Barnes & Noble demo plans now uncertain

The Island Now

Plans to redevelop the Barnes & Noble on Northern Boulevard in Manhasset were approved by North Hempstead’s zoning board on Aug. 17, but a company executive said the developer won’t be going forward with the project.

In April, developers began seeking approval from the town and Nassau County planning boards to convert the space into medical offices, and the project was approved as long as the site plan meets two conditions, including the need for a valet service as a parking solution, and an approval on designs from North Hills officials since the property overlaps the village, a town spokewoman said.

But in a statement on Tuesday, Barnes & Noble’s vice president of development, David Deason, said those plans were abandoned.

“The property owner was previously in discussions to redevelop the property, but they have told us that those plans are no longer being pursued,” Deason said. “We have a lease through 2017 and will work to extend as that time approaches.”

The property owner, C&B Realty LLC, proposed demolishing the building at 1542 Northern Blvd. to construct a medical office complex in its place, but the plans were slowed due to the need for parking variances. The owner proposed 89 parking spaces in the new design, but town code requires 165 spaces for use as a medical facility.

When the project reached the county level for approval, it was denied permits while information was gathered on how the parking variances would affect traffic on Northern Boulevard.

A North Hempstead spokeswoman said there has been no indication that redevelopment plans have stopped.

Attempts to reach representatives from C&B Realty were unavailing.

If the Barnes & Noble stays open, it will remain one of the few general bookstores left on the North Shore. North Hempstead has only three stores for general readers including the Manhasset location,  the Dolphin in Port Washington, and a Barnes & Noble in North New Hyde Park.

When the redevelopment proposal was presented to the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations, some members opposed the plan.

The group’s secretary, Susan Auriemma, said the required amount of parking spaces for the proposed use far exceeds what the site can hold. She also said that exiting left out of the lot is already difficult, and an expanded parking plan would only worsen the problem.

The council president, Richard Bentley, said in June that the project would have a difficult time being approved due to the parking variances.

“It’s an entire lot that doesn’t work from one end all the way up to the other,” he said.

While those behind redevelopment plans for the property have anticipated Barnes & Noble not renewing its lease next year, officials for the bookstore have remained confident that the store will stay.

The Barnes & Noble CEO, Ron Boire, said on Twitter in April that the store was not leaving town, and the company was working to stay beyond 2017.

by Chris Adams

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