Village of Great Neck Plaza trustees heard an informal proposal about transforming a nearly vacant Maple Drive property into a retail and rental development on Wednesday, which officials and representatives described as potentially “transformative” for the village.
Developers described the proposal for a new linear building at 16 Maple Drive, with 11 apartments and about 2,900 square feet of retail space, as one meant to enliven the downtown. They also described it as a sort of tribute to the late Jerry Spiegel, the founder of Spiegel Associates which owns the property, and his family’s dedication to the community.
“The reality is that we really believe the family’s been dedicated to improving the communities of Long Island that they serve and operate in,” said Jeffrey Wilks, the vice president and director of new business development at Spiegel.
The concept, developed by Mojo Stumer, an architectural design firm based in Greenvale, calls for a warm brick façade, wood to compliment it and a set back on the top of the four-story building to reduce its visual impact. There would also be balconies, a set back corner, and high-end glass for people to peer into the first-floor retail area.
Designers also said they changed the old design to be more linear and straight lined, so the project could be developed more quickly to minimize disruption.
“It’s not that big a piece – it’s an 11-unit building, it’s a very small boutique building that I think is in character with the village and yet is something that you would expect to see in a bigger city,” Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said.
Joe Yacobellis, a project architect at Mojo Stumer, said that “brain drain” is a common story for Long Island, with young families and people being unable to afford living there. But the development is aiming at this demographic, he said, and counter that.
“I look at my own situation, I look at friends that I have, and there’s a lot of excitement for this kind of work,” Yacobellis said.
Celender said the development has been on the table for a couple of years and gone through more than one architectural firm, before Mojo Stumer was hired just over a year ago.
Now though, Celender said, the proposal matches the board’s vision for smart growth and transit oriented development, while fitting in with the village.
“It’s a very handsome building and I think Mojo Stumer has done a very excellent job,” Celender said, noting it has a sort of SoHo feel.
While the trustees shared some concerns regarding parking – about 10 parking spots are currently proposed – Celender said the developers have been responsive to their concerns so far and they are looking into solutions before a more formal presentation in January.
“I think this is setting a standard for new development,” Celender said.
In unrelated business, matters regarding the respective 15 Bond St. and Plaza Gate developments were adjourned to the next meeting on Jan. 3, 2018.
Officials also passed an election resolution stating polls will be open on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Village Hall for voting in the annual election.
Trustees additionally discussed the possibility of installing a digital kiosk by the train station, but no formal action was taken.