The Village of Great Neck’s consultant for the revitalization of Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road will present the results of its study in “layman’s terms” on Tuesday, outlining properties of interest and proposals to try boosting the areas.
The study by VHB aims to bring about diversified housing options like affordable housing and assisted living facilities, reduced commercial vacancies, a bigger tax base, improved property values, enhanced streetscapes, access to public spaces and improved pedestrian safety.
It does this by highlighting properties of interest, current shortcomings in the area, and suggesting zoning changes to provide incentives for developments the Board of Trustees considers in the public interest.
“With amended zoning in place, the Village would be able to achieve its plan to create a more vibrant, active and accommodating community,” the study says.
The study builds on the 2013 Corridor Study, which featured an updated land use plan for Middle Neck Road and Steamboat Road. It pushed for more active mixed-use development and multi-family housing bookending commercial uses.
This led to the development of the Middle Neck Road Multifamily Incentive Overlay District and Steamboat Road Townhome Redevelopment Incentive District in 2014 and 2015 – but did not bring the results the Board of Trustees wanted.
“Four years since the adoption of the zoning amendments, there has been little if any development of the type initially intended by the Village,” the study says.
Among the ongoing issues are “several vacant commercial buildings and vacant spaces within buildings,” a shortage of residential development to support current commercial developments, a lack of cohesive identity, and some underutilized parking lots and “inefficient use of land,” the report says.
Mayor Pedram Bral has said that a petition with at least 400 signers was a spark for the “revitalization” initiative. At the time it was presented, he said he hoped the study by VHB would offer recommendations to help “develop the village in a proper way” and create a “corridor commercial area” that won’t adversely impact the area.
Trustees had expanded the scope of a study by VHB in November 2017 at a cost to not exceed $100,000 to study the corridors. The formation of a citizens advisory committee was then announced in March to aid the study.
Its responsibilities included gathering input from the community and serving as a liaison to the Board of Trustees to help “in the visioning component” of the project.
VHB’s report suggests allowing ground floor commercial uses, privately owned assisted living facilities, and affordable housing as community benefits. VHB also recommends incentivizing developers by allowing them an extra floor of building height – up to four stories for ground floor commercial developments and five stories for housing.
Privately owned assisted living facilities “should be permitted at a higher density” than a typical multi-family use, VHB says, as assisted living facilities require less parking.
It also recommends allowing for a relaxation of parking requirements on a “case-to-case basis.” VHB notes, however, that developments in the East Shore Road corridor would be unlikely to get these relaxations due to fewer parking issues there.
Developments there should be eligible for “incentive bonuses” too though, VHB says, if they do projects that offer “general community benefits” like improving public access to the waterfront, traffic calming, parks, sidewalks and benches, as well as mixed-use development and affordable housing.
Suggestions from the Great Neck Citizens Advisory Committee are also highlighted in the study. Among them are encouraging outdoor dining and use of open spaces, simplifying the plan approval process, increasing evening and weekend programming, creating a better walking environment, and the provision of “diverse housing options.”
“It is the hope of the GNCAC that its established goals aid in making the Village a vibrant destination for residents and visitors to live, work, and thrive,” the study says. “The GNCAC’s vision, goals and recommendations have been incorporated into this Study and, where feasible, incorporated into the recommended land use and zoning amendments.”
Properties of Interest
According to VHB, the village has identified 16 “properties of interest” along Middle Neck Road and seven along East Shore Road. This means that they are either under development or have “development potential” of interest to the village, the study says.
In the study, VHB recommends expanding the Middle Neck Road-Multifamily Incentive Overlay District to blanket the properties of interest, many of which are close together.
Among the properties of interest are 794-802 and 804-812 Middle Neck Road, which is home to a two-story 40-unit rental complex. The study specifically points to a vacant lot adjacent to north and single-family residents to the west.
It also calls for moving the current Department of Public Works facility, located at 765, 777, 781 Middle Neck Road and 2 Guthell Lane, to 265 East Shore Road and 53 Vista Hill Road. The study says the 2.62-acre Middle Neck Road property is “an out-of-place industrial-type use,” while the East Shore Road location is currently undeveloped.
The village is in the process of acquiring a portion of 53 Vista Hill Road, which touches the rear of the 265 East Shore Road property.
The citizens advisory committee says that with the existing public works site, the board should require the developer to provide a 40-by-200-foot pedestrian space, mixed-use development, “moderately priced” units, retail space “occupied within six months of closing” or “the landlord to reduce rents to percentage rates only for the retail shops.”
Other East Shore Road properties of interest include 310 East Shore Road, 300 East Shore Road, a vehicle storage facility, 280 East Shore Road, another automobile storage area but with no buildings on site, a BMV service center with surface parking at 266 East Shore Road, the Avalon Great Neck building at 240 East Shore Road and 236 East Shore Road, which is home to the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District and the village’s wastewater treatment plant.
In its study, VHB describes 697-705 Middle Neck Road and 12 Hicks Lane as a “one-to-three-story commercial retail and office building with several vacancies” that wraps around the street corner. A separate two-story retail-office building is on the southern part of the site.
An assisted living facility was first pitched for the site in August 2017. If that were to come to fruition, the committee said the developer should provide 12 to 20 feet of frontage to the village for expanding the sidewalk or road at the corner, ensure deliveries are only at the rear of the building and set back the upper floor from the building footprint.
The study also highlights 756 Middle Neck Road, which is a vacant 0.24-acre site, and a 1.14-acre public parking lot in the rear that’s set back behind a vacant parcel. It is a potential site for a new village hall, the committee says in the study.
“Moving to [the] center of downtown will show presence as an epicenter of planned growth on Middle Neck Road,” the recommendation says.
700 Middle Neck Road, home to a four-story 74-unit Village of Great Neck Housing Authority senior citizen apartment building, and a 62-unit rental apartment building at 720 Middle Neck Road and 7 Arrandale Avenue are also noted.
Further to the South is the “wedding cake building,” or 435-451 Middle Neck Road, which is mostly vacant save for HVAC Inc. and 429 Middle Neck Road, which is home to a one-story synagogue but also “a partially vacant commercial use.”
The Millbrook Court apartment complex, located at 240-250 Middle Neck Road, is currently under development. The Old Mill II development, to be located on 3.2 acres of property mostly in the village of Great Neck, is also in the works.