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Zoning Board Grants Theater Green Light

Project to Be Screened by Planning Board Next

On Jan. 25, the Westbury Zoning Board of Appeals granted a zoning variance to Lowe Properties, the developer of the Westbury movie theater site on Post Avenue. The variance is conditioned upon the applicant’s construction of a parking deck over the existing village parking lot on Madison Street.

“The variance is consistent with the special use permit that the board of trustees granted to Lowe Properties in November 2009, and keeps the approval process moving forward. Design work is already being done on the parking deck and it looks as if that structure will yield up to 160 spaces for the theater and other uses that are contemplated by the plan,” said Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro, adding, “The planning board still needs to review the project, but they have already commenced their hearing, and I am hopeful that the process can be completed quickly so we can meet the target for the start of construction of the deck and the renovation of the theater in the spring.”

Ann Sweat, chair of the zoning board of appeals, said, “I am elated that this project can now move forward. Westbury is in need of the beautiful new theater that we hope will be a big plus for downtown.” Sweat indicated that the board had discussions regarding other parking needs but felt that “with the parking deck, we think that the other parking issues can be resolved. This is a ‘win’ all around and for everyone involved.”

No one is happier, perhaps, than Lowe Properties owner Cyrus Hakakian, who, after more than six long years, is steps away from seeing his vision become a reality. “We are thrilled and very excited to hear that the zoning board granted the variance we need to get our theater redevelopment moving forward,” Hakakian said.

The renovation of the theater has long been an issue for village residents, village government, the business community and the property owner. The main issue has been the lack of on-site parking for the intended uses, but the property owner and the village have agreed on the construction of the parking deck as a solution to some of the parking needs.

Lowe Properties presented a detailed parking analysis and plans to demonstrate that, with the new parking structure, adequate parking will be available during the mainly off-hours that the theater will be in operation. The special use permit previously granted, and the variance, both contain conditions that the theater owner must meet in order for the renovation to be completed. In addition, the owner and the village are parties to a Memorandum of Agreement that governs the project development.

The village board of trustees along with its planning and zoning boards, have each conducted many hours of hearings and meetings with both the applicant and the community. The planning board process is the final approval stage in the lengthy approval process, and will examine such issues as the design of the building, noise abatement, buffering between the theater and adjoining properties, lighting and other issues.

According to Cavallaro, “the redevelopment of the theater site remains important for Westbury, and all of Nassau County, and is a good example of what can be done to revitalize a downtown area with Smart Growth and innovative thinking.” The mayor continued, “I credit the applicant and Cyrus Hakakian, its principal, for being committed to working with us to getting this project done. His vision has been a driving force to moving this project from the drawing board to reality, even in these difficult economic times.”

This major step forward, said Hakakian, could not have been possible without the support of the village’s past and present leadership. “Retired Mayor Ernest Strada’s tireless effort and advice has always been a source of inspiration throughout our journey. Mayor Cavallaro’s and the board’s continued support and hard work have made this possible,” said Hakakian, adding. “With Mayor Cavallaro’s help, his leadership and because he tirelessly bolstered our dream, we are now one-step closer to seeing it become a reality. The village and all of Nassau County will greatly benefit from fruits of his labor … We are finally here, and with such a talented team, there is no stopping us now.”

The Westbury Planning Board is expected to take up the application in the next several weeks, according to Steve Corte, its chairman and village trustee.