Since J.P. Morgan Jr.'s mansion was demolished to make way for a housing development in 1980, Glen Cove officials and preservationists have worried about losing more of the city's Gold Coast palatial homes.
The city's solution was a new zoning classification approved two years ago. The category would allow subdivision of former estates so homes could be built on some of the property while the mansion and surrounding land would be preserved.
Thursday night at 8 at City Hall, the City Council and Planning Board will hold a joint hearing on the first application submitted under the new estate preservation zoning.
The owners of Glen Cove Mansion Hotel and Conference Center, the former John and Ruth Pratt estate, are seeking to subdivide the 54.5-acre property to split off 17.5 acres in the northeast corner to build 46 single-family homes that would each share a wall with another home, making 23 buildings. The 1910 Pratt mansion would be preserved with no further construction allowed.
The entire property, owned by Montclair Hotels, is now zoned for homes on 1-acre lots. Without the rezoning, the mansion could be demolished and replaced by about 50 single-family homes, said Judy White, in charge of community outreach for Montclair Hotels.
"The goal is to save the mansion so that we don't lose it as another magnificent landmark on the North Shore," White said. The rezoning would allow the owners to preserve the house while getting more value from the property, she added.
Mayor Ralph Suozzi said that was the point of creating the new zoning category as part of updating the city's master plan. The city wanted to make sure Glen Cove Mansion, four other surviving Pratt family mansions and other Gold Coast structures would not be demolished to maximize the value of the former estates.
White said only a garage, which would be demolished, and brush occupy the 17.5 acres. Developers would try to incorporate some mature trees along the edges of the property into the layout, White added.
Montclair Hotels would choose a developer to build the houses.
If the city approves the plan, she said it would take at least two years to construct the houses, which are expected to sell for $950,000 and more. "We don't expect that there would be many schoolchildren," she said.
The home buyers will not have access to facilities at the mansion, and there will be a separate entrance to their homes from Lattingtown Road. The great lawn and the view of the mansion from Dosoris Lane would not be affected by the construction, White said.
The homes would go up behind the mansion and would not be visible from Dosoris Lane or Lattingtown Road because of the sloping terrain and landscaping, she said.
"Rather than leaving it up to chance," Suozzi said, "we're trying to steer it to a conclusion that retains the history of the town and respects the property, and also respects the rights of the landowner."
Pratt mansion's history
Here is the history of Glen Cove's John and Ruth Pratt mansion:
In 1910, John T. Pratt -- son of Standard Oil industrialist Charles Pratt, who founded Pratt Institute in Brooklyn -- and his wife Ruth, the first woman to represent New York State in Congress, built a mansion known as The Manor on a 54.5-acre estate at 200 Dosoris Lane.
After the deaths of Pratt in 1927 and his wife in 1965, the brick Georgian mansion became one of the first conference center hotels in the United States in 1967.
Known then as Harrison House, the mansion was also the setting for films including "North by Northwest" and "Sabrina."
In 1985, the property became the 25,000-square-foot Glen Cove Mansion Hotel and Conference Center with 187 guest rooms and suites and a 5-mile walking trail.
On Thursday at City Hall, there will be a joint public hearing of the city council and planning board on an application to subdivide the property to split off 17.5 acres in the northeast corner to build 46 single-family homes that would each share a wall with another home, making 23 buildings. The mansion would be preserved and no further construction would be allowed.