Great Neck trustees approve reviews for controversial apartment complexes

Trustees from the Village of Great Neck unanimously approved the site plan, architectural, and facade reviews for two controversial Middle Neck Road proposals. (Rendering courtesy of Newman Design)

The Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees approved the site plan, architectural and facade reviews for two Middle Neck Road apartment buildings that have been met with mixed reviews from the public.

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. This is a shift from plans with 44 residential units and 79 parking spaces. The project’s developer is Lions Group LLC, with architectural aid from Newman Design.

The developer was asked by village officials to provide a rendering of all sides of the building during the April 6 public meeting after showing schematic renderings that showed its elevation.  Brian Newman of Newman Design presented the board with an updated, more modern look and warmer colors, which members of the board said they appreciated.

“I think this has significantly changed from the previous presentation to a much warmer, more residential look,” Mayor Pedram Bral said.

The board also unanimously approved a negative declaration in regard to the project’s SEQRA, or environmental, review.

The board also approved the reviews for a proposed mixed-use project on 733-41 Middle Neck Road.

The proposed structure is 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.

There are also amenity spaces for the tenants that will include storage areas, a conference room, a lounge, a library and a small fitness center, according to the latest set of plans presented by John Farrell, who represents the developer, Gesher Community LLC.

The property is 34,849 square feet, according to Farrell.

The board lauded the applicant for creating a more appealing proposal with various colors to choose from.  The new proposal featured French balconies, a more compartmentalized appearance and ornamental lighting on the building’s exterior, based on the board’s request at the last meeting.

Farrell also informed the board at the last meeting that the applicant rescinded a request for a rooftop deck at the moment, saying that everyone involved wanted to move onto the next stages of the process regardless. The resolution passed by the board did not say that the applicant is not permitted to put a rooftop deck on the building, leaving the door open for the applicant to apply for it later.

Members of the community also asked about the status of the art gallery, which had been mentioned by Farrell and other representatives of the project in previous meetings. Oz Cetin, of Gad Ashoori, the project’s developer, said though the art gallery may be owned privately, it will be open to the public. Cetin said once the building is erected and becomes operational, more details can be available as to what type of gallery it will be.

A handful of North Road residents, who will be directly impacted by the project, have voiced their concerns about potential intrusions from tenants in the proposed building, along with their displeasure about the proposal’s approval process to this point.

Though similar proposals have been sent to the Board of Trustees in the past, the updated plans, submitted through the village’s zoning board, did not feature 12 variances previously approved by the village.

The 25-unit proposal sent to, and ultimately approved by, the Board of Trustees more than a year ago included the 12 variances along with requiring the applicant to pay the village $150,000 in lieu of a specific community amenity under the village code and the existing incentive overlay district.

Village officials said that the 25-unit project was ultimately withdrawn by Gesher Community LLC and that the plan featuring 60 units and 93 below-grade parking spaces was taken directly to the zoning board.

Village resident and architect Ken Lee attempted to express his displeasure with the variances during the zoning board meeting on March 4, but the zoning board did not permit it since the public hearing was strictly focused on the site plan review for the proposed structure. Instead, Lee pleaded with the applicant to be as reasonable and accommodating as possible in constructing the building.

“Be considerate,” Lee said during the March 4 meeting. “I mean, luckily you have all those variances approved. So at this point, you need to think about it, how to help the neighbors and how to not damage further.”

Lee also claimed the 5,000-square-foot easement for dry wells on 7 Hicks Lane was taken into consideration improperly.  Lee claimed that the 5,000-square-foot easement should not be taken into consideration in terms of how many units were granted.

Village resident Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, who resides within 200 feet of the proposed project, said she was not properly notified of the project by the developer.

“The developer has never sent me a notification,” Gilliar said in a letter to village officials. “In my possession are three of the envelopes in which the developer mailed to my husband notification of meetings/hearings, but not to me. My husband and I co-own the property.”

Gilliar said her husband had envelopes addressed solely in his name from June, September and December 2020. She also expressed disapproval of the way that zoning board Chairman Dennis Grossman and the zoning board handled the proposal’s evolution.

Kenneth Grey, legal counsel to the zoning board, informed the public that there is no 200-foot notification requirement under the site plan review portion of the village code. However, the board of appeals section of the code states, “Before an application for a variance or a conditional, special or other use permit may be heard by the Board of Appeals or the Board of Trustees, a complete and accurate list of the names and addresses of the owners of all the lands within a radius of 200 feet of the property affected by such application shall be submitted simultaneously with the application.”

About the author

Robert Pelaez

Share this Article