A proposed expansion of the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station is on the for discussion at tonight’s town Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.
The proposal calls for adding 10 to 12 new tenants, with a maximum of 72,000 gross square feet of leaseable space, on the Route 110 side of the mall. Groundbreaking would take place in winter 2012, with completion planned for spring 2013.
The Walt Whitman Mall LLC is requesting modification of a special use permit along with parking and landscape variances. The new stores would have 42,000 square feet at street level, with the potential for 30,000 square feet of second-story space in three or four two-level shops or restaurants, according to a renovation fact sheet.
The Planning Board has looked at the proposal and made several technical recommendations for the Zoning Board to consider when it decides whether or not to grant the special use permit and variances. Among them, the planning department staff recommends the mall increase the size and number of landscaped medians, a “green” design feature, to avoid having a “sea of asphalt” appearance and creating a heat island. The Planning Board must still conduct a site plan review.
The additional retail space will be placed only on the west, or Route 110, side of the mall, with the mall extending out 40 feet to create an exterior strip of stores accessible from outside the mall. The additions are expected to include 10 new stores and three restaurants.
No parking garage is included in the plans. Instead, the proposal suggests creating 400 new spaces by restriping the angled spots to straight parking spots; by reducing the dimensions of the spaces; reducing the landscaped area between the parking lot and Route 110 by 20 feet; and by parking over recharge basins after drainage wells are installed.
The plans do not include a food court or a movie theater. The existing mall is 1,139.7 square feet. The New York Avenue side of the mall would get increased landscaping.
A traffic study estimates an increase of 65-85 cars per day. It says a new light will be installed and the timing of the three lights on New York Avenue along Route 110 will be modified, working with the state Department of Transportation.
The interior of the existing mall will get a minor makeover as well, with new tile, storefronts and lighting, as well as a statue of Walt Whitman. New decorative lighting will be added at the entry areas, and there will be new parking lot lighting as well.
The proposal is expected to create from 1,000 to 1,500 construction jobs during the renovation, and 250-plus permanent jobs when it is completed. The addition is projected to generate $40 million in additional sales, which creates $3.5 million in sales tax and half a million in real estate tax.
In addition to the mall proposal, the Zoning Board also will hear six other variance requests at tonight's meeting.