Friday, September 18, 2015

Apex of destruction

Among the streets of northeastern Forest hills, the two-block Apex Place is unique for defying the boring rectangular grid. The road is a remnant of the ancient North Hempstead Plank Road that connected Maspeth and Newtown with Flushing. As is often the case, old streets have old homes. On the corner of 63rd Road and Apex Place a charming colonial revival home owned for many decades by Lewis and Luba Meiselman. Lewis died in 1997 and his son Barry paid the taxes for another decade. In 2014, he sold the property to Artur and Alexandra Yakutelov through Dom Realty. This realtor has a long record of selling old homes to buyers who knock them down in favor of tract mansions. Don't get me wrong. Some of the new mansions look fabulous and worthy of the AIA Guide but most look like shit.

The new owners don't have the taste to maintain a colonial revival and applied in April 2015 to expand and renovate the home under architect Chang Hwa Tan. As for Barry, he lives in tony Scarsdale so why should he care what happens to his parents' historic house? This story isn't so different from the fate of historic 90-11 56th Avenue in Elmhurst, where the heirs of longtime resident Vera D. McCarthy sold it to a Chinese developer.

Little old home that has seen so much change
To become another shitty brick box
With a tall brick fence and shiny chrome gates
Your old owner died and his children don't care
For the beauty of a house
On a former colonial lane

-Former Forest Hills resident


Jackson Heights Johnny said...

Nobody anywhere cares about history anymore....

Old homes are only part of the problem: today's children learn NOTHING about things like WWII and even things like 9/11 are not in the curriculum.

And especially my pet peeve: FLUSHING MEADOWS CORONA PARK. Anyone who remembers the World's Fair, and how beautiful the park was then surely knows what I mean. It was a FAMILY place, full of fun and memories.

So.... how can we expect people to care about the history and the intrinsic value of their parents' home(s); today only one thing matter to people - MONEY!

(sarc) said...

So you and your family have settled down and living your lives.
Your parents meet their untimely demise. In your grief you must settle their estate.
OH NO - you are on the hook for a bunch of NYS DEATH TAXES. What is a person to do?

Let's see, we have my childhood home that is now in a neighborhood quite unlike it was when I grew up.
Wow, my folks let a lot of stuff go and deteriorate, it needs everything. Windows, doors heating system, insulation siding and that's just to get it barely livable on the outside. The inside needs a serious makeover.
I remember when I grew up, how I froze every night of the winter in that drafty old house, no wonder my folks were both crippled with arthritis.
Every floorboard creaked.
I'm not a contractor, I can't do this, I have to hire and check on everyone.
It will cost a boatload of money! For what? My wife and I don't want to live here.
Do any of the neighbors even speak English?
We used to play stickball in the street. Now there are a ton of cars
We should move from the burbs with the best school district to this one on the bottom of the list?

I am now on the hook for a couple hundred thousand in taxes.
My parents didn't have a lot of money in the bank, they just this house and the other rental building.
I guess I will clean it out and sell it.

So these people on the blog expect me to sell the fruits of my fathers life's work to someone who will restore it and live there.
I'll tell the realtor that I need a clause in the contract that the building must be maintained and restored.
Might not sell so fast. But the IRS want their money.

You know that a realtor cannot discriminate. Right?

So what is a person to do?

You people love to complain, but I don't see you buying these "historical" homes, refurbishing them and living in them and maintain it to the period.

Let the government do it? Oh they are great at everything. Just raise taxes.
Why should the taxpayer be on the hook for this old crap?

How many of these " museums" can we have and afford?

Yes - you want everything land marked. And the owner now has something that cannot be sold for its true potential value.

What do you want?
This is an honest question
I don't care about the vitriolic comments, it just shows you have NO idea.

If you want the powers that be to control every aspect of how your house looks, move to a gated community!

Anonymous said...

Sarc, everything you just wrote is well written and SPOT ON. Hats off to you.

Sergey Kadinsky said...

Sarcastic commentator, I have a few ideas:

1. Find a broker who specializes in historical structures who will find a buyer who appreciates history. That buyer can be of any race, religion or sexual orientation. You may also consult a preservationist organization for advice on how to sell your home in a way that will maintain its appearance. Consult an attorney about drafting a restrictive covenant.

2. You may also donate the home to a nonprofit organization, a donation that you can write off your taxes. Learn about it:

3. Many former residential homes in our borough are used as churches, synagogues and funeral homes. Their exteriors and property footprints often remain unchanged.

4. If your parents couldn't maintain their house in their old age, where were you to help them? When my mother or grandmother have problems with a cabinet or window, my brother and I stop by to fix the problem. Honor thy parents, see Fifth Commandment. If you're an atheist, consult your local Ethical Society Leader for advice on honoring parents.

5. If you're unhappy with the tax situation, you can elect a candidate who will lower taxes, hire an attorney and an accountant who will ease your burden by moving accounts around legally.

