Great Neck trustees approve Millbrook plans, review other projects

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Great Neck trustees approve Millbrook plans, review other projects
A digital rendering of the proposed Millbrook Apartments changes shows the addition of new buildings and a change to building exteriors. (Photo from Newman Design Architects)

Village of Great Neck trustees approved a demolition and renovation project for the Millbrook Court apartments on Tuesday night on the condition that the applicants provide a shuttle bus and aim to complete the project within three years.

According to the plans, North Shore Millbrook LLC will  demolish 34 apartment units – or roughly 12,637 square feet of building space – to help make way for 101 new apartments through three buildings, or 39,116 square feet of building space.

This would be on top of the 85 units that remain, bringing the total amount of apartments to 186 and number of bedrooms to 288, the plans say.

The proposed four-story north building would have 59 apartment units, according to plans, with 32 one-bedroom apartments, 11 two-bedroom apartments and 16 three-bedroom apartments.

The four-story south building would have 27 units, including 11 one-bedroom apartments and 16 two-bedroom apartments, while the three-story west building would have 15 units, 13 of which are two bedrooms. The other two units are one-bedroom apartments.

Additionally, representatives previously said they plan to construct underground parking facilities, upgrade building facades, install new roofs and windows, and change landscaping. There would also be a fitness center, recreational area, a pool and upgrades to HVAC systems.

Paired with the approval of the plans would be a shuttle bus from Millbrook Court to the train station in Great Neck Plaza and back, officials said, although final details need to be worked out.

Peter Bee, the village counsel, said Millbrook also plans to pay a $354,698 community benefit fee and approximately $535,000 in Building Department fees.

He also said that the necessary building permits must be acquired within one year and construction be “substantially completed” within three years.

“The only change in the agreement has to do with the details that have to be worked out with the shuttle idea,” Joe Gill, the village clerk-treasurer said, adding that it is intended  to reduce congestion and attract tenants working in the city.

One resident of Millbrook Court raised concerns about the tightness of the project, asked if it’s “reasonable” and said the construction process would be “not so nice for people that live there.”

Deputy Mayor Bart Sobel said the board’s jurisdiction is primarily to ensure conformity with the village code and that it can’t tell Millbrook what to do with the property.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to be different, but nicer,” Mayor Pedram Bral said.

Robert Barbach, the village building superintendent, added that it is in the property owner’s best interest to make Millbrook an ideal place to live.

Andy Kraus, a spokesman for North Shore Millbrook LLC, said the developers are pleased to have the village approve their plans and that they “look forward to investing in this community and taking an active role in revitalizing the Middle Neck Road corridor, which has been a key priority of the village.”

Additionally, Kraus said the developers hope to begin pre-construction work in the fourth quarter of 2018 and begin demolition before 2018 ends.

In unrelated village business, Mark Stumer of Mojo Stumer Architects presented plans for renovating the shopping center at 770 Middle Neck Road.

He said the plans currently call for the “clean up” of the “whole façade,” with the addition of wood detailing with aluminum tiles, glass and a roof terrace for a potential restaurant. It would also add about two stories to the structure, or about 3,094.74 square feet.

Daniel Kimia, a managing member of Lighthouse LLC, which owns the center, said its appearance hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

Kimia said he believes upgrading the façade will “be an asset to the Middle Neck corridor” and that current municipal parking can support the center.

Sobel said he’s hoping to see a “plan B with parking” in case.

Kimia said that while he believes the effect would be minimal on parking, he said support from the village would help the owners go through with the project beyond its conceptual stage and conduct a parking study.

In other village business, trustees opted to hold off on a proposed 40-foot long Essex Road pedestrian bridge project aiming to connect two parts of the village.

Trustee Norman Namdar asked if the project would in fact be $291,000 – to which Allegra Goldberg, a consultant on the project, said this would include the creation of a “rain garden” in phase 2.

Among the fees would be $40,000 for a landscape architect and $15,000 for a civil engineer, around $48,000 for a pre-constructed bridge, and even more for installing the bridge, Goldberg said.

While trustees signaled approval for the general concept, they said they wanted more details and time to review the project.

In other village business, Bral announced that the village hired Len Baron to become the village’s new building superintendent starting Sept. 1, replacing Barbach but keeping him as a consultant whose terms will be finalized over the coming weeks.

During the public comment period, David Zielenziger said he had a question, but Bral asked Zielenziger what “militantly religious meant” in response to an online article Zielenziger had posted.

Zielenziger said he didn’t think they needed to discuss it, but Bral said he’d “like to discuss it.”

Zielenziger replied that he thinks that Bral is “militantly religious,” before asking if the village could share more details about the new superintendent and why a new one was appointed.

“If someone else asks I may,” Bral said.

“You’re not going to tell me?” Zielenziger replied.

“No.”

“Well, why not?”

“Because if you think I’m militantly religious and my trustees are militantly religious, I don’t think you deserve to be answered on that question,” Bral said.

Zielenziger said he can’t argue if Bral refuses to answer, but added, “I think you ought to answer questions from any citizen of your village.”

When asked about what happened between him and Zielenziger after the meeting, Bral said he doesn’t have a problem answering questions and Zielenziger has the right to free speech, but that “he has to realize he cannot use certain terminology against certain people.”

Regarding Barbach, Bral said he has been an “amazing superintendent” but that with numerous projects on the village’s plate, the village found it would be best to hire a full-time superintendent.

“He’s been helping us with all the new projects and all the projects, but he’s here part time and he cannot be here full time, so we needed to hire someone who’s here full time to attend to the needs of the people in a more timely fashion,” Bral said.

Regarding Len Baron,  Bral said he is “very eager to start working in our village” and that he’s been a superintendent in other North Shore villages.

“He’s a very nice gentleman and we’re sure he’s going to help the residents get things done and help move the village in the right direction,” Bral said.

Baron has worked in building departments in the Village of Sea Cliff, City of Glen Cove and Village of Manorhaven, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Barbach is an owner and architect at Barbach & Associates, according to his LinkedIn profile. Barbach has also worked as the building inspector in Port Washington North and Baxter Estates.

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