The former home of Middle Neck Pharmacy could be transformed into a three-story mixed-use space, the owner of the building told Village of Great Neck trustees on Tuesday night, in hopes of filling a vacancy and making the property rentable.
Steven Wu Kuo of Silver Lake Realty Group, which owns the building, said the idea of transforming 523-531 Middle Neck Road is necessary for his company to recoup mounting monthly losses, prevent a permanent vacancy and “create something that will last.”
Early plans created by Raymond Chan Architects shows that the spaces’ two retail spaces would be split three smaller ones on the bottom floor. There would then be two floors of residential space built above it to support high “carrying costs” for the building.
In total, there would be 10 apartments, or five for each residential floor, with eight of them being two bedrooms and two being one-bedroom units. Atop this would be a residential terrace taking up half the roof area.
Kuo said that the company did everything it could to retain the now closed Middle Neck Pharmacy and HSBC, which is moving to Great Neck Plaza next month, including halving rents. Neither effort succeeded.
Because of the high costs and real estate taxes, few brokers and tenants have shown interest, Kuo said. Now there is “no choice but to reinvest a significant amount of money into the property,” he said, because the current rents cannot cover the $40 per square foot in carrying costs.
“Without this residential component or mixed use, as many successful buildings have done, we will continue to remain vacant like all the other stores along Middle Neck Road north and south to us,” Kuo said.
“The fact is, even if we were able to lease out the market space, the current rents would not cover our expenses each month,” he said.
Asked about the expected cost of creating the mixed-use building, Kuo estimated it as $8 million to $10 million and said the village needs to act quickly.
It would “not be making a great return,” he also said, noting that it would probably be better to sell and write off as a loss, but that he and Silver Lake Realty Group are “willing to put up the money.”
Middle Neck Pharmacy had been a presence on Middle Neck Road for more than 40 years, opening in 1971 and closing in January. It closed because the pharmacy could not afford the rent, the store’s general manager said last year.
Great Neck Village Mayor Pedram Bral said this was an “initial presentation” of a concept and he looks forward to seeing it be developed further.