North Hempstead approves Barnes & Noble site plan, third track project agreement

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The Town of North Hempstead approved a site plan and valet parking plan for the parking lot of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhasset on Tuesday night, gearing the property for a possible medical use in the future.

C&B Realty, the owner of 1542 Northern Blvd. in Manhasset, first considered converting the 30,483-square-foot retail space into a medical office in 2016 when the bookstore’s future looked unclear. The bookstore has renewed its lease until 2020.

Kathleen Deegan Dickson, an attorney for C&B Realty, said the Business A district in which the property is located allows for both retail and medical uses. Most of the interest in the space has been for medical uses, Dickson said, although there is no slated tenant at this time.

“Back in 2016, when this whole process began, it was looking like Barnes & Noble, their future might be a little uncertain,”  Dickson said Tuesday. “So in order to get ahead of the market, my client wanted to make sure that the property would be ready to lease if, as, and when Barnes & Noble decided to leave.”

In order to accommodate a possible medical use, the owners needed to expand the rear parking lot and receive approval from both the Village of North Hill and the Town of North Hempstead.

A valet parking plan was also required for site plan approval.

“The fact is that with that valet parking plan … we would probably be able to park more cars there if necessary,” Dickson said. “It increases the parking spaces from 72 existing to 89 proposed … And with the valet service, we’ll have parking for a minimum of 115 cars.”

The meeting had been adjourned from March 19 to allow the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations and Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey to learn more about the issue and allow for correspondence.

Richard Bentley, the president of the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations, said there was a concern that a medical space would only exacerbate a bad parking situation. The group’s main request was for valet parking, he said.

“There was no clear objection to that [plan] by the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations other than to have the town make sure … that they include a caveat it requires valet parking and that if the owner fails to provide valet parking, it would invalidate their variances,” Bentley said.

Dickson said C&B obtained variances from  2016 to 2018 from the zoning boards of North Hills, where the parking lot primarily sits, and the Town of North Hempstead for insufficient parking, parking stall size and loading area.

In other business, Town Board members approved an agreement with the LIRR and MTA that would give the town access to $4.03 million from a community benefit fund to assist with projects to mitigate the impact of the third track project.

Deputy Town Attorney Michael Kelly said the memorandum of understanding, in addition to allowing access to more than $4 million, will grant the town greater reviewing powers and underscore enforcement of warranties from 3TC, the design-builder.

The plan would also allow the town to use money from the fund for stepped up enforcement on illegal parking in the Carle Place area, Kelly said, and secures various other commitments from the railroad.

In exchange, the town will waive permit fees, have the town’s Department of Public Works and 3TC work more cooperatively, grant a license for the use of roads for construction activities and close a service drive road so a new one could eventually be constructed, Kelly said.

“We believe that based on all these terms, especially our access to the community benefit fund, that this is a good deal for the town,” Kelly said.

The Town Board also postponed a public hearing to consider an application from Remica Property Group to alter a service station at 570 Port Washington Blvd. due to an issue with publishing the public notice.

North Hempstead council members also voted to allow Atlantic Coast Dock Construction Corp. to construct a fixed pier and floating dock for Stepping Stones Lighthouse near Kings Point for $605,770, several months after the town hoped to have the dock completed.

The dock is seen as pivotal for landing equipment to repair the dilapidated lighthouse, whose origins can be traced to the 1870s.

“This is a long time coming,” Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said of the bid award.

Town Board members also approved a $500,000 bond resolution for heating, air, ventilation and air conditioning improvements for Michael J. Tully Park in New Hyde Park, as well as a $250,000 bond to go toward paving roads in the Beacon Hill and Bayview Colony areas in Port Washington.

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