The Great Neck Record is excited to feature one of our villages each week this summer.
In Great Neck Plaza and its bustling downtown business and shopping area, there is always something new. Mayor Jean Celender is bubbling with news of village enhancement plans.
The Plaza is continuing its popular weekly Summer Concerts in the Park and Promenade Nights, bringing a host of musicians to perform live right in town, and featuring unique restaurants. “It’s a community block party,” boasts the mayor.
Adding to the fun, the Plaza is proud to welcome the first LI suburban outlet of the international coffeehouse chain Caffé Bene, which will soon open. It was the first for Starbucks 20 years ago.
With the majority of the Plaza’s downtown area within a half-mile of Great Neck’s train station, the village has adopted Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zoning to encourage mixed-use developments near mass transportation. TODs raise transit ridership, cut car trips and provide apartments that don’t necessitate an automobile. Celender was recently interviewed by the Rauch Foundation on “Building a Better Burb” to discuss TOD zoning, as well as safety, parking, and revitalization.
Celender reports the Board is eager for even more sustainable projects—that don’t overburden existing facilities but allow for growth to increase jobs and stabilize taxes. Plaza officials hope that, as elsewhere, TOD zoning will mean more residents shopping in downtown retail stores and restaurants.
They are also considering a proposal by a long-time real estate development firm with properties in the Plaza to renovate a one-story retail building on Middle Neck Road at Maple Drive into a four-story mixed-use building under TOD zoning. The ground level would house a retail shop, with residences on the upper floors.
Celender reports that many prospective businesses filed applications for conditional use permits this summer. This month, a Salute to New Merchants will recognize approximately 30 businesses that opened or expanded in the Plaza within the last year.
Great Neck Plaza Village Hall is at 2 Gussack Plaza. Celender heads the board of trustees, plus Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen and trustees Lawrence Katz, Pamela Marksheid and Gerald Schneiderman.