The proposal for the Bradley Hotel on lower Main Street, which was approved provisionally by the town board in April, is apparently dead. The requested change in zoning, after much public debate, was approved but with certain conditions, including a prohibition against underground parking. The developers said that there was no way that they could build a financially viable hotel under this restriction, and confirmed that they have put the property up for sale. Joe D'Alonzo, one of the owners and a third generation Port Washingtonian, said that there had been some expression of interest by, among others, a 7-11, but as of this writing, the property is still vacant. The site, on lower Main Street across from the Town Dock and next to the tire store, is currently zoned for a three-story commercial building. Another owner could construct "as of right," providing that they built to code.
The Port Washington News previously reported (August 24, 2006) that the owner of Main 415 restaurant, Erwin (as he likes to be called), had floated a plan for a small development along the waterfront which would have included a 50-room hotel. At that time, he stated that he was not prepared to submit formal plans to the town. He was awaiting, among other things, the outcome of the Bradley Hotel proposal. In a recent interview, Erwin said that for now the project is "on hold."
Town of North Hempstead (TONH) Council member Fred Pollack reiterated his position that he would like to see a hotel in Port Washington, but still does not think that the Bradley plans as presented would have worked, especially with regard to the underground parking. He said, "I am sorry that we couldn't work it out. I would still like to see a way to have it work out." D'Alonzo also expressed regret that it didn't work out, adding, "I think the town is the loser here. The hotel would have been a great asset to our community." The Business Improvement District (BID) has long supported the idea of a hotel, which would make Port Washington a destination place and would greatly help local retail stores and restaurants. Roy Smitheimer, BID president, said that he would still very much like to see a hotel here in Port. Neither Smitheimer nor Pollack knows of any current plans for a hotel.
The proposal for tiered parking on Main Street by the station is proceeding. Pollack said that proposals have been received in response to two rfp's (requests for proposals): one for a traffic engineering study to look at the traffic patterns to see if it is feasible, and another for a design. Pollack said regarding the design, "Parking garages run the gamut from the very ugly to the very beautiful but perhaps not affordable." He said that he is reserving final judgment on the concept of tiered parking until he reads the proposals and sees the results of the studies. "The community seems to be split about 50-50," he said. Smitheimer said that, although the BID has not taken a formal position, both the BID and the PW Chamber of Commerce have been in favor of a parking structure for a long time. In response a Port News query, both Pollack and Smitheimer said that they did not believe that adding parking spaces would increase the traffic on Main Street.
In an effort to improve traffic flow on lower Main Street, the TONH has bought the building at the corner of Jackson with the intention of constructing a parking lot on the site. This will enable the town to remove some on-street parking on Main Street in order to create a left-hand turning lane onto Shore Road. Pollack said, "I am convinced this will alleviate traffic on Main Street." He added that he expects construction to begin in the late spring.
The broader issue of many vacant storefronts and the general need to enhance our commercial district is being addressed by the town, the BID and the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with other groups and individual residents and merchants. Pollack said that the "overlay" district that is under discussion would, in his opinion, enhance commerce in Port Washington. He added that traffic and parking issues also need to be addressed, and said that he is looking at the current metered parking to see if some of the timing needs to be changed (perhaps made shorter in some areas and longer in others.) He said, "We need to find ways to encourage new development to promote this community with its wonderful restaurants, antiques stores, and other retailers." Smitheimer said that they are eagerly awaiting the report from Vision Long Island, the group that conducted a public hearing on the overlay district.
Smitheimer shared the information that the BID is a recipient of a $200,000 grant award from the New York State Main Street grant program which will be used on Manorhaven Boulevard (Manorhaven's "Main Street") to promote development of mixed use facilities. The BID is in the process of entering into an intermunicipal agreement with the Village of Manorhaven and will then proceed to contract with individual property owners. He commented, "We have finally moved from the planning stage to the implementation stage."