This is a drawing of the proposed expanded Lord &...

This is a drawing of the proposed expanded Lord & Taylor store in Manhasset. (Undated) Credit: Handout

Lord & Taylor cleared a major hurdle in its plans to expand its Manhasset store this week, gaining approval of its project from Town of North Hempstead council members.

They voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow the retailer to add 37,150 square feet to Lord & Taylor's existing 125,600-square-foot Manhasset building, which was originally constructed in 1941. The retailer now has to win approval from the village of North Hills on Feb. 9 for the portion of the project that falls within village boundaries.

Though the Manhasset building on Northern Boulevard is Lord & Taylor's best-performing location on Long Island, it is smaller than some of its other stores, including the Garden City store, which is 50,000 square feet larger, said Dominick Ponti, senior vice president of design, construction and facilities for the company, on Tuesday night. The whole focus of the expansion is to enhance the experience for the store's very strong female customer base.

"It's really to satisfy her," Ponti said. "She'll stay longer. She'll buy more. . . . It's about making her happy.

The renovation and expansion has been a long time coming, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, a Port Washington market research firm. Lord & Taylor sits along what is known as the Miracle Mile shopping area, surrounded by affluent communities, he noted.

"When you look at all the components and recognize that the purchase per square foot is really high and you have a very loyal customer in a spendthrift area, a customer who is very cosmopolitan and fashion-centric, and you package it in a small store," Cohen said, "this is a very underserved store."

The building has undergone renovations and had additions made many years ago, but shoppers have told the retailer they'd prefer the wider variety of merchandise on a par with the assortment they have seen in other Lord & Taylor stores, said Howard Avrutine, the Syosset attorney representing Lord & Taylor's Manhasset expansion project.

The retailer is gradually rolling out a home-goods department and plans to add that category to the Manhasset location as well. More detailed construction plans will have to be submitted to both the Town of North Hempstead and the village of North Hills. Avrutine anticipates construction will begin in early 2012 and that the store will remain open during the work.

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