By Danny Schrafel
As plans to build a new TD Bank in place of a strip mall in Elwood move one step closer to completion, tenants in a shopping center set to be leveled to make way for the new bank are getting ready to start packing up.
At the Huntington Planning Board on Feb. 10, board members signed off on waiving vehicle stacking limits. Town code requires room to “stack” 20 cars waiting in line at the drive-through, but the plans accepted that night by the board provided room for 10. The board also addressed landscaping and sign concerns related the property.
TD proposes demolishing the existing 14,250 square-foot strip mall and building a new, LEED-certified 2,550 square-foot bank with three drive-through lanes in its place.
A resolution to grant site-plan approval to the project was expected to be presented at the planning board’s next meeting, officials said; that meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Melville-based attorney Keith Brown, representing TD Bank, said initial plans submitted called for code-compliant stacking, but research determines 10 spaces are “more than sufficient.”
Engineering studies of the three nearest TD Banks in Huntington Station, Commack and East Northport showed a “peak queue” of six vehicles and a wait of three minutes; most times, the line was 0 to 2 cars.
Brown added that town planning staff in September 2012 recommended reducing the stacking to allow for a wider, 50-foot landscaping buffer to allay a neighbor’s concern about the building’s proximity to homes.
Previously, in August 2013, TD Bank received variances for the project from the town’s zoning board of appeals.
TD’s Elwood proposal, which is expected to open in 2016, is one of several in the hopper for the firm. A bank at 460 Pulaski Road in Greenlawn is scheduled to open in 2015, and another on Walt Whitman Road in Melville is set for a late-2015 opening at the former home of the Rosewood Inn restaurant. A Huntington village branch opened in August 2013.
With final approvals near, tenants of the shopping center are getting ready to relocate.
Some, like Elwood Wine & Liquor, have already moved to other storefronts in the shopping center, but closer now to Elwood Road and the library. Tom Magden, owner of Mozzarella’s Pizza at 1957 Jericho Turnpike, says he’ll be doing the same in about two weeks’ time and hopes to be reopened in about a month.
Magden had previously said he found out about TD Bank’s plans to level the shopping center, in which he’s done business for more than eight years, by watching the ZBA hearing on TV.
After an Aug. 22, 2013 Long Islander News report on the TD Bank plans, he said the landlord, BLDG Management, soon became more cooperative, and now, they’ll be picking up some of the costs of his move across the shopping center. TCBY will also remain in the shopping center, he added.
Magden is taking the change of address as an opportunity to nearly double the restaurant’s size to 1,800 square feet.
Meanwhile, others have already packed up and left. Cozy Nails has moved up the road to 3021 Jericho Turnpike in East Northport.
But Magden said he’s relieved he’ll continue to do business just blocks away from where he lives – which, he said, is what he wanted all along.
“It’s my town – I want to be here,” he said.