Great Neck residents strongly opposed a proposal for a new condominium that would replace a vacant building at 193 Middle Neck Road during a community input meeting on Thursday.
The proposal features 22 units rising five stories tall, along with 45 below-grade parking spaces. The condominium would fit within the existing structure’s footprint, project representatives said, replacing a vacant building on the corner of Middle Neck Road and Allenwood Road.
Concerns about the apartment’s design, impact on school enrollment and vehicle congestion were heard by the developer’s legal consultants during the meeting.
Among those who spoke was Elizabeth Domoff, a Great Neck resident for more than 30 years, who said it may be a “beautiful building” that’s out of place.
“It will totally overwhelm that whole intersection and that whole part of town,” Domoff said. “It just does not belong where it’s situated.”
Robert Bahary of Bahary Architecture, the project’s architect, suggested the design was meant to replicate a “park-like atmosphere,” but concerns over the building’s facade were expressed by other residents throughout the peninsula.
“Why are you choosing such a futuristic architectural style that stands out so much?” said Sam Yellis, a Great Neck resident. “Why not try to fit into the vernacular of the neighborhood?”
“What makes you think that the property owners living on Allenwood and in the Allenwood Park area want a monstrosity building, five stories, on the corner of Allenwood and Middle Neck Road?” resident Paul Lefkowitz said. “I moved from Queens so that I didn’t have to live amongst giant, tall buildings.”
Steven Schlesinger, a partner at the legal firm Jaspan Schlesinger LLP, representing the developer, Yun Lin Realty LLC, said alterations to the façade are not out of the question, and tax revenue derived from residents should be considered a potential benefit.
“This building, if it’s built, would generate tremendous taxes,” Schlesinger said. “I have clients that have tried very hard to do something that is nice, consistent with the apartment houses on Middle Neck Road, and will generate tax revenue from an unproductive abandoned property.”
Since the property is currently listed as religious use, it is not on the village’s tax rolls. Developing a condominium versus leaving the site untouched is a decision Schlesinger framed as clear.
“The choice is really an empty vacant building generating no taxes or some developer coming in with some project that makes economic sense,” Schlesinger said. “Very little else makes economic sense to build.”
Concerns over the proposal extended beyond aesthetics and population density, with some residents arguing that there would be a “huge traffic jam.” Robert Eschbacher, a principal at VBH Engineering and traffic consultant for the developer, said the added traffic would be negligible.
“Adding one car every four minutes is not going to cause any noticeable increase in travel time delays on Middle Neck Road,” Eschbacher said. “They won’t be delaying on the street causing other problems.”
“An argument could be made that revitalizing an area and bringing in young families and children keeps Long Island going,” said Simone Freeman, a partner at Jaspan Schlesinger.
“But it doesn’t have to be on that corner,” Donoff replied.
The proposal came after the site, architectural and facade plans for two controversial multifamily units were approved by the Village of Great Neck’s Board of Trustees two weeks ago.
The proposal at 777 Middle Neck Road is a three-story multifamily project with 38 units (13 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units) and 80 parking stalls, according to updated plans presented by Paul Bloom of Harras, Bloom and Archer LLP. The project’s developer is Lions Group LLC, with architectural aid from Newman Design.
The board also approved the reviews for a proposed mixed-use project at 733-41 Middle Neck Road, a four-story building that is 44 feet high and features 60 dwelling units, with 56 two-bedroom apartments and four one-bedroom apartments, 93 below-grade parking spaces, a recreation center and an art gallery.
This article has been updated to reflect how the meeting was held. The meeting was scheduled by the project’s legal counsel, rather than the Village of Great Neck’s Board of Zoning Appeals.