Maple Drive project developers address parking shortfall

Janelle Clausen
A digital rendering of the proposed 16 Maple Drive development, which would feature 11 apartment units and nearly 3000 square feet of retail space. (Photo courtesy of Mojo Stumer)
A digital rendering of the proposed 16 Maple Drive development, which would feature 11 apartment units and nearly 3000 square feet of retail space. (Photo courtesy of Mojo Stumer)

Developers for the 16 Maple Drive project presented fixes for a parking shortage on Wednesday night, which would restripe two levels of a municipal parking garage and eliminate one of the variances they would need to pursue.

The proposed building at 16 Maple Drive, as presented by Spiegel Associates and its team, features 11 studio apartments on the upper level with more than 2,900 square feet of retail space on the bottom floor. It would have what the developers described as a warm brick façade, complimenting wood, and setbacks.

At a December board meeting, developers had proposed having 19 spaces, with nine spots on site but without a handicap space. Now, under the adjusted plans, they would have 18 spaces, with seven of them regular spots and two of them handicap spots.

Joe Yacobellis, a representative of Mojo Stumer, the architectural firm designing the building, said they commissioned Cameron Engineering & Associates to try finding ways to get more spaces in the Maple Drive municipal parking lot to make up for the shortfall.

Yacobellis said they found that by installing more compact stalls and straightening angled spots, they could reclaim five spots on the lower level and four stalls above it while maintaining space to drive through.

“They came and they did a comprehensive study of the cellar and the first floor of the parking garage,” said Joe Yacobellis, a representative of Mojo Stumer, an architectural firm designing the building. “The main driving force behind this study was that this parking garage, I believe, was laid out in the early 1970s.”

There are also discussions about widening the entrance to the parking garage.

Christopher Prior, an attorney representing Spiegel Associates, said that while they are “clear” on parking, they will still need to pursue variances— or allowed exceptions to village building code – for building height, rear yard setbacks and lot coverage.

Prior said current code allows for a building to be 40 feet high, but that at one point it’s “47 feet and change.”

However, he said, the impact of the building’s height diminishes as one goes up Maple because of the natural incline.

“Our building height is different based upon where you’re situated on the property,” Prior said.

The glass used for the bottom floor, where people can peer into the 2,965 square foot commercial space, also has “the effect of opening things up,” Prior said, lessening the impact from having no setback.

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said it’s these kinds of mixed-use projects, spurred by the village’s embrace of transit-oriented development zoning, that will help create thriving downtowns and drive down retail vacancies.

“We believe this is all that needs to happen in our downtown to bring Great Neck Plaza into the next 20 and 30 years and beyond,” Celender said.

“I’m excited about it and I think I speak for the board, we’re all very excited about it,” Celender added of the project, “and it’s certainly come a long way from when we first saw sketches of what you were going to do there.”

The next steps would be for the Board of Trustees to conduct an environmental review and for project developers to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals again.

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