City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) is calling on the city to re-evaluate Klein Farm to determine whether the entire property should be designated a landmark in the wake of notorious developer Tommy Huang’s decision to put the historic Fresh Meadows site up for sale.
Weprin joined state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and a number of community activists Sunday at the farm’s entrance along 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows to call on the city to landmark the entire property surrounding the farm, which was built in the 1890s. They also said they wanted the property’s potential new owners to know the community does not want residential or commercial development at the site.
“Klein Farm is a visible piece of Queens’ history,” Weprin said. “This farm was in business before Queens was incorporated into New York City. It is the last farm in New York City other than [Glen Oaks’] Queens County Farm Museum.”
The site operated as a privately owned farm until 2003.
Flushing’s Huang, who owns the property, angered Fresh Meadows community leaders in 2004 with plans to build 18 to 22 two-story homes at the site. The developer was convicted in 1999 of a felony for letting hundreds of gallons of heating oil leak into the ground at the landmarked RKO Keith’s Theatre in Flushing, which he also owned.
In September, Huang struck a deal with Apple Tree Day Care, which operated on the two-acre farm, in Queens Civil Court to allow the center to stay three months rent-free at the site as long as it vacated the property by late November. The lease was set to expire in February.
“He is one of the most disreputable developers I have ever come across,” Stavisky said. “I don’t trust him.”
Huang has been negotiating a deal with Robert Frischman, president of JDF Realty, which is representing the Fresh Meadows Jewish Development, to purchase the property, Weprin said.
At last weekend’s rally outside the farm, Fresh Meadows community activists said they were concerned whether the new owners would attempt to create commercial or residential development at the site. But because the farm is located in the Fresh Meadows Special Planned Community Preservation District, any development plans would need to go through a rigorous approval process.
“I’ve notified them of the current limitations on the property,” Weprin said. “Klein Farm will not be chopped up by an unscrupulous developer.”
Plans for the property will go before Community Board 8, which Weprin said was overwhelmingly opposed to development at the site.
Under city zoning and preservation rules, any development at Klein Farm would require special permits for demolition, expansion or adding a new building to the property.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community News Group
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