16 Maple Drive project panning begins in Plaza

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16 Maple Drive project panning begins in Plaza
Christopher Prior, an attorney representing developers for 16 Maple Drive, presented a case for the four-story mixed use building. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Great Neck Plaza officials began panning a proposal for a mixed-use development at 16 Maple Drive on Wednesday night, describing it as a “handsome building” but raising concerns about the variances it will need.

87 Middle Neck Road LLC, a subsidiary of Spiegel Associates, a Jericho-based company with roots in Great Neck, wants to turn 16 Maple Drive into a four-story mixed use building. The first floor would be for high-end retailers, while the next three floors would have a total of 11 apartment units.

The building is mostly vacant currently, save for a barber shop on the bottom floor.

Mark Stumer, a principal of Mojo Stumer and a Kings Point resident who designed the concept, said it would feature a “warm” facade of brick, stone, metal, glass and wood. The top floor would be set back five feet, he also noted, while the bottom level’s retail help the village alleviate an issue with store vacancies.

Stumer emphasized the importance of infrastructure and architecture keeping up with modern times and said that “the cars will work themselves out.”

“I started this with the concept of saying, ‘Hey, I want to do something very cool for Great Neck’ and I truly we believe we did,” Stumer said, adding that the “facade speaks for itself” and will “brighten up that corner.”

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said it is a “very handsome building” and commended Stumer for both it’s “beautiful award-winning design” and use of natural materials.

“Nevertheless, there are certain requirements within this code that we spent a lot of time devising and creating when we crafted this,” Celender said. “So we would want to see all of those requirements as we move forward.”

Christopher Prior, an attorney for the applicant, said the building is “consistent with” the village’s vision of transit-oriented development, attract people who are New York City professionals or downsizing, and get rid of a “functionally obsolete” building.

Prior also said the company intends to pursue variances for height, parking, the number of stories, lot coverage, and rear yard requirements. The building is four stories high when the maximum allowed in the district is two, 46 and a half feet at peak rather than the 25 to 35 allowed, and takes up 72 percent of the lot rather than 60 percent.

“It’s our position that this project will be beneficial to the village and to the community,” Prior said. “We’re proposing an attractive and functional facility on a partial that is now mostly vacant.”

Prior said they are also pursuing variances related to parking. Nine spots can be provided on site via a below grade parking lot, which goes “beyond the footprint” of the building.

The developers are also willing to restripe the Maple Drive parking garage and make safety improvements to its entrance, he said.

Mindy Greenberg, a real estate broker living on Maple Drive, said she has been waiting a long time to be able to park in the garage. The parking in general there has also been problematic, she said, given the angles of the spots and the sloping.

She then asked why someone “just moving in” should be able to get a spot.

“I have been waiting two years with no vision in sight of when I could park in the Maple to park in the garage,” Greenberg said.

Prior said there’s a chance it could “accelerate” her up the waiting list.

Celender said the garage is geared more toward people working in the Plaza because commercial properties had paid an “extra tax” for building it.

Michael Sweeney, the commissioner of public services, said the applicants did not say they’d be taking parking away or “usurping the waiting list.”

“The application is presenting an opportunity to the community to add parking,” Sweeney said.

Transforming the building has been on the table for a few years and gone through more than one architectural firm, before Mojo Stumer was hired in 2016 to design a new concept. The original plan called for five floors but has since been scaled down.

Celender requested that the applicants research the impacts on buildings in the vicinity, notes on how tall the building is at specific points, and check to see if the size of the apartments are in compliance with code.

Trustees adjourned the matter to Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 at 8 p.m.

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