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Lack of plan for building irks neighbors

TimesLedger Newspapers

Community members are growing concerned about a builder’s amorphous plans for what they describe as a historic property in downtown Flushing.

Chon Property Corp. of Flushing bought the so-called Millenium office building, at 137-72 Northern Blvd., for $2.6 million in 2003, according to city records, but the building, which the city estimates was built in 1930, sits empty today, despite its prime location at Northern’s intersection with busy Union Street.

There were three open complaints, four open city Department of Buildings violations, seven open Environmental Control Board violations and an open partial stop-work order against the commercially zoned, 11,613-square-foot building as of Tuesday.

Chon Property Corp. is perhaps best known as the operator of the Spa Castle spa facility, at 131-10 11th Ave. in College Point, but its president and secretary, Steve Chon, did not return repeated telephone messages left with a receptionist at the company’s headquarters, at 163-32 Northern Blvd., Suite No. 2R.

Sunny Hahn, a Flushing community activist and senior adviser to the Korean-American Association of Queens, said she is worried that the building will be overdeveloped and negatively affect the flourishing Korean-American business on Union Street.

“This building is very important. It needs to be landmarked. The building was purchased by the owner of Spa Castle and he doesn’t have any respect for heritage of the community. He bought it and I hear he wants to build a hotel on top of the existing building,” she said. “Flushing is going to be flushed, and I am so angry I can’t sleep.”

One complaint issued Oct. 3 against the building alleges that there is an “illegal conversion from commercial to multi-use residential being developed and constructed” there, DOB records showed. A city inspector was sent to the site Oct. 5, but was unable to gain access, according to the records.

Community Board 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian said residential is an allowable use for a building that is zoned C4-3, as this one is, a fact that suggests the complaint may be unfounded. Apelian said he does not have information regarding what is being built there.

Another complaint issued Oct. 3 alleged that work was proceeding at the site in violation of a stop-work order, the records showed.

The four DOB violations each allege compliance issues, stating that “work does not conform to approved construction documents,” and on Aug. 23 a $1,000 fine was levied against Chon, and $3,000 in fines were levied against the contractor, Trend 21 Design.

The seven open ECB violations each alleged compliance issues and are accompanied by thousands of dollars in fines against Trend 21.

At least two partial stop-work orders have been issued against the property, which sits on a 5,100-square-foot lot, in the past year. The first, issued in May, was partially rescinded Aug. 16 in order allow housekeeping and safety work there, according to an order posted in the window of the building, and was then fully rescinded Aug. 22.

A second partial stop-work order was issued after a Sept. 22 inspection initiated by the city Department of Buildings in response to a complaint that an adjoining building’s roof is “not protected,” according to DOB records. On Sept. 23, the order was partially rescinded to allow scaffolding to be erected in front of the building. The entire front of the building was still lined by one-story-tall scaffolding Tuesday morning.

Postings in the window of the building state that the contractor slated to do work there is Trend 21, whose principal is listed as Soo Chon. Trend 21’s address and telephone number as listed on one of the postings are the same as those of Chon Property Corp.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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