It's been almost two years since the members of the Knickerbocker Yacht Club voted to close the club and sell the property at 433 Main Street for just over $3.2 million. The club with its waterfront views was founded in 1874, but declining membership and overhead costs left them no choice but to shut down.
Now, the new owner, Cord Meyer Development, is seeking approval from the Town of North Hempstead for an independent living facility for seniors 55 and over on the site of the former Yacht Club.
The developer is planning to build about 35 two- and three-bedroom units with boat slips and moorings provided. The exact number of units and the layout is pending zoning and site plan approval. It is estimated that the units will be around $600 per square foot.
Sal Panico, president of Cord Meyer, expressed his hopes for the development.
"We have been working with the community and Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington," he said. "Their input has been extremely helpful in designing a development that will both fulfill a need for 55 and over condos, public access to the water, and a design concept that will enhance the beauty and architecture of the waterfront."
Mindy Germain, executive director of Residents, stated that it has worked with Cord Meyer since March 2010 with the "goal of shaping vibrant waterfront living in Port Washington that will help boost our local economy, improve public access to the waterfront, aesthetically accent Port’s maritime history, fit the size and scale of the community and minimize traffic and any strain on Port’s natural resources."
She said that the developer's assurances include incurring the cost of installing a public waterfront promenade behind the complex. She also said that Residents is deferring to the town's environmental engineer regarding the developer's plan for a secure storm management system.
The developer hopes to benefit the community by filling a need for 55-and-over housing, now that the increasing population of baby boomers is downsizing yet hoping to stay in the area. The project will also create about 100 construction jobs over an 18-month to 2-year time frame.
Original plans for a possible hotel and retailers were scrapped because of concerns about traffic and waterfront access. Cord Meyer has attempted to create a design that will reduce the impact on traffic and allow access to the waterfront for the public.
The site will afford great views and will be convenient to basic services such as parks, the library, health care, shopping, and restaurants. The developers hope to create a design that is visually integrated into the surroundings and meets certain environmental standards. The plans include many "green" features such as underground parking, Energy Star appliances, and a photovoltaic energy system on the roof.
The planned building design itself has a nautical feel, preserving the history and character of the original Knickerbocker Yacht Club. Manhasset Bay will still be visible from Main Street, and there will be walkways for the public to access the waterfront.
There are applications for several variances pending before the Board of Zoning and Appeals, and the next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 16, according to a Town spokesman.