Forget Condos; It's Chinatown

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A rendering of the renovated Oversea
Chinese Mission building.Photo: Cetra/Ruddy Incorporated

An old Chinatown building is being overhauled and prettied up, and — shockingly in today's New York — it's not for a condo conversion. The Oversea Chinese Mission, a 44-year-old evangelical outfit with fellowships and libraries and an aging membership, now has luxury condos on either side of its nine-story headquarters at Hester and Mott. But it announced a renovation last week that calls for reworking the building as a beacon to potential new members. "Right now you cannot see into the building," Nancy Ruddy, a partner in local architecture firm Cetra/Ruddy, told us this morning. The firm has designed a two-story façade of glass, metal, and stained glass to lure locals, from late-shift waiters to early risers.

"They're planning museums, libraries, even a café to bring people into the church and create a 24/7 vertical community," Ruddy says. "They have bookstores with things in Mandarin and Cantonese you can’t get anywhere else in New York." A cruciform icon on the roof will make the building's purpose unmistakable, but, even so, drunken hipsters searching for dumplings or cocktails will presumably be welcome, too.
Alec Appelbaum