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Six months after blaze Rego Park vet fights to reopen

Veterinarian Stephen Wyler shows the downstairs floor of Trylon Vet Care, which had water and smoke damage during a fire six months ago and has yet to reopen. Behind Wyler, the wall is covered in mildew. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

A Rego Park veterinarian would love to reopen his Queens Boulevard business after a fire damaged it six months ago, but he is stuck in lease limbo.

A four-alarm blaze caused extensive damage to Trylon Vet Care, at 98-83 Queens Blvd., along with several other businesses on the block in late May. Some of those businesses, such as Tower Diner, suffered minimal damage and opened weeks later. Others, like the convenience store where the fire began on the corner of 66th Road and 99th Street, have been boarded up and hung with “For Rent” signs.

But the clinic, run by Dr. Stephen Wyler, is neither open nor closed since the landlord of the building will not commit to renewing Wyler’s lease, which is set to expire this spring.

“We’re anxious to get started,” Wyler said. “I have absolutely no intention of retiring. My whole staff is still with me.”

But they have not worked in six months. Wyler is waiting to see if the landlord, Samson Management Group, will grant him a new lease, adding that the landlord might consider selling part of the damaged block.

“They’re undecided,” Wyler said. “[Samson Management] is going through a major problem, and we’re caught in between.”

If the landlord decides to renew the lease, then Wyler will renovate his 20-year-old business and go back to work. But if not, he will be forced to move to a new location.

And that is a move he is not looking forward to.

Samson Management did not respond to repeated phone calls for comment.

“It’s going to be a significant financial burden to build a new facility,” Wyler said.

Since Trylon Vet Care has been in the same location for 20 years, it has been paying less in rent than newer businesses.

“We were on an old lease, so it was like we were in a rent-controlled building,” he said.

The other problems that Wyler faces concern the building itself. He is not likely to find an existing facility in the neighborhood that contains the infrastructure he needs for surgery rooms. It also could be difficult to find a space zoned for an animal clinic since Wyler said the regulations are more stringent than when he first opened in the early 1990s.

Lastly, if Wyler moves too far away, he will lose his customer base.

Wyler has been scouring the city for a new location for months. He has not found anything yet, but it will not deter him from getting his business back on track in the future.

Despite his problems as a tenant, Wyler said he understands Samson Management’s predicament and does not hold any grudges.

“We appreciate what they’re going through,” Wyler said. “We’ve had a good relationship for 20 years, and I understand that business is business.”

He added that the clinic has a loyal customer base, all of whom are anxious to see Wyler’s situation resolved quickly.

“We still have clients,” he said. “We get messages all day long asking if we’ve found a good location.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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