Longtime Flushing activist and planner Wellington Chen has been nominated by Mayor di Blasio to serve on the 11-person Landmarks Preservation Commission as a lay member.
His nomination will now by vetted by the city and voted on by the City Council.
Chen has been executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp. in Manhattan for nine years.
The Flushing resident previously served as a planning advocate for TDC Center, a Flushing developer. The firm, in conjunction with others, is now creating the mixed-use Flushing Commons, at the former site of Municipal Parking Lot 1.
Chen considers himself a preservationist and cites his involvement in trying to get the RKO Keith’s Theatre landmarked and saving Flushing Town Hall from neglect.
Chen also points to his involvement in saving Flushing Town Hall, which had been leased and was rapidly deteriorating. He called a meeting with the leasee and eventually the property reverted to the city.
CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman, who worked with Chen for years, said the mayor couldn’t have made a better choice in selecting him.
Rosemary Vietor, president of the Bowne House Historical Society, said Chen’s background “is perfect for this.” She pointed to his involvement in restoring Flushing Town Hall, adding, “I am very enthusiastic about him.”
But not everyone in Flushing is a fan of Chen. Paul Graziano, a historic preservationist and zoning consultant, said he has “great reservations” about the nomination. “I am very concerned because he is not a preservationist, but a longtime fixture in development issues.”
Jerry Rotondi, a member of the Committee to Save the Keith’s, said he doesn’t think Chen will be an asset on the LPC.
“He is too politically connected and I don’t see him as a champion for Queens because he’s on the side of too many developers,” Rotondi added.