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Huang ditches meeting with Bayside civic group

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Bayside civic leader Frank Skala was stood up by the notorious Tommy Huang Tuesday night after the Flushing developer skipped out of a planned meeting with the East Bayside Homeowners Association and sent his 24-year-old son instead.

Tommy Huang, who pleaded guilty in February 1999 to felony charges for defiling the landmarked RKO Keith’s theater in Flushing, was scheduled to be at the Bayside civic meeting at All Saints Church to discuss his plans for the property at 39-39 223rd St.

Huang, a resident of Forest Hills Gardens, told the TimesLedger last month he purchased the 223rd Street property for $1.2 million and was considering building up to three homes on it. The lot is 230 feet deep.

This week Huang’s son Henry, accompanied by architect John Carusone, told about 50 members of the East Bayside Homeowner’s Association that five houses and a small, private road are planned for the 223rd Street lot, pending approval by the city Buildings Department.

Skala said Huang never responded to his invitations and he had just heard prior to Tuesday’s meeting that the developer was sending a surrogate.

“I don’t like being stiffed,” said Skala, who said Huang had told City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) he would attend the meeting. Huang also told the TimesLedger he would be at Skala’s gathering.

When asked why his father did not attend the meeting with Skala, Henry Huang, who insisted his father was not afraid to show up, said “we heard that Frank Skala was going to lynch us.”

Rumors about what could be built on the property have been swirling for several weeks, with residents buzzing about the home’s $1 million-plus sales price and wondering if a church or more than one house could be constructed on the lot, which has some trees and slopes down in the rear to the Cross Island Parkway.

Henry Huang told the audience his father has been building high-end, one-family homes for 20 years and has won awards for several of them.

“We will not build any type of church at this property,” the younger Huang said as Skala grilled him on plans for the lot. “We will not ask for variances. There will not be two-family houses.”

Neighbors of the 223rd Street property, who have repeatedly said Tommy Huang went through the neighborhood telling residents different stories about his plans for the lot, questioned Henry Huang as to why his father would do that.

Henry Huang said: “I’m confused, I don’t know why.”

Tommy Huang pleaded guilty in February 1999 to a felony charge of endangering the public health, safety or environment by ignoring asbestos contamination in RKO Keith’s and spilling hundreds of gallons of fuel oil in the basement of the city landmark. He also admitted at the time to lying to state environmental officials about cleaning up the theater when he actually had not.

Huang was sentenced to five years’ probation, fined $5,000 and ordered to clean up the legendary RKO Keith’s, which was first opened in 1928. Earlier this year Huang pulled out of a contract to buy and develop Klein Farm in Fresh Meadows in face of strong opposition from residents who wanted the property preserved.

Henry Huang said his father’s involvement with the RKO Keith’s was not relevant to plans for 223rd Street.

“I don’t understand why it should have an impact on this,” Henry Huang said.

When asked if he thought his father was an honest man, Henry Huang said “this is a little personal, can we please stick to the subject?”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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