The Village of Great Neck’s Board of Trustees voted to approve plans to build a three-story mixed-use building at 523-531 Middle Neck Rd. at a public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
The proposed building will take up space formerly occupied by Middle Neck Pharmacy, which closed late last year, and HSBC, which relocated to 57 Middle Neck Rd. earlier this year. Its site plans, designed by Raymond Chan Architect PC, call for a 36-foot tall structure, set back 25 feet from the curb to create a patio for villagers, with three-foot tall parapets at the edge of the roof to help redirect noise from air conditioning. The first floor of the building will be dedicated for retail space, while the upper two floors will house 10 apartment units. Seven parking spaces for apartment-dwellers will be cut in to the back side of the ground floor, which abuts a village parking lot.
Paul Bloom, an attorney who spoke on behalf of property owner and applicant Silver Lake Realty Group, said the reduced square footage of retail space for the proposed building would result in cheaper rent that would make the currently vacant property more attractive as a location for businesses.
“Years ago a developer would build a structure similar to this and the retail rentals would subsidize the residential apartments above,” Bloom said. “Today, the residential units are going to be supplementing the retail below. The object here is to have a viable part of what is, I call, the heart of our business district.”
A traffic and parking study conducted by Mulryan Engineering in conjunction with the Nassau County Planning Commission resulted in the county ruling to leave approval of the plan to the village.
“The existing building has zero parking,” Mulryan Engineering civil engineer Sean Mulryan said. “There are seven additional parking spaces that are going to be provided as part of the application, and the increase will be coming from the residential units, which have a much lower trip-generation rate than retail space. This site not only backs up to a municipal parking lot, but there is additional municipal parking across the street.”
Mulryan also added that retail and residential parking needs were not likely to overlap, since most of the stores in the area are closed or winding down operations when people get home from work in the evening.
The disparity between available parking spaces and apartments still drew criticism from meeting-goers, who contended that the three-space shortfall would result in additional cars needing to park on Middle Neck Road, taxing businesses like the nearby Bagel Hut that already contend with limited parking for customers.
“I would be less likely to stop at Bagel Hut if there’s no parking because the people from the residential complex have crammed the parking lot,” Jenni Lurman said. “So I don’t see how this is going to revitalize the business district. If anything, it’ll deter people from going to these businesses.”
The board meeting also saw a presentation for a proposed mixed-use building at 733 Middle Neck Rd. Since children who live in both buildings would go to the school district’s North schools, resident Yaffa Rabe raised concerns that the apartments could exacerbate overcrowding at the schools.
“The North schools are very crowded already, are we planning to build more schools in Great Neck to accommodate this influx of children,” Rabe, who also wondered if the apartments would create congestion in emergency situations, asked. “If we’re going to have so many more children, we need to accommodate them.”
A day after the meeting, the village put out a press release titled “New Three Story in Heart of Village of Great Neck Delights All.” Mayor Pedram Bral was quoted in a statement saying “we are extremely pleased that a number of residents who regularly attend village board meetings expressed their whole-hearted approval of the building during public comment.”