Local preservationists and congregants are calling for Trylon LLC/RJ Capital Holdings to halt proposed demolition of the Trylon Theater, Tower Diner, and adjacent small businesses.
On November 3 at 7:30 p.m., Community Board 6 will hold a public hearing via WebEX on the developer’s plan to demolish the buildings to build a 17-story condo. Those wishing to join the meeting should email [email protected].
A petition launched by City Council candidate Michael Conigliaro garnered over 3,300 signatures in favor of preserving the buildings.
Some small business owners decided to relocate prematurely, including the owners of Tower Diner, who plan to close on November 30. The diner opened in the building in 1993, which used to be home to a bank.
Trylon Liquors moved across the street, while a European collectibles shop decided to relocate to Brooklyn.
Trylon Theater, named after the 1939 World’s Fair’s spire-like monument, was known as “The Theater of Tomorrow” when it opened. Today, it is home to the Ohr Natan congregation.
Rabbi Nahum Kaziev has been trying to negotiate with the developer for years to keep the congregation on site.
“In Judaism, if you raze a synagogue, you will never have a blessing,” he said. “I cannot imagine any reputable business opening in a space where there was a synagogue, a holy place that served thousands.
“We are a second home to many, including concentration camp survivors,” he added.
Ohr Natan serves over 1,000 people, mostly Bukharian Jews. It hosts religious services, festivals, English classes, and provides food for 480 families.
“Since Ohr Natan opened in 2006, it has been the main center for our big local Jewish immigrant community,” said congregant Svetlana Aronoff. “We are all saddened that our lease is not being renewed and the city has not been helping us.”
“I love that the Trylon Theater’s Art Deco architecture is associated with the 1939 World’s Fair, and it’s so heartwarming that a once-beloved theater is now the spiritual home for an immigrant Jewish community,” said Chaya Weinstein.
Nearby resident Dorothy Catherine Kaldi opposes the development and the influx of new residents it will bring.
“It is already torture to navigate the area by car,” she said. “Furthermore, the subways will be even more crowded, effectively turning commuters into sardines crammed into a moving can. Our quality of life in Forest Hills will be severely compromised if this building is built.”