Feds urged to reject plan to sell troubled Chinatown building for low-income seniors;
Chinese-American officials asked for help in selling Chinatown’s historic building;
Chinese officials ask for $2 million in federal assistance after fire;
State approves affordable housing ordinance for Chinatown.
PORT WASHINGTON, NY — Officials in Chinatown urged the federal government Monday to reject a proposal to sell a building for low-income seniors at the center of a federal civil rights investigation into allegations of racial housing discrimination.
A senior planeload of Chinese officials, community leaders and local lawmakers arrived at the office of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to support his recommendation to seize the 12,000-square-foot, four-story building at 725 Washington Street.
The senior planeload of Asian Americans, including several prominent Chinese American representatives, had been scheduled to tour the seven-million-dollar waterfront complex during an event organized by The Real Estate Board of New York in support of Bharara’s investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s role in the alleged discrimination. The government’s efforts to close down the building have been under way for nearly a year.
But officials, including leaders of the Chinese-American community, said Monday evening they would be visiting the building instead. If the federal government approves the sale, they would come back and see the building again.
The Chinese community “is deeply concerned about the impact this plan may have on Chinatown,” said Ching-Yi Lee, president of the Community Preservation Alliance of Chinatown. “The Chinatown is our home, we’re its heart and soul.”
The federal government has been divided this week and will likely have to decide after the three-judge panel convenes on Tuesday morning whether it will allow the building to be sold, according to Bharara spokesman Andrew Goldstein.
“We’re looking at all options,” he said. “We’re looking