It's not news that Manhattan's Chinatown is an ever-growing beast. Encompassing parts of SoHo, TriBeCa and whatever is left of Little Italy, its unofficial boundaries are expanding with every year. But now, the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation wants to make some of those boundaries official, and is proposing a Business Improvement District that would sprawl for blocks over what neighbors say is not their turf.
Chinatown is traditionally boxed by Canal Street to the north, Worth Street to the south, Centre Street to the west and the Bowery to the east. But the proposed BID would take over traditionally Italian blocks up to Broome Street, and territory west to Broadway, south to Monroe Street and east to Essex Street. And though anyone walking through the neighborhood may think that land is part of Chinatown already, locals say they want no part of the BID.
Ralph Tramontana of the Little Italy Merchant's Association said, "We clean our own streets. We put up our own holiday lights. What good would it do for us?" Kurt Trenkmann, who owns property on Broome, Grand, Centre and Lafayette Streets, says the BID would cost him an extra $22,000 a year in services that the SoHo Partnership already provides.
But the Chinatown Partnership says they have nothing but good intentions. Funding for efforts like Clean Streets is running out later this year, and the partnership says the neighborhood is at a crossroads. Their website says, "One way leads back to the dirty, smelly and neglected Chinatown of the not-so-distant past. The other leads toward making current improvements permanent and ensuring the future of our beloved neighborhood." Blade Runner, here we come.