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Tower Diner and Synagogue in Danger of Being Demolished, Developer Files Rezoning Application for 16-Story Building

The proposed development would involve demolishing a block of buildings including the Tower Diner and Ohr Natan Synagogue (Google)

Aug. 25, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A development company has filed a land use application to construct a 16-story mixed-use building on a large triangular lot in Rego Park that includes a synagogue and the Tower Diner.

RJ Capital Holdings, under the name Trylon LLC, filed the application in June for the triangular plot at 98-81 Queens Blvd., where Ohr Natan Synagogue and several businesses sit.

The proposed development would feature 170 apartments and 118,000 square feet of commercial space. Fifty-one of the apartment units would be “affordable” pursuant to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement.

The developer is waiting on the Dept. of City Planning to certify the project in order for the public review process to take place.

A number of buildings will need to be demolished to make way for the new structure–including the Ohr Natan Synagogue, a place of worship for many members of Bukharian community. The Tower Diner and the Spin City Cycle bike store are among the businesses that occupy space that will be bulldozed.

The triangular plot of land RJ Capital Holdings hopes to develop (Google Maps)

The synagogue occupies the building that once was the historic Art Deco-styled Trylon Theater, which opened in 1939 and closed in 1999. It serves a congregation of roughly 1,000 members, mostly residents of Rego Park and Forest Hills.

The leaders of the synagogue and the development company have been at odds with each other for years.

The dispute began in 2013 when RJ Capital Holdings originally considered developing the lot after purchasing the property at the end of 2012 for $9 million.

The developer Rudolf Abramov, of RJ Capital Holdings, and Rabbi Nahum Kaziev, of Ohr Natan Synagogue, traded harsh words in court and in news reports over the building plans and rent payments.

Trylon Rendering of the proposed development

However, Abramov said he and Kaziev have put the past behind them and are in communications about finding a home for the synagogue in the new building.

“We worked everything out and we are on the same page,” Abramov said. “I did speak to the rabbi because I want him to come back so we’re communicating right now and we’re figuring out how much space he needs and how to work it out logistically.”

The Queens Post was unable to get comment from Kaziev or representatives from the synagogue.

Abramov said he will be reaching out to the other commercial tenants in the triangular property to see which businesses would like to move into the new building.

He said the development is in the very early stages, but he hopes to break ground in mid-2022.

The construction timeline is dependent on when the public review process (ULURP) can begin and how the process unfolds.

The ULURP process typically takes seven months after the plans are certified by City Planning. The plans–as required by ULURP– will need to be reviewed by Community Board 6 and the Queens Borough President, and then be approved by the City Planning Commission and City Council.

The general manager of Tower Diner, who goes by the name Bill K, said he wasn’t aware of RJ Capital Holding’s application.

The manager said that there’s been rumors for years that the developer would knock down the buildings. He said that he had not heard about the recent rezoning application.

Ohr Natan Synagogue, at 98-81 Queens Blvd. (Google Maps)

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7 Comments

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Stephanie Taylor & Sylvia Bloomfield

Our family have been residents of the Rego Park/Forest Hills area for more than 35 years. My mother grew up here as well as myself and siblings. My son is the new generation to grow up here. Tower Diner is a STAPLE in our area. The service is familiar and kind, the food is yummy, and their iced coffee is to die for. Our elderly community rely on Tower Diner for their meals and the local hospital community frequents there for their food breaks as well. To tear down local and historical businesses to replace it with a standard housing complex is disgraceful. This cannot happen, and as a community, we need to come together and fight to have these plans halted and better yet, canceled! If you are reading this comment, please contact our local councilman, even call up Tower Diner to find out how to prevent this from happening. This smells like greed, stinks of it.

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D.Negri

More Apartment Houses!!! There is no more GREEN in Forest Hills. It is terrible to see this… It was a nice area Trees, Green, People talkin to each Other and Kids Playing outdoors. I have been in F0rest Hill almost 46 years. I originally was from Corona moved to Flushing and then back to Forest Hills. Living in the Forest Hills Coop was nice, Kids had a place to play, we had a place to sit and watch them grow into adults. Now there are Building going up around us. The sun is gone, all that is seen are buildings, they are not finished as of yet..Not a very pretty sight anymore. Now they (whom ever) wants to Build another Apartment House, Yeah! Sure! AFFORDABLE!!! MY FOOT!! This next Venture is going to be on Queens Blvd, the Tower Dinner and where the Movies was, now its a synagogue the bicycle store, If your from Forest Hills you know where I am mentioning.. All I know is we are becoming just like Manhattan, CONCRECT!!

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gilbert

This is part of deBladio’s war on the middle class in our community. 2 years ago, it was one of the safest in the city. DeBlasio found that very troubling, and wants more low-income housing here, even tho there is no shortage of low-income housing in the city.

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Linda Sperling

At what point does the City decide that a neighborhood is over-saturated with people? Con Edison can barely keep up with electric needs in the summer as it is. Somehow, I’m willing to bet that the developer’s idea of “affordable” housing and mine are not the same.

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Sara Ross

the synagogue (I remember when it was the Trylon Theater) the people that go there haven’t been wearing masks, gather in groups, build those structures on Jewel Avenue and the surrounding areas and will never assimilate to this country. But Tower Diner? This neighborhood depends on them. Every other diner has closed and it’s the only one in the area (besides T-bone by Continental Avenue). We don’t need another residential building!!!!! Where is Karen Koslowitz and every other politician to fight this? How about the Community Board?

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