COMMUNITY SERVICE: Since Mercy Wong lives near the Ridgewood Theater, she is interested in how the community could use the now-shuttered establishment. As a member of Community Board (CB) 5, Wong is involved with the campaign to re-designate the theater for uses that would enhance her community.
With the theater slated for sale, the focus has shifted to involving the community and negotiating with the new owners.
“We want the community to be aware that the theater is being sold,” she said. “It’s an important piece of the community.”
Wong said CB5 and We Love Ridgewood Theater are set on engaging the owners in the hope they will be receptive to “keeping the place relevant.”
BACKGROUND: Wong moved to New York in 2004 after attending the University of California, Berkeley. She received her graduate degree from Columbia University’s architecture school.
Wong works for HLW International, a 128-year-old architecture firm. She mainly works on designing corporate and commercial buildings, but Wong said her personal interest is “doing things that can help the community architecturally, which is why I was drawn to the theater.”
FAVORITE MEMORY: “The moment I decided that I was going to do something about the theater. It kind of opened up a world to me that I wasn’t quite familiar with before.”
Wong said she now feels more connected to the place where she lives. As an architect, she feels lucky to have a chance to work on a project like this, helping re-purpose a historic property.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The Ridgewood Theater is Wong’s first project as a CB5 member. She is tasked with imagining uses for the building and its historical facade and negotiating with the new owners. She hopes the community will be involved in the decision and potentially benefit from it.
“If there are performance arts or an entertainment venue, that’s good because it’s something that can bring age and ethnicity together.”
Other possible uses on Wong’s list include an art gallery, small restaurant and gathering place for seniors.
INSPIRATION: Wong says that she is “very humbled to be surrounded by members [of CB5] that have been there for a long time.
BY LUKE TABET
- Star of Queens: Edwin Westley, president, Jackson Heights Beautification Group
- Star of Queens: Carolann Foley, president, 107th Precinct Community Council
- Star of Queens: Isa Abdur-Rahman, president & executive director, Farmers Boulevard Community Development Corporation