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Ousted Hester Street Residents Demand Compensation

Next door to 128 Hester St. Wyndham Hotel's Chinatown venture nears completion.
Next door to 128 Hester St. Wyndham Hotel's Chinatown venture nears completion.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

CHINATOWN — Ousted residents of a Hester Street building, who were promised more than $1 million in relocation compensation after they were kicked out of the building in 2009, launched a petition Monday in an attempt to collect on the funds.

Twenty-nine people were forced to relocate from 128 Hester St. in 2009, after developer and part owner William Su demolished it. In 2010, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal ordered Su to pay more than $1 million in compensation to residents, but the money has yet to change hands, housing advocates complained.

Negotiations between the landowner and his former residents are expected begin again Thursday.

"It has been over two years since the original decision, and William Su has refused to even show up to the conferences to settle with the tenants of 128 Hester St.," said Christopher Kui, executive director of Asian Americans For Equality, a nonprofit advocacy group that spearheaded the petition.

The residents of 128 Hester St. were pushed out of the building in Aug. 2009 when it was deemed unsafe, according to AAFE and Department of Building reports.

Since the demolition, residents, advocates from AAFE, Councilwoman Margaret Chin and New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron have been among those pushing for compensation.

Advocates say they also hold the owners of the Wyndham Hote,l which was built behind the property, partially responsible for the displacement because construction on the hotel may have contributed to the deterioration of the building.

"As the operator of the hotel, we hold Wyndham Worldwide equally accountable for the lack of action of William Su to provide just and fair compensation to the tenants of 128 Hester St.," said Kui.

Wyndham did not respond to an email for comment.

In May 2010 DHCR ordered Su to pay close to $1 million, but according to Su’s lawyer, Stuart Klein, the amount was withdrawn because of a miscalculation in what was a fair amount.

The DHCR did not return a call for comment.

Negotiations are set to begin again Thursday to determine if the case can be settled or whether it needs to go through to a hearing, according to Klein.

Klein said 128 Hester St. was already in disrepair when the LLC purchased it.

"In the first two weeks that we bought that building we did well in excess of $100,000 of emergency repairs to the basement to stabilize the building," Klein said.