Macy’s Development Plan Spurs Debate in Manhasset

A rendering of the proposed Macy’s Square mixed-use development Brookfield Properties wants to build in Manhasset. (Courtesy Brookfield properties)

Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks won over New Yorkers and viewers nationwide, but a plan by the retailer and a developer to transform a parking lot around its Manhasset store into mixed-use development is meeting very mixed reviews.

Macy’s, established in 1858, has grown to more than 740 stores including Macy’s Manhasset, a roughly 332,000-square-foot store at 1100 Northern Blvd. with brands including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Clinique. But a brand new plan by Macy’s and Brookfield Properties would turn the store parking lot into a $400 million mixed-use development known as Manhasset Square. Brookfield has more than 600 properties worldwide, 28 projects under construction and 175 retail destinations.

“Brookfield firmly believes that a new development cannot be successful unless it enhances a community’s way of life,” Brookfield Properties Vice President Aanen Olsen says. “Brookfield Properties and Macy’s are committed to working with community leaders to identify, understand and address the concerns surrounding the project.”

Manhasset Square would include 355 apartments, with the majority as one bedrooms and studios, along with a smaller, still-to-be-determined number of two-bedroom units. It also would include 73,400 square feet of retail, 72,000 square feet of class-A office space and a 200-room boutique hotel.

The project, which calls for 2,271 parking spaces above and below ground in addition to open-air spaces, requires variances, leading to a debate.

Information about the project was shared first with the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations at a special meeting on May 8 with a proposal to the North Hempstead town board “imminent” as of press time.

Olsen says apartments would attract young professionals who might later buy homes and older residents who would spend money at local businesses.

An online petition, launched June 20 and now with more than 1,200 signatures, seeks to stop the rezoning of the property from commercial to residential use.

Sandro Abballe in the petition said there is “too much residential development proposed” and “it will overrun the schools.”  

“Too much traffic already,” Darlene DiPietro says succinctly. “No rezoning!”

Plandome Road, Northern Boulevard and Port Washington Boulevard are already filled with traffic, according to residents, even if Brookfield can argue it will bring more revenue to Manhasset residents and businesses.

The petition indicates Manhasset’s population is 8,000, but 355 rental units could significant increase that number.

“People in town are sick of driving on roads with traffic moving at a snail’s pace even in non-rush hour,” Jacky Yung, a Manhasset resident, commented in the online petition. 

Daisy King, another local resident, in the petition says local schools, the library, pools and Northern Boulevard are too small to serve many more residents. 

“We do not want to sacrifice our children’s future and take any risk of downgrading the quality of the education,” King says.

The Brookfield spokesman said the firm’s “team heard the concerns raised about the project” and is seeking to address them. 

“Brookfield and our team have since met with civic leaders and are planning future meetings with community groups and concerned citizens to share the project vision and ensure that all issues are addressed during the public approval process,” Olsen says.

Joseph Braman, who grew up in Manhasset and came back to raise his family in 2004, isn’t convinced. 

“We are already overcrowded in our schools and Plandome Road is a nightmare every day to be on,” he said in the petition. “Please keep our town as lovely and carefree as I remember it.”

Emanuel Grillo wants not more people, but more amenities. “How about a park and some ballfields?” he asked. 

Brookfield is launching a website that will include ways for the community to ask questions and provide feedback. And community leaders interested in meeting with Brookfield can contact Bill Corbett Jr. at [email protected]

Jacky Yung, meanwhile, believes more infrastructure could handle more residents, but doesn’t believe that’s in the cards.

“If Manhasset has the budget to improve infrastructure (extra roads, more schools with good teachers and extra Long Island Rail Road trains), this project can be a possibility,” Yung said, adding without that, he worries about the impact.