Great Neck board approves plans for mixed-use development on Middle Neck Road

Robert Pelaez
A proposed building with a first floor separated into three retail spaces and the two upper levels dedicated to 10 apartments was presented at Tuesday night's board meeting. (Photo courtesy of Raymond Chen Architects)

The architectural plan for a proposed Middle Neck Road mixed-use development was unanimously approved by the Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees.

523-31 Middle Neck Road is currently a one-story commercial building that has been vacant for over a year.  

The plans propose a 36-foot-tall building with a first floor allocated for three retail spaces and the two upper levels dedicated to 10 apartments. The building will also have a cellar for storage, seven parking spaces, and a residential terrace on the roof.

“We believe that what we have presented here appropriately accommodates the village building code and the desires of the residents,” attorney Paul Bloom said. “We have updated our environmental, traffic, and safety studies, and all have been approved by the county.”

Bloom, of Harras, Bloom, and Archer LLP, presented the updated proposal to the board and public on behalf of the property owner Steven Wu Kuo of Silver Lake Realty Group.

According to the plans, there are 4,049 square feet allocated to the three spaces on the main floor for retail.  While no specific businesses were mentioned to occupy the retail space, Bloom said mostly service-type operational stores will be able to survive in these locations.

“Shoe stores or dress shops will most likely not be able to survive in this type of storefront,” Bloom said.

According to the plans, of the 10 bedrooms in the apartment, eight will be two-bedroom apartments and two will be one-bedroom apartments.  Renderings of the building drawn by the project’s architect Raymond Chen, show a small seating area for residents to eat and converse with others, a refreshing aspect to the public.

“I really like this project and the flexibility the owner has shown,” one resident said. “The project certainly looks like it will be a welcome addition to the community rather than the old storefronts.”

Jean Pierce, who claimed she is normally against proposed developers coming into the area, said on Tuesday she appreciated the transparency from the owner and developer.

“This developer came in with a vision, said what he wanted to do, showed what he wanted to do, we had discussions, and I think this is one developer we should say ‘yes’ to,” she said.  “I don’t like incentives when money changes hands. Why don’t we just use compromise as this gentleman has.”

Village Mayor Pedram Bral, who has supported the idea since its’ first presentation in July, explained the need for a mixed-use development in a new consumer-driven and technologically advanced environment.

“Projects like these are examples of the benefits that mixed-use developments bring to a community,” Bral said. “In this new age of retail, the commercial cannot stand to subsidize building costs alone.”

A discourse between the board and residents interrupted a previous mixed-use presentation on several occasions, with people imploring Bral to have their questions be heard in regards to the developments.

Bral informed the public on several occasions that questions could not be fielded during the first presentation, as there was nothing to approve. 

Questions regarding the proposed development at 523-31 Middle Neck Road were allowed since the owner and developer were seeking approval on their plans, which they received.

According to the board, the next steps for Kuo are to have all of the plans and studies approved once more by the county before seeking a permit for demolition of the existing commercial building.

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