The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
Take the Money and Run
One Chinatown Restaurant Appears to Have Had a Very Profitable Pandemic
The now-defunct Jaya restaurant, on Baxter Street, was paid $900,000 in taxpayer funds to close, while also allegedly running up more than $400,000 in unpaid rent.
A defunct Chinatown restaurant was paid $900,000 by the City to vacate its space, after also receiving more than $25,000 in federal “paycheck protection” loans (which were later forgiven). The same business is now being sued by its former landlord for more than $400,000 in back rent, which (the landlord alleges) the restaurant failed to pay, at the same time it was receiving generous public subsidies from the City and federal governments.
The restaurant is Jaya, located at 90 Baxter Street, just south of Canal Street, which closed in December. A onetime favorite of Chinatown residents, who savored its highly regarded fusion of Malaysian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine, Jaya was a tenant of the Chung Pak Local Development Corporation, a non-profit that was created in the 1980s, when the administration of then-Mayor Ed Koch planned to demolish the notorious Manhattan House of Detention (more popularly known as “the Tombs”), and replace it with the current Manhattan Detention Complex.
The Chinatown community rose up in protest against this plan, but failed to stop it. The neighborhood succeeded, however, in extracting a significant concession from City Hall: the creation of 88 units of affordable housing for senior citizens adjacent to the new jail, along with 15,000 square feet community facilities, and half a dozen retail spaces — all overseen by Chung Pak.
It was in one of these retail spaces that Jaya opened in 2014. Three decades later, history seems poised to repeated itself, with the City once again planning to demolish an existing jail and build a new one at the same site, once again under the rationale of more modern and humane incarceration. Building this new complex (which is slated to begin in a few days) required demolishing the space occupied by Jaya, however.
This led City negotiators (who originally hoped to begin construction in January of this year) to begin bargaining with Jaya and its owner, Kam Chaw Boon, to leave the Baxter Street space several years before the expiration of the restaurant’s lease, at the end of 2024. Such an entreaty appears to have been fortuitously timed for Mr. Boon. In May, 2019, Chung Pak agreed to reduce Jaya’s base rent, from approximately $13,000 per month to slightly more than $12,000, apparently in response to financial distress being experienced by the restaurant, which had accumulated significant rent arrears. In order to obtain this concession (and the installment plan for repayment of back rent that accompanied it), Mr. Boon was required to sign a personal guaranty, making him directly liable for the restaurant’s debt, in the event that Jaya closed.
These developments were followed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit Chinatown especially hard. Many restaurants, including Jaya, closed for much of 2020. Even after restaurants began reopening, they were deprived of the tourist traffic and patronage by workers from nearby government offices (which were also closed) that Chinatown is dependent upon.
Federal databases show that, during the pandemic, Jaya received two loans from the paycheck protection program (PPP), in the amounts of $14,462 and $10,330, which were approved in May, 2020 and February, 2021, respectively. Both loans were later forgiven, meaning that Jaya was not required to repay them.
During this period, according to court papers filed by Chung Pak, Jaya continued to fall further behind on its rent. But then, in mid-2021, City negotiators approached Mr. Boon, offering to buy out his lease for the space at 90 Baxter Street. He ultimately negotiated a payment of $900,000, in exchange for permanently closing a money-losing restaurant that was, by then, more than $400,000 behind on its rent.
According to court papers filed by Chung Pak as part of a lawsuit against the restaurant and its owner, “Jaya vacated the leased Premises on December 28, 2021, surrendering the space and returning the keys to Chung Pak…. Jaya received $900,000 from the City of New York on December 31, 2021, as a result.”
The legal documents continue that, “due to the City’s urgent need to vacate Jaya from its premises in order to commence its construction work, the parties agreed that Jaya could vacate and surrender its space without waiver or prejudice to Chung Pak’s claims… for the arrears.” This means that Chung Pak was unable intercept the payment from the City to Jaya, and that Mr. Boon was allowed to accept the payment and close the restaurant without first repaying the back rent Jaya is alleged to have accumulated.
As a result, the court papers allege, “Jaya and Boon have failed to render adequate payments to Plaintiff to satisfy their Lease and Guaranty obligations in the sum of no less than $440,389.52.”
This appears to mean that the total benefit accrued by Jaya (about two-thirds of it at public expense) is $1,365,181.52.
A call requesting comment from Mr. Boon was not returned.
Esplanade or Espla-Nada?
City Says Planned Improvements to East River Waterfront Are On Hold
The February 22 meeting of Community Board 1 (CB1) included an update about long-planned improvements to the East River Esplanade, some of which are being cancelled.
Paul Goldstein, the chair of CB1’s Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee, said, “we got a report from Economic Development Corporation [EDC] regarding some of their waterfront assets and projects that are ongoing—or not.” (The EDC is a not-profit corporation controlled by City government, which oversees development of assets, such as publicly owned property.)
“The Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade is one our committee has been reviewing for a number of years,” he added. “It’s a project that basically runs from Peck Slip to Catherine Slip. The design was originally supposed to have plazas and planting areas, and included a green space that was well received.”
