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Great Neck Plaza trustees hear ideas on creating affordable housing

The St. Paul's Church complex, pictured on Wednesday,

The St. Paul's Church complex, pictured on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, could feature 10 affordable housing units if developed into an apartment complex. Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

Great Neck Plaza Village officials want to add more affordable housing units and have hired a Manhattan planning firm to help offer suggestions.

The village paid the Regional Plan Association $25,000 to study how trustees could alter village zoning laws to create more affordable units. An official with the association discussed the study last week during a board of trustees meeting.

“Great Neck Plaza does not have a lot of vacant sites,” said Moses Gates, the association’s community planning and design director. “A lot of the buildings in Great Neck Plaza are actually overbuilt.”

Gates said the study has three overarching recommendations: First, the village should raise the minimum amount of affordable units that developers must offer in newly built housing complexes, from 10 percent of the total units to 20 percent. Second, the village should require developers to dedicate more residential floor space to the overall size of a property’s lot. Finally, the study recommends lowering the village’s average apartment size in new developments from 1,200 square feet to 1,000.

“Apartment sizes have become a little smaller,” Gates said. “We wanted to put that down to a thousand square feet, which lets a developer get more apartments and more affordable apartments.”

The village has not introduced changes to village code, but trustees plan to further consider the study at a meeting on Sept. 20. Ultimately, trustees want to encourage real estate developers to build more affordable units similar to what is offered in other village zones, Mayor Jean Celender said.

“We’re opening it up to other zones because we feel that there could be more units developed,” Celender said in an interview after Gates’ presentation. “The affordable units get filled up quickly.”

Great Neck Plaza, a village that’s one-third a mile in size, has seen its population grow from 6,707 in April 2010 to 7,003 in 2016, according to U.S. Census data. The village has 4,010 housing units, census data shows, and 3,636 of those are occupied. The association’s study calls Great Neck Plaza “the densest municipality on Long Island” and “currently the 11th densest municipality in the entire United States.”

The association’s study also mentions three properties where affordable units could be created if village officials adopt the suggested zoning changes.

One of those properties is the Great Neck Park District’s parking lot on Canterbury Street, which if developed into housing could generate 17 affordable units, but would need modifications for new renters.

“Any development for the Great Neck Park District lot would entail taking the existing parking and putting it underground or otherwise maintaining that existing parking and then adding on parking for the new building,” Gates said.

These three village sites, if developed, could host more than 30 new affordable units if the village adopted zoning law changes recommended by the Regional Plan Association.

  • St. Paul’s Church, 68 Grace Ave. The church complex could become a three-story apartment complex with 50 units, 10 of which would be affordable.
  • Great Neck Park District Lot, 17 Canterbury St. The district’s parking lot could become a four-story apartment complex with 85 total units, 17 of which would be affordable.
  • Medical office building, 23 Bond St. The office building could become a four-story apartment complex with 24 to 30 units, where five or six would be affordable.

Source: Regional Plan Association

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