A case that will determine whether a day care center on Klein Farm in Fresh Meadows will be able to remain on the property despite eviction orders from controversial landlord Tommy Huang was adjourned to Sept. 10, according to the day care owner’s attorney.
Yi Lin, who represents Li Chen, owner of Apple Tree Day Care on the two-acre Klein Farm, said his client will not vacate the property on 73rd Avenue until her landlord, Audrey Realty, provides proof the land has been sold. The case, which went to Queens Civil Court last week, could eventually go to trial, Lin said.
Flushing-based Audrey Realty is owned by notorious developer Huang, who angered Fresh Meadows community leaders in 2004 with plans to build 18 to 22 two-story homes.
Huang became especially known throughout Queens after he was convicted in 1999 of letting hundreds of gallons of heating oil leak into the ground at RKO Keith’s Theatre in Flushing.
Chen was given an eviction notice April 1 and told to leave the property by June 30, but her lawyer said she signed a two-year lease in March 2008 that stipulates Chen may only be forced to leave if the land is sold. Lin said Audrey Realty has yet to present documentation that the land has been sold to Chen, whose day care has about 35 children. The city also has no record of the property’s sale.
“Since there is no disclosure of a sale, the tenant rightfully did not move,” Lin said.
According to Lin, Audrey Realty did tell Chen that a synagogue had bought the property for $5.6 million.
An attorney for Audrey Realty did not return a phone call for comment.
Community members have long been concerned about development plans for the property, which was the last privately owned farm in the city until 2003, when Huang purchased it for $4.3 million. The farm was run by the Klein family from the 1890s until 2003.
“The day care center has been a very good neighbor, and they don’t deserve to be evicted,” said state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), whose district includes the farm. “What happens to that property? The landlord has been thwarted on trying to develop the property and put something completely out of character with the neighborhood.”
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) also lamented the possible loss of the center and property sale.
“Any time a community loses a neighborhood day care center, it’s a real shame because there’s a very great need for it,” Lancman said. “People have a strong attachment to the Klein Farm, and they’d hate to see it turned into another housing development.”
James Trent, president of the Queens County Farm Museum, said the museum would be willing to operate the farm should the city purchase the land for them.
“We think we could grow vegetables there and re-establish that site as an agrarian operation that would benefit the community,” Trent said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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