Daniel Livingston, president of the Livingston Development Corp., first visited Glen Cove in 2003. He fell in love with the Gold Coast, but he eventually came across an area he did not love, a four-acre strip of land along Craft and Ralph Young avenues that housed an auto body shop, an old strip mall and dilapidated homes.
Livingston said he saw an opportunity for development, and as he began buying parcels of the land, a long and bitter battle began between Livingston and local residents over his proposed plan to build the Villa at Glen Cove, two buildings consisting of 176 condominiums, on the site.
Despite Livingston’s successful defense against lawsuits in 2016 and 2017, construction of the approved project did not begin, as he argued that the market for condos had dried up. Last summer, he asked the City of Glen Cove to allow him to build an apartment complex instead, and add about 40 units.
Dozens of residents attended a pre-City Council meeting on Feb. 4, when Living-ston requested that the council not only submit his new proposal to the Glen Cove Planning Board, but also push for the city’s Industrial Development Agency to grant him additional incentives to build.
“After all these years, I still intend to give birth to this baby,” Livingston said. “I’ve already outlaid $32 million on this project. I am building this.”
At the meeting, Livingston and his attorney, Kathleen Deegan Dickson, explained that the new project would not be much different than the one the City Council approved in 2017. The most significant change would be the replacement of the condos with 216 rental units, most of them one-bedroom apartments. Livingston purchased another half-acre lot adjacent to the property from the Glen Cove Boys and Girls Club, which he is seeking to include in the development.
The proposal for parking has also changed, to include two additional floors in an underground lot and the elimination of a valet-parking system. Deegan Dickson said that the rest of the project would remain the same, with two buildings of apartments, an indoor pool, a pet run, a picnic area, a fitness center and a bocce court. Livingston stressed that the exterior of the proposed buildings would remain largely unchanged.
City Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews remained skeptical of passing the new proposal on to the planning board. Like many newly elected council members, Stevenson-Mathews ran on a platform that included a promise to halt more residential development in the city, which stands to gain about 2,000 new residents in the coming years with the completion of the Garvies Point, Village Square and Livingston projects.
“Forty additional units is the breaking point for me,” Stevenson-Mathews said. “I like development, but only when it’s smart and balanced. And this doesn’t seem like either.”
Deegan Dickson argued that it was the City Council’s job to automatically submit the proposal to the planning board, and then make a decision after hearing the board’s recommendations. Livingston added that the change from condos to apartment units would ensure the project’s success, because the demand for condominiums has dropped.
Mayor Timothy Tenke also expressed his concerns about Livingston’s request for aid from the Glen Cove IDA, which Tenke chairs. He previously stated that he did not want to grant any more developers payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deals in the city. When he asked whether the project could continue without assistance from the IDA, Deegan Dickson said it would have to be re-evaluated.
“The developer doesn’t want to build something that will not be successful,” she said. “That doesn’t do him any good. It doesn’t do the city any good. And it doesn’t do that neighborhood any good.”
The City Council planned to continue to review Livingston’s application this week, and to vote on whether to submit it to the planning board at the next City Council meeting on Feb. 11. If the council decides to do so, the planning board would review the project and hold a public meeting before making its recommendation.