4. Unlike you, I've visited plenty of museums and appreciate their role as secondary classrooms for children on field trips, as staycation destination for locals and as attractions for tourists. Museums enable visitors to gain a greater appreciation for the arts and history.

I love my hometown borough and hope to see more of its residents appreciate its culture, history and values. I arrived here as an immigrant, learned English and became active in local civic affairs. Whenever possible, I encourage other newcomers to do the same.

Anonymous said...

dont you people remember your nursery rhymes?
they were supposed to teach us something
this little pig used straw, the next little pig used sticks
the one that worked was the house of brick
all these old stick frames are crap and falling down

Jackson Heights Johnny said...

SERGE: that is one of the most well written pieces I have read on this blog. I have also read your contributions to FORGOTTEN-NY, so I know how passionate you are about local history, and the borough of Queens, and NYC in general. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Sarc!

Anonymous said...

Serge - don't pay any attention to (sarc) - he showed up here a few weeks ago and started insulting people who care about protecting the history of Queens, along with constant and unending diatribes about taxes.

It's people like you and Paul Graziano that we need more of to help save what's left of a (still) surprisingly livable place - or at least the parts that haven't been overdeveloped or savaged.

Anonymous said...

If Paul Graziano and Tony Avella weren't active in our neighborhood instead of being downzoned we would have been upzoned. You think parking is annoying now?? You think there's too many churches now?? Be grateful they have fought so hard for BFHA. Clearly many of you don't own houses or shouldn't. People don't buy houses to run them into the ground, all homeowners know what's involved in maintenance and repairs, lots of $$$$$$$. So stop your crying or move to an apartment.

This neighborhood is incredibly unique and full of historic nuggets. If BFHA doesn't get landmarked it will all be gone and it's just a matter of time before covenant violations exceed $$ to fight them in court.

(sarc) said...

Sergey Kadinsky

Interesting thoughts

1. Most people do not even know that such brokers exist. Thank you for that information.
Lets be honest! A restrictive covenant would greatly reduce the potential buyers and what the market will bear.
Why wound anyone getting out purposefully reduce the value of the fruits of their labor?

2. If I were in a position to donate such vast piece of property, I would direct it to something IMHO worthwhile such as breast cancer research or diabetes. To have an old dilapidated monument to myself is just not my style.

3. A church? Really? I have seen numerous beautiful churches bulldozed and developed because they were BROKE!
And too many stories of churches closed, sold, and over developed have filled the pages of this blog. I am involved with more tan three churches, and they are all just scraping by. The plate is lighter and lighter week by by week, the attendance is down, the cost of operations goes up and up. The are a perfect example of what I am talking about - huge tall ceilings beautiful UNINSULATED stained glass. Do you know what it takes to heat them just for Sunday service? There are just a few old volunteers doing a few menial but appreciated tasks, the rest outsourced, i.e. Snow removal, landscaping, housekeeping, cleaning, repairs, maintenance, etc... Life is busy now - no one has time.

4. My folks were taken care of! The doors and windows worked and were painted (how many coats of paint can you have?) but were still drafty. The cabinets worked but were old , not modern, and tired. Real estate 101 kitchens and baths sell! I do try to follow the commandments, but unlike Bill & Hillary, I do not consider them as multiple choice. I am a God fearing Christian who is thankful for the Good Lords grace.

5. I vote! And I am sure you will be surprised to know that none of the candidates I vote for win. Have you read the rest of this blog? Politicians investigated, indited, jailed... ( unfortunately not enough of them) The system here is broken, we will become Detroit before things turn around. The easiest way to fix the tax situation is by moving to a free state. I am working on that, but you are stuck with me for a while. Did you notice we lost two congressional seats? People are fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. Why is Florida full of New Yorkers?TAXES
My estate is in order, at least as good as it can be in this city & state.

6. Yes I enjoy, and take the kids to museums. But they and I do not want to go and pay 20 bucks to walk around an old house to look at a few faded photos and hand written letters. For goodness sake, most children do not even learn or know cursive any more. Our wonderful public education system - teach to the test. Realistically these cultural centers & so called museums are also broke, and sadly volunteers are quickly dying off. Sad but true, kids can sit at the computer and get interactive, virtual reality tours... Those who forget history are dammed to repeat it. Study the Dinkens and Carter years...

I am glad for your story, and becoming an active participant of our community. I commend you on your use of the English language! Unlike the current batch of immigrants illegal & legal. But times and life changes, quicker now than before.
Take a picture and move on. Good luck

And anonymous # whatever
Been here for quite some time, just decided that there are too many anonymouses...
If you are not worried about the taxes, perhaps you are one of the leaches on the public dole? If you think taxes are too low - there is no law against sending in extra.
You complain that I insult people as you insult me, a bit hypocritical? Just because I do not agree with your opinion? This is supposed to be an exchange of ideas and opinions. There are plenty of insults to go around. Has everyone gotten so thin skinned in this age of political correctness? And I admit I can be insulting at times.

Anonymous said...

I like you Sarc! You speak the truth.