11 projects to support the neighborhood’s economic recovery. Local stakeholders identified these 11 projects through the Chinatown Downtown Revitalization Strategic Investment Plan as catalytic investments intended to improve multimodal circulation into and around Chinatown, support local businesses, and celebrate the neighborhood’s rich cultural history.

Two people walking through Kimlau Square in New York City

Improving the Public Realm

Three of the project awards granted to the City of New York propose making public realm improvements around Chinatown’s southern gateway at Chatham Square. These projects represent a combined $11.5 million in funding from DRI. The City of New York and NYS Department of State are combining the three DRI projects into one project known as “Chinatown Connections.” Chinatown Connections merges the $11.5 million DRI award with $44.5 million in City capital to deliver the following public realm improvements:

Reimagining Chatham/Kimlau Square

Chatham/Kimlau Square features a six-point intersection with complex traffic movements; this results in many conflict points, which endanger drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. In consultation with the local Chinatown community, the City will kick off public engagement and a traffic study to reimagine Chatham/Kimlau Square as a standard, four-way intersection with larger public space, shorter pedestrian crossings, and direct bicycle connections.

Beautifying the Park Row Connection to Chinatown

Park Row is a critical walking and biking route connecting Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the new public space at the Brooklyn Bridge Arches. The City will launch a Street Improvement Project on the Park Row connection to Chinatown, between Frankfort Street and Chatham/Kimlau Square. In consultation with the local community, the city will implement improvements to upgrade the walking and biking experience into Chinatown, including safety enhancements, art interventions, new planters, and additional wayfinding and signage.

Creating a Chinatown Welcome Gateway

The City will build a Chinatown Welcome Gateway, located in the vicinity of Chatham/Kimlau Square, finally giving one of New York City’s most historic districts the entrance it deserves. The Chinatown Welcome Gateway will commemorate the cultural heritage of the neighborhood and draw visitors to local businesses. The size and design of the gateway will be determined after a robust community engagement period.

Map of public realm improvements around New York City's Chinatown’s southern gateway at Chatham Square

What’s Next

Chinatown Connections will be supported by a thorough engagement process conducted with consideration for language accessibility, with all engagement events and materials available in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

The engagement process will consist of monthly Community Working Group Meetings, public engagement events at key milestones, community board meetings, an artist selection process run by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for the Gateway, and targeted stakeholder conversations, as needed.

Related Documents
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  • Chinatown Connections Working Group Meeting #2 Presentation May 2024
  • Gateway Subgroup Meeting #1 Presentation April 2024
  • Chinatown Connections Working Group Meeting #1/Manhattan Community Boards 1 and 3 Presentation March 2024
  • Chinatown Downtown Revitalization Strategic Investment Plan August 2022

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