NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Queens residents are making sure their voices are heard in the fight to save a historic building.
They’re trying to keep a synagogue and other staples from being torn down in the community, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Thursday.READ MORE: MLB Owners Impose Lockout After CBA Expires
If you drive along Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, you can’t miss the iconic building, from the clock tower above the tower diner, to the marquee over the synagogue and all the businesses in between.
“It’s very prominent and impressive and it harbors so much history and our history bonds the generations,” said Michael Perlman, chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council.
Perlman, who grew up in Forest Hills, knows the history of the area.
“Ohr Natan Synagogue, it was formally the Trylon Theater, built at the time of the 1939 World’s Fair in the Art Deco style. It was a crown jewel,” Perlman said.
He’s among more than 3,500 people who signed a petition to save the building from demolition.
The developer, RJ Capital Holdings, didn’t return CBS2’s request for comment, but a representative presented plans at a community board meeting to build a 15-story building with around 150 apartments, some affordable and commercial, adding space for a synagogue.
“The building that we’re asking for, I think, fits squarely within the character and it’s gonna provide union jobs and it’s gonna provide affordable housing,” Eric Palatnik said.READ MORE: Federal Hearing Focused On Conditions At Rikers Island
Residents voiced concerns in the meeting, from traffic to overdevelopment.
“The issue is, is that we don’t need more high-rise buildings to go up in this neighborhood,” community member Phyllis Zimmerman said.
“Why destroy our history? It is the character of the neighborhood,” Dorothy Kaldi added.
DeAngelis spoke to several business owners, including at a diner and a bike shop, which have plans to relocate within the community.
“The biggest challenge is relocating in such a short period of time, finding a location and also the rent, but we managed,” said Jimmy Yeh of Spin City Cycle.
Alexa Weitzman, chair of the community board, explained the building was not deemed historic through the city’s landmarking process, so it’s fair game for the developer, but it must be approved by the city for zoning changes.
“The power that we have as a community board, number one, is to make sure all of our community members’ voices are heard, whether they are board members or not, and also to really have that relationship of the back and forth with the developers so they do hear those concerns and can make changes along the way,” Weitzman said.
With more public hearings to come, community members said they aren’t giving up on their fight to keep history in place.MORE NEWS: First U.S. Case Of Omicron Variant Detected In California
After the community board, the plan has to make its way through several steps to get to the City Council, including the Queens borough president, who plans to hold a public hearing Dec. 2.