Sept. 7, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A Jewish funeral home in Rego Park is going to be bulldozed to make way for a multi-story apartment building.
GVA Capital LLC, a New York development company, filed plans with the Department of Buildings last month to demolish the Parkside Memorial Chapels, located at 98-60 Queens Blvd.
The demolition of the 60-year-old structure will make way for a seven story, 51-unit complex, according to building plans first reported by Crain’s.
GVA Capital bought the site in July for $10.95 million from PMC Owners Corp., the company that had operated the funeral home. Parkside vacated the building last year and moved its operation to 114-03 Queens Blvd. It now operates under the Dignity Memorial network.
The developers had initially planned to construct a high-rise affordable housing complex dedicated for seniors on the site, Council Member Karen Koslowitz told the Queens Post.
Koslowitz said the development company initially sought a zoning variance for the project, where it would receive extra square footage in return for building the affordable housing. However, the application was rejected by the City Planning Commission (CPC), she said.
The developer is now proceeding with an “as of right” development at the site, according to Koslowitz.
“With the City Planning rejection, I am assuming that the 100 percent affordable housing plan is off the table,” Koslowitz said.
The upcoming demolition will end a campaign by a small group of residents who aim to preserve the existing structure.
The residents say that the building is of historical significance and launched an online petition earlier this year to stop the structure from being levelled.
“This is a rare example of mid-century Modernism and is one of the most significant examples of architecture of its kind locally,” said Michael Perlman, chair of the Rego Park-Forest Hills Preservation Council.
Parkside Memorial Chapels was constructed in 1961 and is known for its exterior star-patterned walls – shaped like the Star of David – which represented the sand of the Sinai Desert, according to Perlman.
There are also concrete screens between the walls with Star of David-shaped holes.
A filing was made on Nov. 9 for a partial demolition of the building to tear down the “decorative masonry walls” on the first two floors, as well as the removal of structural steel supports and canopies.
Perlman said that some demolition work occurred in March where part of the exterior wall on Queens Boulevard was torn down. He said that the remaining Star of David-shaped holes on the building was filled in.
He said the group called on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to declare Parkside a landmark, but the request was denied.