EBHA Claims Mortgage Obtained Through Deception
The efforts of Jesus Covenant Church to construct a one-story structure on a lot at 26-18 210th St., Bayside for use as a church may have hit a snag. According to a letter from state Senator Frank Padavan to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Kyung Jin Chung and Kwan Ok Chun bought the one-family house and property at that address for an unspecified amount between $700,000 and $800,000 with a mortgage held by Emigrant Mortgage Company, Inc. for use as a private residence. However, the house, on record as being built in 1940, was torn down and a foundation for a one-story building, to be used as a church, was laid. Chung and Chun are both connected to Jesus Covenant Church.
Sources indicate that according to the mortgage, which is available for public access on the New York City Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) site, the owners signed a rider agreement, "Rider R", at the closing that they intended to occupy the property as their primary residence. Rider R states, "The premises may not be rented or subleased during the first three years of the loan term," which means whatever structure is listed as being on the property must be owner-occupied. The mortgage also specifically states that the property "is or will be improved by only a one- or two-family residence or dwelling".
Members of the East Bayside Homeowners Association (EBHA), who are opposed to the construction on the grounds that the structure proposed to be built is inappropriate for a lot that size and that its establishment would add parking problems to an already overburdened area maintain that Chung's and Chun's failure to abide by this agreement constitutes a default under the Note and Security Instrument. Also, they claim, paragraph 37 under the "Rider to Mortgage" states that the premises must be occupied as the mortgagees' primary residence for 30 days after the date of the mortgage up until the first anniversary date of the mortgage, or face their interest rates being increased. The owners in many ways have failed to abide to the agreement and promises they made to the lender (Emigrant Bank) when they took out this loan, so in essence the lender's interest in the property is compromised, EBHA members state.
EBHA members further maintain that the complete demolition of the house originally on the property and the building of a structure that is obviously a church show that the owners never intended to occupy the house as their primary residence. "They signed an agreement at the closing that they would occupy the premises as their primary residence for at least three years and then they turned around and submitted paperwork to first alter the property and later filed for an NB permit, all within a year's period," a member claimed. "At this point, Emigrant has grounds to foreclose upon them because the owners have demolished the premises used to secure the mortgage."
At a meeting in late April in the common room at All Saints' Church in Bayside, EBHA members were warned that any efforts to block construction of the church might be in vain, since the church was proceeding according to the stipulation of the city building code known as "as-of-right". However, the apparent violation of the terms of the mortgage may cause the construction to be brought to a halt, at least until the situation is resolved, if not permanently. Padavan summed up the situation in his letter. "The problem… is that the property at 26-18 210th St [reet] is being converted into a church, which is a community use facility, not a one- or two-family home," Padavan's letter to Cuomo states.
While they await word on the disposition of the problem from Cuomo, EBHA members note that the church has taken on a new name—World Aflame Community Church—and that the total number of occupants for the proposed structure has increased from 65 to 98 people. They wonder if the church's application to the city Department of Buildings has been modified to reflect a completely new congregational establishment.
"It appears that the owners utilized an already established nonprofit organization in order to start the building application process, banking on the fact that new certification would be forthcoming for 'World Aflame Community Church'. It is inconceivable to think that such major changes in the building application are legal," an EBHA member declared.