Klein farm sold to tree cutters

By Alex Robinson

Fresh Meadows’ Klein Farm has been sold to tenants who recently accepted responsibility for illegally cutting down trees on the historic property.

Ziming Shen’s Fresh Meadows Children’s Farm LLC bought the farm, at 194-15 73rd Ave., last week for $5.6 million from Audrey Realty Corp., a firm headed by Henry Huang, son of notorious developer Thomas Huang.

Shen was hit with $1,600 in fines by the city after his daycare center, Preschool for America, which leased the farm, altered the driveway and cut down trees without the necessary permits.

The farm sits in the Fresh Meadows Special Planned Community Preservation District, meaning any significant changes to the property have to be approved by the City Planning Commission.

Outraged neighbors and community leaders first noticed the trees being cut down last fall and reported the arborcide to the city Department of Buildings.

The property was the borough’s last family-owned, working farm before the Huangs bought it in 2003 for $4.3 million. They then unsuccessfully tried to develop the farm into 22 two-family homes.

Neither Huang nor Shen returned requests for comment.

In June 2013, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman banned Henry Huang along with his mother, Alice, and father, Thomas, from selling real estate securities.

Huang received a lifetime ban from selling condos and co-ops for filing false documents that hid the fact his parents had committed felony securities fraud in the development and sale of condos at a building in Elmhurst, according to Schneiderman’s office.

Huang’s parents had already been banned from developing and selling real estate in 1999 for failing to pay operating costs for buildings they owned and rented out.

His father was also found guilty of damaging the landmarked RKO Theatre in Flushing in 1999. The developer pleaded guilty to spilling hundreds of gallons of oil in the theater’s basement and for ignoring asbestos contamination in the building. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Shen has had his fair share of trouble with the law as well. In April 2012, he and his wife were convicted of embezzling more than $3 million in federal funds meant for children’s lunches at the couple’s Red Apple Child Development Center chain, which operates around the city, according to court documents filed by the U.S. attorney.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.