The distant roar of traffic hummed across the open space of the empty parking lot of the former Sears buildings to the single-family homes lining Bay Avenue in Hicksville last week.
A proposal to build 425 apartments, a movie theater, fitness center, office space, grocery store, parking and retail space would fill in large swaths of that 26.4 acre site — after tearing down the old Sears department store and automotive shop.
The developer, Manhattan-based Seritage Growth Properties, will present its vision for a walkable, mixed-use community called Heritage Village at a public hearing on Tuesday. The hearing is part of an environmental review and is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hicksville High School.
“You want to be able to go have a meal, get a cup of coffee, go do some entertainment, go do your grocery shopping, go to the gym, all without having to get into your car,” James Bry, executive vice president of development and construction for the company, said in an interview. “We think that creates a very special place for people to live in.”
The apartments would be targeted toward millennials and retirees, he said.
Seritage Growth Properties was created in 2015 as a real estate investment trust to redevelop former Sears properties across the United States.
The company modified earlier proposals in response to feedback from the community and town, Bry said. The number of proposed rental units was reduced from 596, and a big-box store was scrapped from the plan.
The project requires a special-use permit from the Town of Oyster Bay to build a fitness center and cinema over retail spaces and zoning variances to build apartments at street level, to exceed height restrictions and to provide fewer parking spaces than required, according to the project’s draft environmental impact statement.
The town zoning code limits buildings’ height on the property to 35 feet, but the cinema building was designed to be 50 feet tall, and three other new buildings would rise to 40 feet. The zoning also requires 2,565 parking spaces, but the project would provide 2,335.
Several residents in the shadow of the proposed project said last week that they generally view the project positively but worry that increased traffic will jam their streets with moving and parked cars.
“It’s private property and they have the right to build whatever they build,” said Jimmy Shanley, 68, a retired postal worker who lives half a block from the property.
Sears had been a good neighbor, Shanley said, adding “the only problem you had was with cars cutting through here to get to Sears” or to Route 106.
Randy Mittasch, 58, an accountant who lives nearby, said he thought the project would increase the value of his single-family home.
“The supermarket is nice because that’s walking distance,” Mittasch said.
He said he’s worried about a repeat of traffic problems that arose in 2018 when the Hicksville parking garage was closed for repairs and cars whipped through the street, rushing to a temporary shuttle bus to the nearby Long Island Rail Road station that left from the Sears parking lot.
“I’m happy with them building something there, but it’s got to benefit everyone,” Mittasch said.