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A crowd gathered in front of a century-old Douglaston Hill home Monday to send a message to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission: Stop the destruction.
Braving the frigid cold, several dozen people stood in front of a 1901 Queen Anne home at 240-35 43rd Ave. that was in the process of being sold late last year sparking fears in the quaintly preserved community of early 20th-century houses that it would be demolished by a developer and replaced with several new buildings.
Local preservationists were dealt a blow last fall with news from Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) that the Landmarks Preservation Commission was refusing to move ahead on an application to landmark Douglaston Hill because it did not meet the criteria.
But Avella and local civic leaders vowed to fight.
This is the cornerstone of what was to be the Douglaston Hill Historic District, Avella said of the house that had been up for sale. We need to stop this house from being demolished.
We want our application calendared, said Bill Sievers, vice president of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society.
Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Robert Tierney did tell Mr. Avella that (the neighborhood) doesnt measure up, said Sievers, who was scheduled to meet with Tierney on Wednesday.
We want to show him that it does measure up.
Diane Jackier, a spokeswoman for the agency, said, The Landmarks Commission looks at requests for historic districts from all areas of New York City. We made a tentative decision to not designate Douglaston Hill at this time, but we are willing to look at additional information.
The lot at 240-35 43rd Ave, which measures 100-by-250 feet, is large enough to be subdivided legally into four lots. No one answered the door at the house Monday.
A listing agent from Dae Ji Realty said only The sale is dead before hanging up on a reporter Monday. But the selling agent at ReMax Universal Real Estate in Bayside said it was still in contract.
I know hes going to renovate, said agent Su Yi of the buyer, adding that he had been seeking a house with a large backyard to put in a swimming pool for his children. I dont know if hes going to demolish or not.
The buyer was looking for a house for himself, she said. If the community doesnt want him to renovate the house maybe the community should buy the property.
Unless Douglaston Hill is landmarked, structures like the one behind us will slowly disappear, Sievers told the crowd of several dozen people some carrying signs that said Stop the Destruction and Vultures Go Home.
The Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society first proposed in 1989 that the neighborhood of century-old homes between Northern Boulevard, the Long Island Rail Road, Douglaston Parkway and part of 244th Street be protected as an historic district.
The neighborhood, which is filled with homes developed in the early 20th century after construction of the East River railroad tunnel made commuting to Manhattan feasible, contains examples of Colonial Revival, American Foursquare, Tudor and Queen Anne architectural styles.
The area was placed on the state and national Registers of Historic Places in the summer of 2000. But unlike a city landmark designation, those distinctions do not prevent buildings from being demolished, said urban preservationist Paul Graziano, who in a zoning study of Avellas district recommended that Douglaston Hill be landmarked in addition to several other areas.
Graziano pointed out that Queens only has five landmarked districts out of about 80 citywide.
Theres something wrong here. Theres an imbalance, he said.
Decrying what he called the Manhattan elitism of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Avella said, This community qualifies just as well as any community in Manhattan.
The councilman, along with Douglaston Civic Association President Eliott Socci, encouraged people to bombard the mayor with letters of support for Douglaston Hill. Avella noted that Mayor Michael Bloomberg received 72 percent of the vote in Avellas district in 2001.
You have to make him remember that, he said.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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