Various worries about taking over a historic building, soundproofing and going against the grain of retail shops in the Village of Great Neck Plaza have held up the openings of three new businesses.
The applications have been adjourned to later meetings so the details can be worked out.
Lounge X LLC is looking to turn the old Squire Theater into an event space with golf simulators, while another to-be-named event space is requesting approval to operate at 3 Bond St. and resident Corina Wong is looking to operate Long Wellness Medical, a medical care facility specializing in dermatology, at 1 Bond St.
Kenix Wang, creator of Lounge X LLC, gave a slideshow presentation to show his ideas of what the Squire Theater might look like to life in front of the board and public at the meeting last Wednesday. Wang has gone before the board before to flesh out what the space will look like and how it will operate, noting the lower floor will be the event spaces with a café area open to the public, while the second floor will have the GolfZon golf simulators and an open putting green space.
Lucy Yu, the former owner of the theater, attended the meeting, saying the theater was open for four years and struggling to make a profit, but the effort failed as they were still paying bills and taxes that were becoming too much to handle.
Janet Esagoff, founder of Destination Great Neck, a volunteer organization dedicated to the betterment of Great Neck, said she wished she had Wang’s millions to invest into the property because she thinks he’s “missing the mark.”
“The Squire name is something you should utilize. You’re missing an opportunity,” said Esagoff. “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 board decided to hold the vote until the next board meeting on Nov. 15 because they wanted Wang to speak with neighboring Gold Coast Arts Center and restaurant Lalo on how the businesses will interact going forward. Wang told the board he spoke briefly with the center and planned to speak at length with them the day after the board meeting.
Daniel Ben-Jacob, who works in the entertainment business, said the unnamed space on Bond Street would be open for private events, like birthday parties, business events and other similar events.
Concerns over sound traveling through the village surfaced, with Village of Great Neck Plaza Trustee Michael DeLucia calling it an “unconventional use of space.”
“This is a party room that’s being planned to go into the heart of downtown,” said Mayor Ted Rosen,” which is in proximity to some residential units. Our concern is to protect the environment of the downtown, the other shops, the other people on the street, and the residents of that street and nearby streets.”
Rosen said adequate soundproofing should be considered because of past issues with amplified music sound carrying out from restaurants to several blocks away. Businesses need to comply with music conditions or they could be shut down, Rosen said, but it’s never the village’s desire to close a business but rather to encourage more.
The application was adjourned to another meeting.
Wong, another resident trying to open a business on Bond Street, has been a dermatologist for 30 years and already operates two other similar skin care facilities in the city but is looking to stay closer to home through a business in town.
Rosen welcomed Wong’s plan to start a business in the village, but argued strongly against the location on Bond Street, worrying it would set a precedent for more medical-oriented businesses to open in a prime retail location. Wong said she has already signed a lease agreement for the location and that she would have a retail aspect of her business selling facial cleansers and dermatology products.
“My concern is this,” said Rosen. “This is a prime residential location, is a major size storefront and to take it and to make it into a medical use has the potential of seriously impacting the character of Bond Street and the village. What happens to us two months from now, when another medical practice wants to come up further on Bond Street? There’s a lot to be said for medical uses not being permitted in downtown retail uses.”
Wong said when she was looking for a place to start her business she was originally leaning toward Middle Neck Road but was directed to Bond Street.
Resident Mark Wolf, who was a merchant on Bond St. for 50 years, said he disagreed with the mayor’s point about the character of the village being affected.
“This is something different,” Wolf said. “It has an appeal and by the way, it brings people who have money into town, because they’re willing to spend for her services…she’s trying to build a reputable business here.”
The application was adjourned to the next board meeting.