CB 11 blocks Huang development

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

In a unanimous vote, Community Board 11 came out against allowing a controversial developer to finish four homes under construction in Bayside.

At its Nov. 5meeting, the board voted not to grant a variance to Tommy Huang, making it more difficult for him to complete properties under construction at 39-39 223rd St. and 39-01, 39-15 and 39-19 Mia Drive near the Cross Island Parkway in Bayside.

In the board’s unanimous vote, members cited the developer’s lengthy track record of complaints and violations, which dated as far back as 2004 and stemmed from accusations of unsafe working conditions, according to the city Department of Buildings.

Huang did not return calls seeking comment.

The community board’s East Flushing/North Bayside Committee, chaired by Christine Haider, advised against approving the variance, citing violations at the property. According to the DOB, the property at 39-39 223rd St., which includes a 22,859-square-foot zoning lot in Bayside, has received 93 complaints and 46 different violations to date.

The variance still must go through both Borough President Helen Marshall’s office and the city Board of Standards and Appeals, but will do so with a recommendation from CB 11 not to approve it, District Manager Susan Seinfeld said.

Huang has long been considered a notorious developer in the borough after he was convicted in 1999 of causing an oil spill in the basement of the landmarked RKO Keith’s Theatre in Flushing, which he bought in 1986.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has been one of several community leaders who have spoken out against Huang’s projects in the borough and said the developer has become infamous for consistently violating building and zoning codes.

The senator held a news conference earlier this year calling on the DOB to think twice before issuing any more building permits to Huang.

“Mr. Huang is a poster child for developers who engage in unscrupulous building practices on a repeated basis,” Avella said. “Mr. Huang’s unsafe construction practices date back almost 20 years and his projects continue to receive numerous violations for ‘work contrary to approved plans,’ ‘work without a permit,’ ‘failure to maintain the property,’ among many others which often have resulted in destruction of adjoining properties and danger to public safety.”

Based on Huang’s initial variance application, the Bayside properties were built in accordance with a stipulation from the DOB that the development would be considered a through lot, which requires a road to be built on the other side. The community board’s unanimous vote rejected a variance that would have allowed the developer not to comply with backyard requirements typical for projects of that size.

The Buildings Department had later withdrawn its permits for the Huang houses after an earlier case found that a similar property was not found to be a through lot.

Now, Huang needs the variance that says he does not need to construct a yard in the rear of the property or else he must remove a portion of one of the four homes being built, CB 11 said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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