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Huang ends plans to buy Klein Farm

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Flushing developer Tommy Huang has pulled out of the contract to buy and develop the Klein Farm, leaving the property open for possible preservation, a member of an organization vying to purchase and preserve the century-old farm said this week.

Another developer has also expressed interest in the farm and willingness to reach a balance between housing construction and community concerns about preservation, City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) said.

Susan Clark of the Trust for Public Land confirmed reports that Huang in mid-March backed out of the deal to buy the 2.2-acre parcel and build 22 two-family homes.

The Trust for Public Land, a national group dedicated to securing land for open space, has contacted farm owner John Klein Sr. about buying the property, Clark said. But she said neither prices nor a contract have been established and that she could not provide information about discussions with Klein.

Klein declined to comment. Huang could not be reached for comment, but a secretary at Huang’s Flushing office said he gave up after facing too many problems in connection with the deal.

The farm on 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows was the last family-owned working farm in New York City and is under consideration for Landmark Preservation status. As such, community members, spearheaded by Weprin, had protested Huang’s plans to develop the historic site.

Weprin has been pushing for landmark designation of the farm, with hopes that the city will at the very least grant the elite designation to the farm’s two-story brick house, built in 1930. A landmark designation would prohibit destruction or alteration of the building.

In the meantime, Weprin said he has been contacted by the attorney for a developer who is looking at the property and “wants to do something acceptable to the community.” If the developer decides to purchase the farm, meetings would be held with community members to discuss development plans, Weprin was told. He said plans could include garden apartments or a donation of the portion of the land to the Trust for Public Land.

Weprin said he was still hoping for total, public preservation rather than development, but such a deal might be acceptable down the road.

“Clearly an attractive development for the community is preferable to having the property vacant and not well-maintained,” Weprin said.

Reach reporter Patricia Demchak by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or by calling 229-0300, Ext. 155

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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