Richmond Hill GOP Club goes on auction block

By Alex Davidson

John Chilson, managing director of JER Revenue Services, said Faizulmunir Kazi was refunded the funds he put down at auction in September 2002 to purchase the Republican Club that sits on Lefferts Boulevard across from the Richmond Hill Library. Chilson said it now is as if the first auction had never taken place.

“There are a number of parties who want to see permanent ownership,” Chilson said from his North Haven, Conn. office.

Last January, an unknown party filed an order to show cause that questioned the legality of the September auction and put forth whether Kazi was the true owner of the Republican Club building. Chilson said the person who filed the order has been identified as attorney Joseph Kasper.

Kasper did not return calls for comment. His order, however, bought time for people opposed to Kazi's plans to tear down the building and put up a retail development.

It took more than a year for Kasper and JER Revenue Services to come together, discuss the order to show cause and come to a resolution about the fate of the Republican Club building. The deal, forged during a hearing held the first week in February, included Kasper's voluntary withdrawal of his order to show cause, Chilson said.

Nancy Cataldi, president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society who attended the hearing on the Republican Club, said the judge ordered a quick resolution to ensure the building does not fall into disrepair.

Cataldi said the building has suffered because of the long time it took the interested parties to come to a legal resolution. She said the city Landmarks Preservation Commission has now become more involved because the building has been singled out for its historical significance.

“You cannot let a landmark deteriorate to the point where it will collapse,” Cataldi said. “We are just outsiders. We are just trying to save the building.”

During a public hearing Dec. 17, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to make the 1908 building a landmark, preserving it from demolition or alteration. The property will stay a city landmark regardless of who is the owner, according to city law.

Cataldi said she showed city officials and Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Glendale) the state of the Republican Club building, including its roof, which is close to collapsing. She said she and others are in talks to find interested parties who could potentially front money to transform the building into a multi-use community center.

The city sold a tax lien to JER Revenue Service on the Republican Club property after club members had accumulated more than $330,000 in back taxes, Chilson had said in an earlier interview.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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