(11/13/2006) The Juniper Park Civic Association is demanding that the NYC Department of Buildings issues no further building permits to the owner of the property at 57-39 Mazeau Street in Maspeth, Queens, and that an investigation is opened into his activities.

The owner, Tommy Huang, is a notorious convicted felon who destroyed the interior of the landmark RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing in 1987.

In 1986, Mr. Huang purchased the RKO Keith’s Theater with the intention of erecting a mega mall in its place. After community outrage put a damper on that plan, he allowed the theater to sit neglected and the interior became damaged by rainwater entering through gaping holes in the roof.

The NYS Attorney General indicted Huang on a series of felony charges in 1997. The State found that Huang had “knowingly permitted hundreds of gallons of heating oil to spill into the basement of the theater in July 1996,” and also allowed the improper removal of asbestos from the theater. Huang then copped a plea, and agreed to plead guilty to two of the charges. He was fined $5,000, ordered to clean up the mess he caused, and placed on 5 years probation instead of serving jail time. Huang never cleaned up the theater and was released from probation after only serving 14 months. (Who does he know?)

“The man is a convicted criminal who deserves to be in jail,” said Jerry Rotondi, Chair of the Committee to Save the RKO Keith’s Theater, Inc. “In my opinion, if murdering a unique piece of architectural history were considered a capital crime, then he would deserve the ultimate sentence – in this case, a very slow-burning electric chair.”

Now this unscrupulous developer has invaded the Maspeth community.

On Mazeau Street, he demolished a garage without a permit. He was allowed to simply apply for and receive a demolition permit after the fact. He has obtained permits to subdivide the lot, for a construction fence, and for a new 3-story building. Completely disregarding the zoning code, he attempted to build a 4-story structure in an area zoned R-4. The property has had a stop-work order on it since November 1st, 2006 for this violation.

“As soon as I saw his name on the building department’s website, I knew who it was,” said Christina Wilkinson, Chair of the JPCA’s Committee to Save St. Saviour’s Church. “Preservationists are well aware of his history. He has a 25-year record of destroying Queens architecture and replacing it with cheaply constructed ‘Fedders’ houses.” Mr. Huang, under the name of Audrey Realty, currently owns the landmark Klein Farm in Fresh Meadows and also has plans to develop that site.

Buildings Department records show that Mr. Huang’s office is at 36-09 Main Street in Flushing and his phone number is (718) 353-8989. His son, Henry Huang, is president of the corporation and his other son, John Huang, is the vice president.

Update, November 15th, 2006:

Councilman Dennis Gallagher distributed a letter at his MVMCA meeting the evening of Tuesday, November 14th. With regards to this issue, the letter stated: “We recently were alerted that at 57-71 Mazu Street, the developer has already been fined by the Department of Buildings (DOB) for work without a permit. DOB is monitoring their plans per our request. This coming Thursday, the DOB will perform an onsite inspection to ensure the plans will be up to par. We will be vigilant that this developer will follow all the rules and regulations. And, if they do not, they will be appropriately summonsed.”

Mr. Gallagher not only got the house number of this property wrong, but we would also like him to show us where “Mazu Street” is on a map of Maspeth. The councilman was alerted to this issue by our press release and a call from a local newspaper reporter asking him for his opinion about the situation. It was JPCA who shut this developer down, JPCA who investigated his past and found his link to the destruction of Flushing's RKO Keith's Theater and JPCA who put DOB on notice that they should not issue future building permits to him or allow him to use self-certification. Using kid gloves to say you want the developer to “follow the rules and regulations” or be “appropriately summonsed” is not good enough. Mr. Huang, for more than a quarter of a century, has broken a myriad of DOB rules and regulations and state laws. He needs to be shut down permanently and this illegal building must be torn down. Either Councilman Gallagher and DOB are serious about cracking down on repeated violators, or they choose to continue to act as accomplices in the destruction of Maspeth, Middle Village and the rest of Queens county.

Update: November 20th, 2006
On November 15th, 2006, a special Department of Buildings (DOB) audit was conducted on the Mazeau Street property. DOB found 23 objections to property.
The Juniper Park Civic Association is calling on the Mayor's Office, the Queens District Attorney¹s Office, the Department of Buildings and the Department of City Planning to work together to make sure that Thomas Huang,
his sons and assignees do not do any more harm to the neighborhoods in the City of New York. On Monday, November 20th, The Juniper Park Civic Association met with representatives from the Department of Buildings to discuss the situation. They informed President Holden that this developer has a history of simply leaving structures half-built rather than conform to the zoning and building codes.

JPCA continues our call to have this building torn down.