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Public Hearing to Take Place Next Week As Rezoning Application for Tower Diner and Ohr Natan Synagogue Sites Moves Forward

Rendering of the proposed development (RJ Capital Holdings)

Oct. 28, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Queens Community Board 6 will host a public hearing next Wednesday on a developer’s plan to build a mixed-use tower where a popular diner and synagogue in Rego Park are located.

Development company RJ Capital Holdings plans to demolish a number of Queens Boulevard buildings including Tower Diner and Ohr Natan Synagogue to make way for a 15-story mixed-use building.

The proposal has faced an outcry from community members, who say the historic Art Deco building occupied by the synagogue and the iconic clock tower of the Tower Diner should be saved from demolition.

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

A petition to save the buildings and small businesses located on the triangular block has garnered more than 3,400 signatures.

RJ Capital Holdings, meanwhile, hopes to construct a 15-story mixed-use building on the parcels—and assume an address of 98-85 Queens Blvd.

The building would include approximately 158 apartments and 18,000 square feet of commercial space. Forty-eight of the 158 units would be “affordable” pursuant to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement.

RJ Capital Holdings’ plan, however, requires a zoning change and therefore needs approval from the city via the Uniform Land Use Review Process to move forward.

The first step in the ULURP is a public hearing, hosted by the local community board.

Community Board 6 is hosting a public hearing on the plan on Nov. 3 during its Land Use and Housing committee meeting. The online meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and the hearing begins at 7:30 p.m.

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

Members of the public are allowed two minutes to share their thoughts on the proposal and should email [email protected] by 2 p.m. on Nov. 3 to request their time to speak. Community members can also submit written testimony to the same email.

Rudolf Abramov of RJ Capital Holdings previously told the Queens Post that he hopes to break ground in mid-2022.

However, the construction timeline is dependent on how the ULURP unfolds.

The process typically takes seven months after the plans are certified by City Planning. RJ Capital’s plan was certified in mid October.

Under ULURP, the plan will need to be reviewed by Community Board 6 and the Queens borough president, and then be approved by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

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Larry Penner

Diners have been part of my life from teenage years to today. Eating out is a periodic ritual with my wife. Portions are generous. Who never took a doggie bag home with leftovers to eat the next day. Between the customary soup, salad, rolls, coleslaw and pickles along with the main course — dinner could satisfy the heartiest appetite. Many times, we bagged our desserts to go.

Neighborhoods have seen changes over time. Many new immigrant groups sometimes favor their own ethnic foods and restaurants. Diners have also lost customers over time to fast food restaurants. Many of their menus have expanded to also include breakfast items and a greater variety of items for lunch or dinner.

Remember these people are our neighbors. Our local entrepreneurs who own and operate diners have continued to invest in our community creating new employment opportunities. They work long hours, pay taxes and provide local employment. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either.

My wife and I try to tip 20 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, round up to the next dollar. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, don’t forget to leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook.

Remember the people who work at your favorite restaurant are our neighbors. They work long hours for little pay and count on tips, which make up a significant portion of their income. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either. Your purchases keep our neighbors employed and local economy growing.

Drop off a box of candy, cookies or some other treat for your favorite waiter or restaurant staff next time you stop by.

Here’s hoping that our remaining Queens diners all continue to survive and prosper.

Larry Penner – a frequent patron of Queens diners for over 50 years

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