Last January, just days before the Lunar New Year, a fire broke out at 70 Mulberry Street in Chinatown. The publicly owned building was devastated, forcing out the five local nonprofits who were its tenants.
That July, Mayor de Blasio committed $80 million to help rebuild the structure. Today, he tacked on another $90 million. The announcement comes after a yearlong public input process and preservation assessment, meant to engage residents in the project planning.
The restoration will provide 50,000 square feet for returning tenants, 6,500 square feet of new office space and two new floors. It will also restore the building’s façade and tack on a multipurpose room, which will serve as a gym and auditorium, according to a press release.
The project will add an elevator and increase accessibility at 70 Mulberry, allowing more than 300 seniors to get a hot meal and enjoy cultural programs at the building, according to Wayne Ho, president and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council.
The plan garnered support from Council Member Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Representative Nydia Velázquez. Many details remain to be hammered out, though, as Brewer pointed out in a statement.
“I look forward to hearing about the proposed designs,” she said, “and a continuation of the efforts to engage with the community and local stakeholders.”
The remaining deliberations are likely part of the reason why officials don’t expect the work to be completed until 2027 at the earliest. Aside from rounding up political support, substantial city projects also require a public bidding process, budgetary allocations, coordination among various agencies and various sign-offs.
“It’s a standard timeline for a project this size,” said Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction.
The 70 Mulberry Street project will also bridge administrations, as the term-limited de Blasio leaves office at the end of this year.