Plans to construct an apartment complex at 777 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck are imminent, according to attorney Paul Bloom, who indicated that the development of a 44-unit residential building is allowed as of right.
“This property will be developed,” said Bloom, a former Village of Great Neck justice and founding partner of the firm Harras, Bloom and Archer LLP. “It will not remain fallow as it has for many years.”
A new proposal was presented to the Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees on Tuesday via Zoom teleconference. It is an alternative to a three-story permitted structure, calling instead for a four-story building with nine one-bedroom apartments, 31 two-bedroom apartments, four three-bedroom units, and 79 parking spaces on the first floor.
“It has been an ongoing process to try to develop a project that is not going to have a significant impact on the neighbors and the village, but actually be an asset,” Bloom said.
Brian Newman, director of architectural services with Newman Design, said that after listening to some of the comments at previous meetings the designers came up with a new variation, which aims to minimize the impact on Gutheil Lane and Middle Neck Road.
“We’re not proposing to max out the site,” Newman said. “We’re proposing our four-story building will only be 79,000 square feet. So almost 15,000 square feet less than maximum allowable square footage.”
The new variation of the proposal aimed to reduce the overall lot coverage and cut down excavation time by eliminating plans for any proposed below-grade parking, and moving it up to the first level. The amenities and apartments originally proposed for the first floor were moved up to the fourth.
Studies were also conducted according to state requirements regarding the environmental impact of such a development.
Michael Keane with Urban Cartographics presented the shadow assessment, a study that compares the times and distance shadows would be cast by the proposed development and the “as of right” three-story proposal, during June 21 and Dec. 21 – days with the most and least amount of sunlight respectively.
Rebecca Goldberg, transportation director at Cameron Engineering, presented a traffic study which was based on data collected from traffic cams in October 2019 during typical morning and afternoon rush hour periods.
“Traffic generation is minimal,” Goldberg said. “The highest numbers are 16 or 20 trips in an hour and that is the total in both directions at most.”
Goldberg said that while a project of this size and density normally requires 92 parking spaces, the developers are looking for a 13-space waiver, which she feels is more than satisfied by the proposal.
She also said no traffic mitigation is warranted.
But because of its location the site access must be on Gutheil Lane, Goldberg said, saying that Nassau County would not permit access to the building from Middle Neck Road.
Following the presentation, residents, including several neighbors living in the adjacent properties, voiced their frustration with the proposal and the impact it would have on Gutheil Lane.
“I live exactly next door to the property and I will have the driveway at my bedroom, I will have all the noise at my bedroom, and I will have no more garden or backyard space because of the shadows,” Cindy Zubli said.
Zubli said that she was frustrated that this was the first time she was hearing about the project and felt it prudent to arrange a meeting between residents and developers to address any issues.
“I think that would be a great gesture for the members of the board and the residents of that area,” said Mayor Pedram Bral.
Rosita Ebrani, a Gutheil Lane resident, said that her biggest concern was the potential increase of traffic on the cul de sac.
“It’s a tiny, tiny street full of children playing outside,” Ebrani said. “Right now in our street there are maybe overall 10 to 12 cars. Once the building is approved there will be ten times more cars.”
Ken Lee, a fellow Gutheil Lane resident, said that while he appreciated the latest update to the plan, it doesn’t help the adjacent property owners at all.
“Our basic concern is about allowing no extra cars into our street,” Lee said. “Why do you want to open a private dead-end street?”
Jordan Karmily asked board members if they could think of any examples in Great Neck where there was a small cul de sac with residential homes on it that has the full entry and exit into an apartment building on it.
“Most of the issues raised seem to be valid about the traffic,” Karmily said. “Any kind of pass-through street I would understand but a cul de sac has one way in, one way out.”
Bloom replied, “The property is going to be developed. There are going to be cars. There is going to be building.”
After hours of deliberation, Bloom told residents that he plans to work with them to do all he can to make them feel comfortable with the project. A Zoom conference meeting was arranged to be held following the meeting to address concerns from neighbors.