Even though the Hicksville Sears store’s lease is not up for a number of years, that isn’t stopping the property owner/developer from showing off what’s potentially in store for the 26-acre lot.
At the June 2 meeting of the Hicksville Community Council, Seritage Growth Properties—a company spun off from Sears Holdings Corporation that holds leases at many Sears retailers, including the one at 195 North Broadway—gave a presentation to a standing-room-only audience on its elaborate plans for the property.
Council President Harry Single welcomed several representatives from Seritage to the Hicksville Community Center, noting that the future of the Sears location is something that every resident should be taking an active part in planning.
“As most of you know, there’s been some talk about the plan for the Sears property, and we thought it was a good idea to bring the developers here to speak,” he said. “This is something that affects everybody here in Hicksville…Sears is a very big piece of property, and it’s actually the gateway to Hicksville.”
Dominic Minerva, an attorney representing Seritage, said that the plans being presented that evening were very early and would not be going forward until they are greatly refined and expendad upon.
“The proposal is for a mixed-use redevelopment of the parcel of land, including first-floor retail with two stories of apartments above. This is our early conceptual plan…there are two proposals that our architect is going to walk you through,” he said. “The entire property is in a general business zone in the Town of Oyster Bay, so we have one plan that fits within the zoning laws and another plan that has some additional benefits for the community that will require some variances and possibly some re-zoning. Again, we don’t have actual plans developed, just some conceptual sketches and images that we’re going to present to you tonight. We really want your feedback and will incorporate your ideas into the plans going forward.”
John R. Clifford, an architect with S9 Architecture of Manhattan, went over various concept plans and drawings provided by his firm, noting that the current plan is to give the development a small, upscale community feel in the middle of the hustle and bustle of North Broadway.
“As of now, Seritage has two early plans drawn up for the Sears property, both similar in nature,” he said. “The overarching theme of the project is to establish a Main Street feeling, set up in more of a village format with residential apartments and luxury townhouses combined with retail and parking and other attractions, broken up into blocks.”
The first proposal, which currently adheres to Oyster Bay business zoning laws, would encompass 308,700 square feet consisting of retail shops, a grocery store, restaurant, a fitness club and office space. In addition, there would be 318 residential units and 2,262 parking spots both above and below ground. The second proposal—which would require the passing of variances and changes in zoning—was very similar in the general layout and amenities but focused more on residential dwellings (394) and less on retail (292,700 square feet) and parking (1,962 spots).
Overall, the reaction to the early plans proposed by Seritage was that of ambivalence on the part of residents, many of whom were worried about issues that could affect their quality of life. Among them was Deborah Ann Kasimakis, a Hicksville native who said that making your opinion heard on matters such as this is the civic duty of every local citizen.
“I want to preserve my town…I don’t want a developer to come in and cause issues, although these plans are still years off from ever happening. So there’s still a lot of room for change, and the developer seems open to the community’s input,” she said. “However, it’s important to attend meetings such as these and to get involved in local development…you don’t have the right to complain about it if you don’t come and make yourself a part of the process.”
However, Fred Kleinsman, another lifelong Hicksville resident, took a slightly more negative outlook on the Seritage plans, saying that the development could exacerbate the existing problems many locals are already facing.
“We already have such terrible traffic issues on North Broadway, and there’s no way this isn’t going to make them worse,” he said. “I’m sure the retail and apartments are going to be very nice, but it’s just not the right area for such a development, right smack in the middle of a busy business area. It’s just bad no matter what concessions the developer makes.”
Currently, according to Seritage representatives, there is no timetable in place for the start of the proposed development; it could be several years or more before any work is undertaken, depending on the length of the lease that Sears currently has with the property owner.