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Huang begins construction of 4 houses on Bayside lot

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A bulldozer, a truck and drawings of four houses were spotted on the 223rd Street lot in Bayside owned by Flushing developer Thomas Huang, signaling a start to controversial construction on the property.

Huang, who was convicted in 1999 of spilling fuel oil and ignoring asbestos contamination in the basement of the RKO Keith’s theater in Flushing, subdivided the property at 39-39 223rd St. into four lots in November.

As of last week the Buildings Department had approved Huang’s plan to put one 4,093-square-foot house on the lot, but Buildings Department spokeswoman Ilyse Fink said the agency was awaiting Fire Department approval on another three houses.

The property contained one house when Huang demolished it in late 2002.

“They just don’t give a damn,” said East Bayside Homeowners Association President Frank Skala of the Buildings Department.

The construction of four houses on the lot will “put up more houses for sale to be torn down,” said Skala, given the sky-high property values in the area.

Neither Huang nor Angelo Costa, the buildings’ architect, could be reached for comment.

Drawings posted on the lot’s fence showed four houses with pointed roofs, columned entrances, brick first floors and beige-painted second floors.

A bulldozer and truck were seen on the property Tuesday morning. The lot’s surface, which once contained piles of dirt, had been leveled.

Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said the Fire Department already had granted Huang approval for a 20-foot-wide access road on the lot for emergency vehicles.

“My problem is that he can get this road at all,” said Avella. The developer was allowed to put in the road because he agreed to put sprinklers in every room in every house and put a fire hydrant at the end of the road, the councilman said.

Had the access road needed to be wider, Huang would not have been able to put as many houses on the lot, said Avella.

The Fire Department referred questions about the plans to the Department of City Planning.

City Planning Department spokeswoman Rachaele Raynoff said “it’s up to Buildings and Fire to determine adequacy of access and I believe they are already working on that.”

A developer thought to be a relative of Huang’s purchased the site of the former Klein Farm in Fresh Meadows in November. The move outraged residents who opposed a previous bid by Huang to put 22 homes on the 2.2-acre property.

The current owner, John Huang, is in talks to sell the 2.2-acre property to a Westchester builder.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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