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Queens Chronicle

Future of landmark Neir’s in jeopardy

Famed Woodhaven bar caught off-guard by surprise sale of building

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Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:30 am

The building that has been home to historic Neir’s Tavern for 190 years has been sold.

Negotiations for a new lease are underway with a management company that represents the new owners, according to a spokesman for the landmark bar.

“No one knows what’s going to happen,” said Ed Wendell, head of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.

Wendell, who is acting as a spokesman for a group of community leaders originally organized late last year to plan Neir’s anniversary celebration this fall, describes the situation as “unsettled.”

But, he added, “We’re more optimistic than pessimistic.”

The historic building at 78th Street and 88th Avenue in Woodhaven was sold in mid-December to a limited liability corporation based in College Point, according to city records The sale price was listed at $1.35 million.

The sale came as a surprise to the bar’s owner, Rendell said.

News of the sale was first disclosed last weekend when Neir’s owner, Loycent Gordon, a New York City firefigher who bought the bar 10 years ago and began restoring it, appeared at the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association’s monthly meeting.

The new managers of the building — which also includes a recording studio, a karate studio and two private apartments — “had no idea until I told them” that it housed a piece of New York history, Gordon told the meeeting.

Originally, the managers intended to put “a grocery store or a liquor store” in the spot where Neir’s is, they told Gordon, who said he was “speechless” when he learned last month he had a new landlord.

The identity of the new owners is — as is often the case with commercial real estate transactions — difficult to track down.

A corporation named 353 Rockaway Realty LLC is listed as the new owner. Records show its address as a single-family, private home in College Point. The owner of the home, Xuiming Shi, does not have a listed phone, nor can any other phones associated with the address be found.

Gordon says he had been dealing since the sale with a management company representing 353 Rockaway Realty but declined to identify it because he did not want to disturb the ongoing negotiations for a new lease.

“I felt obligated to inform the people who are the real supporters and advocates of Neir’s of what was going on,” he said of his impromptu appearance before the block assocation last Saturday.

“I didn’t want people saying: ‘Why didn’t Loy tell us?’”

Gordon tried but failed several years ago to get Neir’s designated a landmark by the city, based on its claim of being the oldest bar in New York, in operation on the same spot since 1829. Landmark status would have protected the bar from changes.

“I don’t see any reason to doubt we can save it,” Wendell said last week.

“This place is part of our identity,” he said. “Neir’s is the kind of place you wear on a T-shirt around the neighborhood.”

CLARIFICATION

This article originally noted Ed Wendell's affiliation with a community organization that is separate from the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society. It also originally misspelled his last name. We regret the error.

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