“Unfortunately, a lot this project is not moving ahead for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Goldstein explained, “the biggest one being that the City is focusing much more on resiliency, and they don’t want to go ahead with improvements that may interfere with that.” To read more…
Stan Braverman (1948 – 2022)
Devoted to Family, Married at Windows, and Enamored of Automotive Elegance
(Editor’s Note: Longtime Battery Park City resident Stan Braverman died on February 28. This remembrance is provided by his widow, Maryanne Braverman.)
Early Monday morning, Stan passed away. He is free of the body that disappointed him. May his spirit of caring friendship, devoted fatherhood, and supportive partnership remain with each of us who knew him. To read more…
Seaport Kids will partner with Private Picassos to present Pipe Cleaner Craft for kids of all ages on Wednesday, March 9.
Professional arts instructors will guide children in the use of wood blocks, colorful wire, pipe cleaners, beads and foam stickers to create their own free-standing sculptures. Admission is free. For more information, please browse: theseaport.nyc/events/
Ernest Glaser was born Ernst Adolf Berthold Glaser on March 2, 1924 in Berlin. In 1939, his family left Germany to escape the Nazis and attempted to immigrate to the United States, but the family ended up in Shanghai, China. The Glasers thought that they would only be in Shanghai for a year at most, but ended up staying for eight years, until 1947, when they left for the United States. There, Ernest and his family settled in San Francisco. Later, he married, raised a family, and became the president of Avoset Food Corporation. Join the Museum for a program exploring Ernest’s experiences during the Holocaust and in Shanghai. Free; suggested $10 donation
Join Roger McCormack, Director of Education at The Bronx County Historical Society, to explore the significance of the Bronx in the American Revolution. This lecture will highlight the Battle of Pell’s Point, the impact of the war on ordinary Bronx farmers and inhabitants, and the general history of the war in the Bronx. This lecture will be held via Zoom. Registration ends at 5:30pm on the day of the lecture. Free
Zoom lecture presented by Catherine Prescott and Mary Tsaltas-Ottomanelli. This installment of Tavern Tastings explores the history of whiskey: its creation, rise in popularity during the 18th century in North America, and how its role in the economy of the burgeoning United States incited a rebellion. Free; suggested donation of $10
Hometown School Makes Good
Community College in Tribeca Honored as Top School for Hispanics
The Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) has been named one of the nation’s top ten two-year schools (by region) for Hispanic students, in rankings compiled by Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine. Separately, BMCC (which is located on Chambers Street) has also been designated as the top-ranking City University of New York (CUNY) college in terms of awarding the highest number of degrees—a total of 2,062—to Hispanic students, and the highest-ranked college in the northeastern United States as measured by the same metric.
The Downtown Alliance is raffling off a couple’s getaway in Lower Manhattan, which includes a two-night stay at the Beekman Hotel, dinner for two at the Michelin-starred Crown Shy restaurant, tickets to the One World Trade Center observation deck, and a $500 voucher for qualifying travel-related expenses.
To be entered in the contest automatically, download and use the Alliance’s new augmented reality Instagram filter (while tagging @downtownnyc), which allows users to superimpose three-dimensional renderings of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Fearless Girl, the Oculus and One World Trade Center on any landscape they choose. For more information, please browse: downtownny.com
Safe Space for Teens
Starting Monday, March 14, Trinity Church’s Youth Afterschool program will offer everything from basketball and mindfulness to test prep and use of a teaching kitchen.
All activities, which are free and open to students in grades six through 12, will be hosted in the teens-only space on the fifth floor of Trinity Commons (the new community building behind Trinity Church), located at 76 Trinity Place.
Trinity Youth strives to practice “radical welcome” by including not only parishioners and students from Trinity’s school partnerships, but youth from across New York City, and the inclusion all people regardless of background, beliefs, or experience. (Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is required.) For more information, or to enroll, please browse: trinitywallstreet.org/youth
‘He Drove Me Away Like A Dog’
Black History Month: Lower Manhattan Taken for a Ride on Monument It Actually Needs
While the saga of Rosa Parks and the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott has become a canonical American parable, New York played out its own version of the same drama, more than a century earlier. In July, 1854, Lower Manhattan resident Elizabeth Jennings Graham was on her way to church, and boarded a horse-drawn street car at Chatham and Pearl Streets.
Like much else in mid-19th century New York, street car service was segregated, with most coaches reserved for white riders, but some bearing signs that read, “Negro Persons Allowed in This Car.”
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
Ethical and respectable gentleman, an IT Wizard, seeks a living/work space in BPC. Can be a Computer help to you and your business, or will guarantee $1,500 for rental. Reciprocal would be great!
Folk dance group seeks empty space of 400+ sq feet for 2 hours of weekly evening dance practice.
Average attendance is 10 women. This is our hobby; can pay for use of the space.
Call 646 872-0863 or find us on Facebook. Ring O’Bells Morris.
Kind loving and honest Nurse’s aide seeking FT/PT job. Experience with Alzheimer’s patients
Excellent references available please call Dian at 718-496-6232
HOUSEKEEPING/ NANNY/ BABYSITTER
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
Call Tenzin 347-803-9523
Get Rich or Get Out
Analysis By Housing Group Cites Declining Affordability in Lower Manhattan
A leading housing advocacy organization has completed an exhaustive look at threats to affordability in every community in the five boroughs, and has found that Lower Manhattan ranks among the ten most at-risk neighborhoods by one key metric, while also placing in the 20 most-endangered by another.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.