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Developer Presents Plans for Knickerbocker Yacht Club Property

On Monday, Feb. 1, a group from the Cord Meyer Development Company, owners of the former Knickerbocker Yacht Club property, made a presentation to the Port Washington community concerning a proposal to build a senior citizen residence on the former yacht club site. The group consisted of a team of experts, which included traffic managers, financial officers, architects and was led by Mr. William A. DiConza. The presentation was held in the Landmark on Main Street and attended by approximately 75 to 100 residents.

DiConza began the program by saying that the property was purchased in November 2009 and that the primary purpose of the meeting that evening was to give the Port Washington community an opportunity to voice its feelings about their proposal at its inception. DiConza presented a proposal that would be in keeping with the recent zoning change, which created a waterfront district on Port Washington’s western shore and took great care in describing how the development would meet the requirements of the new district. Town Councilman Fred L. Pollack, who championed the waterfront district, was present and listened attentively to the proposal.

The next speaker was Mr. Anthony Morali, an architect, who began his presentation underscoring the need for community participation and the desirability of designing a building which recognizes and preserves the nautical architectural features of the former yacht club. He said that the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, believed to be the oldest yacht club in the United States, was founded in the 19th century in Manhattan, moving first to College Point and later to Port at the turn of the 20th century. The building is planned to be a mix of residences, approximately 42, with some commercial interests possibly located on the first floor. The residences would include two- and three-bedroom suites, ranging approximately 1,350 to 1,500 square feet. The property will have parking accommodations for 63 vehicles.

In a slide presentation, Morali pointed out that while the new facility would extend to within several feet of Main Street, it would have an unobstructed view of Manhasset Bay on either side of the building as well as a walkway to the bay, which could be used by the public. There are plans for a rooftop promenade with grass and plantings to enable the building to not only capture rainwater for future use but also serve as an outdoor meeting area for tenants. The tennis courts on the east side of Main Street are not included in this project.

A traffic engineer said the problems of traffic on Main Street would be mitigated since seniors do not traditionally drive during rush hours. He added by saying the site would provide ample off-street parking for the occupants. The following speaker outlined the financial study and the tax implications of the new building. The present market value of the yacht club was estimated at approximately $2.8 million and the new building estimated to be worth about $28 million for tax purposes. In effect, the taxes paid to the town will almost quadruple.

A question-and-answer session followed the presentation. The topics included:

Building Size: There were several discussions concerning the size of the building, which was labeled by one questioner a ‘monolith.’ While the height restrictions may require a variance, more seemed dissatisfied that the high building entrance on Main Street would come virtually right up to the Main Street sidewalk.

Marine usage: The dockage from the yacht club will remain and probably will be made available in a program for senior citizens’ use.

Flooding: The proximity to Manhasset Bay was the cause of numerous instances of basement flooding. Several members of the audience expressed some anxiety that the possibility of flooding would cause relocation of the residence’s vehicles, which in turn may cause additional street parking on neighborhood streets.

Project schedule: There is no timeline for the project scheduled at this time. When construction begins, it is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Eligible residents: Senior citizens were described as those 55 years of age or over.

Cost: The offering price was estimated at this time at about $660,000 with taxes and maintenance amounting to about $11,000 a year. Community bus transportation to shopping, the library and the train station are being considered.

At the conclusion of the meeting, DiConza thanked those present for their participation and assured the audience that Cord Meyer Development would keep them advised on the progress of the project in the future.