Hearing delayed on historic Great Neck Estates theater proposal

Great Neck Estates resident and village historian, Isle Great Neck Estates resident and village historian, Isle Kagan, stands outside the Great Neck Estates First Playhouse on June 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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A public hearing on a plan to raze the historic First Playhouse Theater in Great Neck Estates to make way for an apartment building has been postponed, after attorneys asked for more time to work out a traffic plan.

The hearing set for Wednesday night was continued to the Sept. 8 board of trustees meeting, after trustees received a letter from William Bonesso, the attorney for the owners of the property, First Playhouse of Great Neck Corp.

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"Our traffic consultant and the village consultant are still trying to figure things out," Bonesso said in an interview. "The board of trustees wants to make sure this project is going to generate the least amount of hazard for the local community."

A five-story masonry and cast stone structure with 20 units is proposed on the site at Maple Drive and Middle Neck Road. Retail stores would be included on the first floor, and there would be 28 on-site, ground-level and underground parking spaces.

Mayor David A. Fox, who has expressed frustration over delays in presenting a complete project plan, said, he's "not happy about" another postponement, but he said he is glad there is movement on the project proposal. "If we see movement that's the big deal," Fox said.

The theater was built in 1925 and was a stop for such Broadway notables as the Marx Brothers, Oscar Hammerstein and Irving Berlin.

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The hearing is scheduled for 8 p.m. Sept. 8 at village hall, 4 Gateway Dr. Brian E. Newman, director of architectural services for the Cold Spring Hills-based Newman Design, which is handling the project, said a detailed plan for the apartment building will be presented then to the board.

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