Photo: NY Times by Richard Perry
Vacated tenants of a 19th-century mansion in College Point pleaded with city officials Tuesday to landmark the stately building - a step they said would prevent its demolition and perhaps expedite their return home.
Choking back tears, two frustrated renters from the Schleicher House at 13th Ave. and 123rd St. urged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the 2-1/2-story brick building - built in 1857 on a unique circular plot - a historic site.
"I hope you can save it," said Rita Douglas, 51. "I just want to go back home."
Douglas had lived in the mansion from March 2008 until July, when its seven tenant families were forced to vacate.
Ousted resident Kalvis Macs, 38, begged the city to "do a lot for the community" by landmarking the Italianate and Second Empire-style structure, which was converted to a hotel in the 1890s and apartments in 1923.
Tenants allege that landlord Eva Rohan was so intent on selling the mansion to a demolition-minded developer that she neglected wiring snafus - leading the city to declare conditions "perilous" and vacate tenants.
Rohan, who didn't return calls seeking comment Tuesday, has previously denied any demolition plans and slammed the tenants for not paying electric bills.
Preservationists predicted the commission will landmark the mansion - partly because local City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) supports the designation and can guide it through the Council.
The 11-member commission is expected to vote on the designation in coming months.
Meanwhile, the commission unanimously approved a historic district of 36 rowhouses in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn - the ninth non-Manhattan district created under Chairman Robert Tierney.
That is a record for districts outside of Manhattan created under one chairman.
Since Tierney took over in 2003, the commission has approved five districts in Brooklyn, two in Queens - in Douglaston Hill and Sunnyside Gardens - and one each in the Bronx and on Staten Island.
A commission spokeswoman pointed to Tierney's record as proof the agency does not unfairly favor sites in Manhattan, as critics often suggest.