Multiple businesses seeking to open in Great Neck Plaza faced holdups in securing permits earlier this month with the board of trustees citing issues including taking over a culturally significant building, working with neighboring businesses and noise.
Some found resolution when those sought-after permits were granted Wednesday night. Others will continue working to seek them.
Lounge X LLC is seeking to establish an event space with golf simulators at the former Squire Theater. In prior presentations to the board, owner Kenix Wang said the lower floor will have event spaces with a café area open to the public, and the second floor will house the GolfZon golf simulators and an open putting green space.
“We believe that it has the potential to attract many people into our downtown,” Mayor Ted Rosen said, “which is a very important objective that this board has and which all residents of Great Neck Plaza and the greater Great Neck community can share in seeing that it happens.”
Lucy Yu, the former owner of the theater, said at a prior meeting that the theater had been open for four years and struggling to make a profit. She said their efforts to maintain the theater failed as they were still paying bills and taxes that were becoming too much to handle.
The board opted to approve Lounge X’s conditional-use permit to establish the entertainment facility but expressed conditions for the permit in order to aid in appeasing the community’s concerns.
“This is a very important application,” Rosen said, before reading the entire conditions of the permit for transparency with the public.
Members of the public previously expressed concerns with the new golf entertainment facility washing away the local historical significance of the theater, including Janet Esagoff, founder of Destination Great Neck.
“The Squire name is something you should utilize. You’re missing an opportunity,” Esagoff said at the Nov. 1 meeting. “It has such an appeal. You know Great Neckers, no matter what community they’re from, whether it’s a Chinese community or the Persian community or any community. They want to believe in this entity. And they’re very picky and they’re very discerning. And if you capitalize on the Squire’s name, I think you’ll find that it’s a very good return on your investment.”
The permit issued does not address the business’ signage, which is approved through a separate permit they will apply for after the fact.
Resident Perry Habib asked if the name of the business would remain the same, preserving the Squire Theater signage.
Rosen said it is still an “open question” whether the new business owners will preserve the name, but that the board has expressed its desire for the sign to be maintained.
Habib also asked if the theater’s marquee sign would be preserved. Rosen confirmed that the marquee will stay in place, rebuilt and possibly with an updated digital sign, but will be subject to the separate application to be approved by the board later.
“We’re not there yet,” Rosen said.
Another prior concern from residents was whether or not Lounge X had consulted with neighboring businesses, specifically the Gold Coast Arts Center, on how they would coexist. Wang previously told the board that he spoke with the center briefly but would continue lengthier conversations.
Resident Jeffrey Schwartz asked for a follow-up on these conversations about the businesses sharing the utilization of common spaces Wednesday night.
Rosen said the two businesses had conducted further discussions privately but he was not aware of an agreement. He said the permit issued that night was not conditional on their agreement.
Another business that faced hold up in securing a permit was Long Wellness Medical, a medical care facility and spa focused on cosmetics and skincare to be at 1 Bond St. Unlike Lounge X, Long Wellness Medical was not issued a permit as the board continued to have unanswered questions.
Corina Wong, a resident of Great Neck Plaza seeking to open Long Wellness Medical, said she is a certified physician’s assistant. She is partnering with her sister-in-law, who is a certified medical doctor, to open the medical and spa facility.
Wong said the services of the facility will range, including cosmetic procedures like botox and hair removal, medical treatments and services, spa treatments and skincare retail – a new aspect of the business the board requested to adapt to the predominantly retail-oriented space they are planning to open in.
Wong said she also changed the name to Long Wellness Medical Spa to signal a focus on cosmetics, not just general medical services.
As some medical treatments will be offered at the facility, the board questioned whether or not the facility could just be operated by a physician’s assistant and if it is necessary that the doctor be present at all times on the premises. Wong said the doctor is anticipating to be a part-time employee.
Despite a resident reading from state laws saying that it is permitted and Wong affirming that she can open the facility as a physician’s assistant, the board did not receive any evidence prior that answered their question and wanted to conduct more research.
Due to the unanswered question, the board opted to not make a decision on issuing the permit. The discussion will continue at the village’s next board of trustees meeting.
The third business that faced challenges securing a permit earlier this month was a proposed event space at 3 Bond St., but withdrew its application prior to the meeting Wednesday night.
The unnamed space on Bond Street was proposed to be open for private events, like birthday parties, business events and other similar events. The board and residents expressed concerns over noise in what Trustee Michael DeLucia called an “unconventional use of space.”
Despite the struggles of the three businesses, with one coming to a resolution, two other new businesses sought conditional use permits Wednesday night and were granted them by the board.
These two businesses were Northeast Medical Practice at 17 Maple Drive and Mr. Keke Ramen at 69 Middle Neck Road.
Northeast Medical Practice, a primary care medical office, is operated by William Berger, a licensed medical doctor for internal medicine. Berger said he is taking over the space which was previously operated as a doctor’s office by Allan and Maxine Fried for about 30 years.
While Berger is now occupying the space of the Frieds’ former practice, he said he is not taking over their practice.
Mr. Keke Ramen is a proposed new restaurant in the village that will be offering ramen, dim sum and hot pot.
“Looks delicious,” DeLucia said.
The Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees will convene again on Dec. 6.