How Did This Happen?

July 8, 2008 at 8:32 am 6 comments

Part of the community-wide negative feelings about the Bukharian McMansions is a sense of “How did this happen?”

I’ve read a few comments on this blog and others that lament, “We didn’t come together as a community when it first started”—and here, I’m referring to the size of the houses and massive paving over of lawns, not the look of the houses themselves, since that is indeed a question of taste. Is this just about people not pushing hard enough for zoning law amendments?

I can’t help but think back to 2004-2006 when, incomprehensibly, the Trylon, an art-deco treasure of a movie theater at 98-81 Queen Blvd., was “sacrificed” to the Bukharian community to be made into an education/community center (a misnomer since only one community uses it). Cinema Treasures had a message forum devoted to the topic, and the details of what was happening then, including who was saying no to the outcry of MANY Forest Hills and Rego Park residents, are all there. Amid that fray, Michael Perlman, who was at the forefront of the fight to save the Trylon, wrote a piece about this on the Juniper Park Civic Association’s Web site. I’ve excerpted parts of it below, but this too is a must-read for understanding why things have gone this far, not just at the Trylon but in Forest Hills as a whole.

The Committee To Save The Trylon Theater was organized in summer 2005 by Chairman Michael Perlman, in response to the jackhammering of its noteworthy ticket booth. Preservation groups, including the Historic Districts Council, Modern Architecture Working Group, Art Deco Society of NY, and Landmarks Conservancy, amongst others, have attempted to gain landmark status for the Trylon Theater since 2003-2004, but to no avail. They have been locked out by Councilwoman Melinda Katz of District 29. Numerous borough-wide preservationists, historical societies, civic and community groups, and concerned local residents, have since joined this cause. Our mission is to encourage landmark status, a restoration to its original splendor, and adaptive re-use. It is commendable that the building will be reused by the Educational Center for Russian Jewry, but what need is there to destroy the Trylon’s highly significant features?

Chairman Robert Tierney of the Landmarks Preservation Commission had intentions of granting a hearing for the Trylon Theater as early as 2003. However, Councilwoman Katz’s inactivity and opposition to its possible landmarking, prolonged Mr. Tierney’s decision to grant it a hearing, since the LPC is hesitant to act without sufficient political support. As a committee, we have organized a petition drive presently up to 1,600 signatures, 2 letter campaigns to Councilwoman Melinda Katz & Chairman Tierney, sponsored preservation gatherings, and held a rally in October 2005. Our effort has been complemented by a tremendous amount of press coverage. Even without the ticket booth in place, the remaining exterior features are distinctive enough to merit landmark status…

Faith in Councilwoman Katz has diminished as a result of her landmark-related contradictions and behavior. Her campaign finance contributions read as a journal which indicates how heavily-funded she is by the developers. With overdevelopment throughout Queens as a result of such developer-friendly politicians, greedy developers, a change in demographics, and reluctance by the LPC to dedicate an equal amount of time to Queens, there is uncertainty that potential landmarks such as the Trylon Theater will be standing in years to come.


Entry filed under: Forest Hills.

In Honor of Satchmo’s Birthday Outdoor Film 2008

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Who is going to pay for the restoration of this building? I hope you aren’t suggesting using taxpayers money. At a time when more money is needed for education, taking care of the elderly and fixing our broken infrastructure – are tax money is very tight.

  • 2. karbeth  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    The Trylon isn’t going to be restored. It’s too late for this one. The point of the post is not about spending money but about politicians who turn a blind eye to reckless development because it lines their pockets (election campaigns).

    Tax money is tight, and ultimately, these houses aren’t the battle we need to be fighting right now. Except as it affects the environment. Some online commenters have pointed out how the paved-over yards contribute to run-off. Queens’ flooding problems are no small issue, and they do affect our broken infrastructure and make it harder on the elderly.

  • 3. A concerned resident  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I work in Forest hills and pass these monstrosities everyday. Still I wonder where the money comes from to build such McMansions. Over 200 families moving in..every week another gawdy home being constructed.

    Where are the feds and why hasnt the residents started a petition to have the money situation looked into? Italians would be in jail and have feds outside their homes watching their every move. Why not these people?

    I spoke with a local mailman who delivers mail in the neighborhood. He claimed many of them receive welfare checks. My mother even came across one of these Bukharian immigrants in Met food flaunting a fur coat & diamond necklace while purchasing food with food stamps.

    I think the residents of Forest hills need to come together and write to Congress, Government officials and others and find out where this money is coming from. Let’s figure out why our hard earned tax dollars are paying for them to eat when us hardworking americans can barely pay our rent.

    WAKE UP F.H. RESIDENTS!! Save the neighborhood before they run you out of your homes as well.

  • 4. Anonymous  |  July 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    There is no need to be upset just because these immigrants have accomplished more in 20 years than you have in generations of living here. Bukharians are a hard-working people, several of them work 7 days a week in small businesses. While you are busy paying your credit bills with other credit cards, these people are saving up. They do not go out to eat for lunch everyday nor do they visit the theatres or other forms of entertainment on a regular basis. Along with that, the children live with the family unti lthey marry, allowing them to save up before they are on their own. That is their secret: good financial sense. I am tired of all this jealousy and racism and false accusations. If anything they have improved the area, seeing as Forest Hills real estate has soared in the past 15 years and has even not been too badly effected during these bad economic times. Stop being jealous and complaining and learn from them

  • 5. Mogul  |  September 18, 2008 at 9:42 am

    The truth is that the Bukharians are a shrewd group of people that have learned to “work” the system for their benefit. They are rude, nasty, and full of fight. They walk in front of a line, bypassing all the others, as they want to be first to be served. They wear furns, leather coats, leather boots, expensive jewelry and diamonds, drive the most expensive new foreign cars: e.g., BMW, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, and when it comes time to pay a food bill, they pull out a Benefits Card. Their food is free, their medical and drugs bills are paid for, and they receive $1,000 a month for their rent. That’s why they live in the finest buildings in Rego Park and Forest Hills. The landlords were forced to provide housing for them and discriminated against Americans attempting to rent in these doormen buildings with terraces. Everything was prepared for the Bukharians, aided and abetted by bleeding heart liberals like “sell-out” Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Assemblyman Daniel Hevesi. It was Katz that contributed over $200K to them and helped them buy the Trylon theatre. They promised to preserve crucial areas, but ended up jackammering it into oblivion. The Bukharians go to their nightclubs on weekends, where they charge upwards of $57 a chair. When they marry, they do not get a marriage license; they get married before their Rabbi. Hence, there is no record of their marriage in city files. Therefore, both the husband and wife both have Benefit Cards. When the woman has a child, she registers under her maiden name, as a single parent, thereby getting benefits for the child or children, as they produce prodigiously. All this is at the expense of the taxpayers. They have totally ruined wonderful neighborhoods like Rego Park and Forest Hills. They buy attached row houses and the first thing to go up are walls, steel doors with bars on the windows. The lovely grass, trees, bushes and flowers, and any geen landscaping is torn up and cemented pavement covers what was once a lovely landscaped garden that added curb appeal to the house. Now the house resembles a bleak, cold prison. Rego Park is completed destroyed and they have gone to work on Forest Hills. There is no justice. Justice is blind.

  • 6. truedat  |  February 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    the above poster is right. these people have no respect for history or their neighbors. might makes right, and so does paying off the police department and the DOB.


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