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This building at 299 Main Street, at the corner of Shore Road, is scheduled to undergo major renovations. The two adjoining structures -The Red Door and the garage, are scheduled for demolition.

Plans have been presented to the Village of Baxter Estates Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for the renovation of the building at 299 Main Street and adjacent structures. The building's owner, Patrick Consalvas, and his architects presented their proposal for a renovation of the main building, located at the northwest corner of Main Street, and demolition and replacement of the garage structure at the rear of the main building, as well as the building at 305 Main, currently occupied by The Red Door, an antiques shop.

Variances were required because the new development (1) exceeds the maximum number of apartments allowed for the lot size, (2) exceeds the permitted lot coverage of 55 percent, (3) does not satisfy the minimum requirement for on-site parking garage space, (4) includes apartments having less than the minimum required 700 square feet of habitable floor area, and (5) exceeds the maximum of four residential units permitted in a multi-use building. Notaro Group & Associates, architects, noted that the existing building is nonconforming, and is presently used for residential and commercial. The current plans call for 14 rental apartments (down from 16 put forth in the original plan) with nine off-street parking spaces.

Many community residents expressed concerns about preserving Port's heritage-the building in question was constructed in 1912. The board heard testimony from Ezra Delaney, a member of the village's Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC), and read into the record a letter from Chairman Peter Salins. Both expressed the view of the commission that the main building adds historic, aesthetic and architectural value to the community, and should be preserved. Peggy Baer, owner of The Red Door and president of the Harbor Association, in a letter to the mayor, board of trustees, and board of zoning appeals, wrote regarding the structure occupied by her business, "The building, built in 1902, has an interesting history and adds charm and character to the area....it is part of the old Harbor heritage of Baxter Estates and Port Washington." She encouraged the village to consider renovating rather than demolishing that building. Baer also noted that the demolition (now scheduled for May) is the worse time for her business to be closed. She pointed out that April through October is the best season for arts and antiques, and that a number of street fairs and other events are typically scheduled for this period.

According to information given to the Port News, the BZA granted the variances based on the "reduced scope" plans, enabling the applicant to proceed to apply for building and demolition permits, with certain provisos. Chief among these is the need for the LPC to review the plans. Interior renovation can proceed in the main building, but the BZA is requiring that the applicant submit any plans for alteration or demolition of the Red Door structure or the garage, as well as the exterior facades of the main building, to the LPC for approval. The BZA will look at the decision(s) of the LPC, but will retain jurisdiction to render a final decision. The board also stipulated that the applicant shall make a good faith effort to secure permission from the Town of North Hempstead (TONH) for the tenants to use the abutting town parking lot for overnight parking, and for continued direct vehicular access from the subject premises to the town parking lot.

According to the BZA transcript, at the urging of TONH Supervisor Jon Kaiman the village submitted plans to the Town Department of Buildings, Planning and Economic Development to consider how the application fits in with the visioning plan. In a letter dated November 22, 2005, then-Commissioner David Wasserman expressed opposition to the plans. According to the BZA transcript, the Nassau County Planning Commission subsequently recommended that the board approve the application with certain conditions. (The Port News was unable to confirm this with the town, and the village was not able to locate any document putting forth the latter decision.)

In other developments on Main Street, the long-vacant strip between Irma and Herbert across from the railroad station has begun to fill up with retail establishments. Last year Sam Suzuki of The Vintage Group told the Port News that he was "not encouraged" by the informal feedback he had gotten from the town with regard to the concept of a new, mixed-use development at that location, and so planned either to lease or sell the building. (We were not able to reach Mr. Suzuki for comment for this article, but there is a "For Rent" sign for the other vacant storefronts listing The Vintage Group's telephone.) The Diamond Boutique, a jewelry store, has opened up at 79 Main. At 69, partners Ed Donnellan, CPA and Andy Fradelakis, CPA have opened the Tax Shoppe. Donellan said that they offer a complete range of tax and financial services for individuals and small businesses, including tax preparation, financial planning, accounting and bookkeeping services, and so-forth. In response to our query, he assured the Port News that theirs is a year-round business, not a seasonal one. The Bank of New York (formerly Fleet Bank) is still on the corner of Irma. The Port Main Fish store, which never relocated, remains open for business at 71.

Down the street at 83 Main, Brother's All Grocery is undergoing major renovations, including the addition of a deli. According to the new owner, who is the nephew of the original owner, this popular food store will reopen in a few weeks.

The Port Washington News will continue to keep our readers informed of developments in Port's main business corridors.


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