Day 1211

The old Klein farm

April 24th, 2015

Before the Kleins sold it in 2003, this 1.4-acre property was the last family farm left in NYC and the final remnant of what was once a 200-acre spread purchased by Adam Klein in the 1890s. As of 1990, according to the Associated Press, the Kleins were growing "beets, carrots, scallions, radishes, basil, dill, parsley, cucumbers, squash, and kohlrabies" — "stuff that doesn't need that much room to grow" — on what I would guess was about half an acre of cultivated land located behind the old farmhouse pictured above. (The playground next door, which sits on land once owned by the family, is named Farm Playground in honor of the farm's unlikely longevity.)

Much to the chagrin of preservation-minded neighbors and civic leaders, who were hoping the farm could be maintained and run by the Queens County Farm Museum, the Kleins sold the place (for $4.3 million) to the notorious — and felonious — Huang family of developers. The Huangs subsequently leased the property to Ziming Shen, who opened a Preschool of America (a chain owned by Mr. Shen and his wife, Joanna Fan) on the site. In 2012, Ms. Fan and Mr. Shen pleaded guilty to embezzling $2.7 million of federal funds meant to provide food for children at their Red Apple chain of preschools. In 2014, despite being delinquent on the $5.2 million judgment from the Red Apple case, Mr. Shen bought the old farm from the Huangs for $5.6 million. The property lies within a "special planned community preservation district", making it difficult to develop, but the high sale price has local leaders concerned that Mr. Shen, who has already illegally cut down trees on the site, has some kind of underhanded scheme in mind.

One Comment

  1. Sandi says:

    what a lovely, civic-minded group!

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