A purely informational meeting, open to the public, showcased an initial concept for development of the East Shore Road corridor that lies within the Village of Great Neck. At the July 9 meeting, planning consultants, as well as marketing and feasibility consultants, concluded that the village's desire to ''reclaim'' the East Shore strip is indeed feasible. Concepts included retail space with apartments above for the west side, with a boardwalk, townhouses, condominiums, and rental apartments for the waterfront east side.
Starting off the meeting, Mayor Steve Falk explained that this was an information only meeting and that no public comment would be accepted. He did ask that comments be sent, in writing, to his office. It was not until later in the meeting that he stated that there would be public hearings. ''Please give this a fair hearing,'' the mayor asked, as he added the importance of ''cleaning up this entrance to the village.''
Unfortunately, the 200 or so residents who packed village hall were in no mood to be told they could not speak; and at first, it appeared to many that they would never be given any say. According to Mayor Falk, mailboxes had been stuffed with fliers claiming that a large public housing project was being considered for East Shore Road. Many of the angry, shouting members of the audience appeared to be convinced of such a plan. The mayor stated that not only would that be financially unfeasible, but that the developments up for consideration are actually ''too expensive for my taste.'' He stressed that ''we are not dealing with low income housing ... the property is too expensive.'' The audience did calm down considerably at that point, but many were still furious over the ''no public comment'' aspect of the meeting. And the explanation that public hearings would occur at some future dates came too late to appease some.
Planning consultant David Stollman of Fredrick P. Clarke Associates gave the first presentation, showing maps of the area. He said it is most important to preserve the views, and that there would be no tall buildings. His plan, he said, is ''very conceptual,'' consisting of 88 rental units for the west side of East Shore Road, with 20,000 square feet of retail space with 10 to 15 apartments built above the retail space. The east side plans call for a boardwalk along the waterfront, as well as townhouses, rental apartments and condominium apartments.
The Weitzman Group then presented a marketability and feasibility analysis of East Shore Road, having studied market conditions and economic feasibility. Among other things, this study addressed the ''high visibility'' of the location, the existing moratorium, rezoning, and the mixed use potential. The study went on to review marketing potential, and to look at the physical factor such as the good road access, waterfront location and views, and the ''Great Neck address.'' Property negatives include the mixed industrial and commercial uses, as well as the ''perceived image.''
The ''market findings'' for such development as proposed addressed the demographic and economic conditions, as well as both housing supply and demand and office/retail supply and demand. The study considered both primary (Great Neck) and secondary (neighboring and nearby) market areas.
After reviewing the population and households and the economy, the study did conclude that there is continued economic growth, though at a slower rate than before, and that the population is in transition, ''aging.'' It was noted that there is an ''affluent household base.'' Also studied were comparable developments and the demand for such building.
Studying housing, the analysis did conclude that a demand does exist for high-end residential units, and, as well, the report stated that the ''market supply is constrained'' and that with continued growth of households, ''demand will absorb new supply.'' And the analysis said that what would be offered would not only be desirable and feasible, but would be unique.
The East Shore Road development would target household incomes of $100,000 and above, focusing on ''upper level professionals.'' The median price for a townhouse would be $852,000 and the median price for a condominium unit would be $670,000. The development would target ''empty nesters and snowbirds,'' with small households. The development would stress the waterfront, the easy access, and the ''small town/pedestrian environs.''
The consultants agreed that the village could successfully zone to support such development and that a market does exist for this type of housing. The consultants have already been commissioned to do an environmental study, a generic environmental impact statement for the entire area to be developed.
In conjunction with the proposed development, the village will be creating a redevelopment authority that would manage the development. First, the redevelopment authority would issue RFP's (requests for proposals). ''This will be a public offering,'' said Mayor Falk, adding, ''It will not be done one at a time.''
Any member of the public wishing to study the report can do so at Great Neck Village Hall, online at the village's website at www.greatneckvillage.org or, shortly, at the Great Neck Library.