2017-04-21 / Front Page

Mexican restaurant proposed for Seventh St.

BY RIKKI N. MASSAND

On Monday, April 17 an application to the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals for the former Feldis’ Florist location at 160 Seventh Street aimed at converting the store into a Mexican restaurant, as the lineup of what new Mayor Brian Daughney once called Garden City’s “restaurant row” continues to evolve.

The application is listed as filed by a Floral Park-based corporation, “160 Garden City LLC.” Its agent on the Building Department records is Sergio DeCiantis, owner of Cara Mia Restaurants, Fine Italian cuisine with two locations; Seaford and Queens Village. He is also co-owner of Park Place Restaurant & Bar, bordering Stewart Manor and Garden City at 41 Covert Avenue in Floral Park.

DeCiantis’ application asks the village ZBA for variances to permit a change of use from retail to restaurant: “The proposed use is not expressly permitted in the C-2 zone but is identical to the existing uses. There are many restaurants in the C-2 district and many which have received variances.”

In its second weekly update section for The Garden City News, which replaces the Mayor’s Column, the Village of Garden City included for the April 14 edition a paragraph on “Changes to T-Zone.”

“The Garden City Chamber of Commerce has suggested and requested that the Board of Trustees remove certain commercial zoning restrictions within the T-Zone area, which primarily includes Seventh Street and Franklin Avenue, which are located in the C-2 District. The proposed changes would no longer require Zoning Board of Appeals approval when a request is made for a storefront to become a restaurant. The Legal Committee of the Board of Trustees is working with Counsel to draft appropriate changes to the Zoning Code. Any changes would not affect residential zoning. A public hearing will be held in regards to this matter on a date to be determined.”

Kevin Walsh of Seventh Street-based Walsh, Markus, McDougal & DeBellis LLC is the attorney for the new restaurant application. In a February 28 letter he sent to Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Chairman Robert Cunningham, Walsh detailed the request for a variance expressing a need for an additional 18 parking spaces with the proposed restaurant’s operations and dimensions.

“There are many restaurants in the C-2 districts. Although many of their patrons are anticipated to be Garden City residents who will likely walk to and from the restaurant during the day, when the municipal lot is at peak demand, there is also a parking variance needed for (18) spaces,” Walsh wrote along with the application documents.

Allowable space usage comes for approval, as the total proposed occupied area of the 5,504-square foot parcel (the property’s footprint) would equal 4,539 square feet, exceeding the code and requiring a variance. The village has a permitted area for the space of 4,128 square feet, calculated by the 75% (0.75) floor area ratio, or FAR. Each of the village’s zoned districts has a FAR which, when multiplied by the lot area of the zoning lot, produces the maximum amount of floor area allowed on that zoning lot. Architecture firm Combined Resources Consulting and Design, Inc. of 950 Franklin Avenue provided scaled drawings and blueprints for the ZBA application.

The proposed floor area ratio, on the first floor and cellar combined, would cover 82% (.82) of the 5,504 square footage. The Mexican restaurant’s first floor, as proposed for the Zoning Board’s consideration on April 17, would allow for a 903.6 square foot occupied area of the total 3,346 square feet on the first floor.

The florist’s store has an existing staircase to the basement and the application called for using 1,193 square feet below ground. Two storage areas, one of 80 square feet and one of 50 square feet, would be in the basement with a 749.3 square-foot “occupied and preparation area” or “kitchen prep” void of any cooking downstairs. A utility area of 47.5 square feet would also be below ground.

Within the last two years, just a few doors down (right and left) of 160 Seventh have brought in new variety. Go Greek opened up at 180 Seventh and last year, Food for Thought expanded at and opened a full service café with healthy to-go items. They are relative newcomers to stalwarts in Leo’s Midway restaurant and Walk Street at 176 Seventh, starting at the southern stretch of the block, from Franklin Avenue heading east, continuing past Bagelman, the Burger Spot and all the way down to Seventh Street Café and the Seventh Street Gourmet Deli. Around the Franklin Avenue corner restaurants are condensed, from Garden City Pizza up to Prost Grill and Garten lining the railroad tracks. But all the businesses, with supermarkets and caterers, two dry cleaners, banks Starbucks, TCBY, and the increasing number of sit-down restaurants share village parking Field 7S, which has received much attention for cleanliness and road repairs by the Department of Public Works and Village Administrator Ralph Suozzi. He’s met with Seventh Street merchants and discussed their needs for the back lots since 2015. The Chamber of Commerce has done the same, as Executive Director Dennis Donnelly, a former village trustee, has long been an advocate for settings and aesthetics improvements in the downtown of Garden City.

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