Regional Plan Association presents zoning report to G.N. Plaza officials

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Moses Gates, a representative for the Regional Plan Association, speaks to members of the board and the public. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

A Regional Plan Association representative presented a report for Great Neck Plaza at a meeting on Wednesday, outlining their recommendations for changing zoning laws in two districts to encourage affordable housing.

The report, first issued to the public at an Aug. 2 board meeting, outlines suggestions for promoting affordable housing development while retaining the look and feel of the village.

“We wanted to promote the provision of affordable housing, but at the same time we wanted to maintain the financial feasibility of development,” Moses Gates, a representative for the Regional Plan Association, said.

Gates said the report recommended increasing the allowed floor area ratio of developments and reducing the 1,200 sq. foot apartment requirement to 1,000 sq. feet to be in line with industry standards. Gates also noted that there would be slight changes to lot coverage.

Taken together, Gates said this would allow for more apartments and that developers could then reach the 20 percent affordable housing unit requirement and stay feasible.

The RT zoning recommendations include upping the floor area ratio from 0.642 to 1.35, allow a building to cover 50 percent of a lot and setting a story limit of four with a permit, as long as the top floor has a five foot setback.

RD zoning recommendations include doubling the allowed floor area ratio, slightly increasing allowed lot coverage and setting a four story limit with a five foot setback.

The report goes on to look at three specific sites that could be developed: the St. Paul’s Church complex, a Great Neck Park District parking lot and 23 Bond St.

“Great Neck Plaza does not have a lot of vacant sites. It is largely bustling and occupied and has a lot going on,” Gates said. “There were only three sites we looked at in the RT and the RD zoning district in terms of what we felt were really underbuilt for the zoning.”

Gates said a development under their suggested RT zoning changes at the St, Paul’s Church complex could have 50 apartments, 10 of which are affordable units. Gates said a possible Park District parking lot, meanwhile, could have an 85 unit apartment with 17 units deemed affordable.

Under current zoning laws, a development at the complex would be 24 units with no guarantee for affordable housing, he said.

Gates then noted 23 Bond St., which is currently a medical office building, could be refashioned into a four-story apartment building with 24 to 30 apartments, five or six of which would be affordable housing units.

Great Neck Plaza Jean Celender said that it will be a long time before any development could occur. Celender referenced the Maestro, a 94-unit apartment complex with 19 affordable housing units in the C2 district, and said that the process there started in 2005 and development did not start until 2011.

“It takes a long time to go through these all and I think we’re doing something that’s a benefit to our village,” Celender said. “We want to see more development in the downtown where it can be supported.”

Village officials said they will be open to public comments until a board meeting on Monday, Sept. 18, which was moved from Sept. 20, a Wednesday.

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