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Queens Chronicle

Is this Ozone Park factory historic?

Cuomo seems to think so, seeking to put it on state & nat’l registers

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Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2017 10:30 am

Gov. Cuomo last Friday named the Spear & Co. Factory, located just south of the Woodhaven-Ozone Park border, one of 21 properties he’s suggesting be added to the state and national registers of historic places — but if you ask area historian Ed Wendell about the place, he couldn’t tell you much.

“This is the first I’m hearing anything about the building,” said Wendell, who has studied the history of Woodhaven and some Ozone Park buildings.

The building, located at 94-15 100 St., was once home to Regal Spear Co., which produced hats, and the Columbia Wax Products Co., a national manufacturer of novelty candles.

A report compiled by Gregory Dietrich Preservation Consulting, a group that assists individuals and entities in getting buildings landmarked, states the building’s history and architecture make it eligible for historic status.

On the latter, the preservation group states, “The Spear & Company factory is not only significant for embodying the practical benefits of reinforced-concrete factory construction, but also for its simplicity and utility as exhibited by a restrained eclectic utilitarian design.”

Unlike becoming a city landmark, being added to the state and national registers of historic places does not prevent a structure from being torn down but it’s often considered a first step in preserving a site.

The status also makes property owners eligible for tax credits to rehabilitate the structures.

“The Empire State proudly celebrates its diverse culture and rich heritage, and with the addition of these significant sites to the Registers of Historic Places, we will continue to honor all of the great things that make New York, New York,” Cuomo said in statement announcing the suggested sites. “Listing these landmarks will honor the contributions made by so many New Yorkers throughout our vast history, and helps advance efforts to preserve and improve these important historic sites for future generations.”

Although Wendell, who has never been inside the factory, had little knowledge of the site before being reached by a Chronicle reporter, he said it might be a victory for other historic sites in the borough.

“I’m very happy when anything in Queens gets considered,” he said. “That makes it more likely something else will get considered.”

Gregory Dietrich’s report states the 100th Street building was a manufacturing hotspot in its heyday — today, there are still workers inside the building, who will soon be joined by even more.

The city Economic Development Corp. announced last December the site will be retrofitted to accommodate 24 businesses and 80 skilled workers thanks in part to a $10 million grant and $3.7 million loan from the EDC.

The 24 businesses that will work out of the space are expected to employ woodworkers, set builders, metal workers, home goods manufacturers and more at an average rate of $51,500 per year, according to the EDC.

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