City urged to build senior housing, community center in Chinatown

River St.

Chinatown community leaders are once again pushing the city to address an empty lot that’s been sitting vacant for years.

In the past, the city considered housing for homeless people at the site behind 1335 River St., but the community rallied against it, saying it could attract the wrong kind of people.

Now, leaders are asking the city to turn it into an affordable senior housing complex with a multicultural community center.

Wesley Fong, president, Chinatown Community Center Association, said out of the 11 affordable housing complexes in Chinatown, only two are dedicated to seniors.

“Chinatown has many many seniors, so here we thought, affordable senior housing, we can make the dream of the residents here in Chinatown come true where they can live and they can work and they can play and they can eat and they can shop,” Fong said. “So what better place than to have it here?”

Fong said the association led Monday several state and city officials, including representatives from the mayor’s office, the city council and the neighborhood board, on a tour of the neighborhood “to show these individuals the historical and cultural aspects of the neighborhood and how it relates to this project. We have temples, we have schools, we have shopping complexes right in this vicinity.”

The city’s managing director, Ember Shinn, said in a statement, “The Caldwell Administration is moving forward with a plan that incorporates community interest in the creation of a community center and mixed income affordable senior/family rental housing development on River Street.”

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