The popular Riverbay restaurant may be closing at its current location in Williston Park sometime this fall to make way for a branch of TD Bank.
The transition from restaurant to bank on the property at 700 Willis Ave. depends on TD Bank receiving a variance from the Williston Park board of zoning appeals on a drive-through lane the bank has requested.
“If they’re successful, they would be here and I would not,” said Deal Poll, who owns the restaurant and the property.
Poll, who also owns the Central Park Boathouse, said his reason for making the move “obviously is financial.”
But he said the change has nothing to do with any downturn in Riverbay’s business.
“The restaurants’s doing quite well actually,” Poll said. “[TD Bank] made an offer and it’s worthwhile to lease it to them.”
Poll said he planned to relocate the restaurant to a location he is currently considering somewhere nearby in Nassau County.
He said the bank first approached him three years ago and the deal was struck over “quite a period of time,” while stressing that the agreement was conditioned on the bank gaining the variance.
“It’s a decision that was made on offers that were made to me and how advantageous it would be,” Poll said.
Attorney Kevin Walsh, who represented TD Bank at an April 17 hearing before the Williston Park Zoning Board of Appeals, said the conditional lease the bank negotiated could go into effect this fall if the variance for a drive-through lane is granted.
“Our deal is conditioned upon getting approval from the village to put the drive-through in,” Walsh said in a phone interview.
George Meccariello, construction manager for TD Bank, told the board of appeals the bank had negotiated a 20-year lease for the property. It would occupy 3,849 square feet on the property.
“We would be breaking ground in the fall and then we’d be moving ahead,” Walsh said.
Walsh said there are still issues about egress from the site onto side streets that remain to be resolved with residents in the neighborhood.
“Some people said they didn’t want any egress on the side streets,” Walsh said. “The issue is whether we can create some room so cars don’t stack up in the parking lot.”
Walsh said the Nassau County Planning Commission does not want to permit egress onto major thoroughfares like Willis Avenue. Under the initial plan presented, cars would exit the bank parking lot onto Syracuse Street. Residents expressed concerns about the exit being in close proximity to a residence next door to the property.
“That was the only concern, where the curb cutout was going to be,” said Umberto Magnardi, a community activist who lives across the street from Riverbay.
Residents at the hearing also raised questions about side-street parking, a particular issue with Riverbay.
Rebecca Goldberg, a traffic engineer with Cameron Engineering Associates, testified at the board of appeals hearing that traffic from the bank “will not have any adverse impact on the Willis Avenue-Syracuse Street intersection.”
She said there would be 33 parking spaces on the property, less than peak demand projected at 18 to 22 spaces.
The bank’s drive-through service would be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hours on Saturday would be 7:30 to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Goldberg said there would be no “spillover” parking onto adjoining streets, and said on-site parking would decrease “significantly” during evening hours.
“They sound more than reasonable,” said Magnardi, who said at the hearing that the bank would likely be a better neighbor.
“Riverbay hasn’t been a particularly good neighbor from my point of view, not only for parking, just for the litter and overall problems, the noise at night, so I think the bank will be a huge improvement,” he said.
Poll said Riverbay has been a landmark in Williston Park for 33 years, but acknowledged there was a “chronic problem there” with parking issues.
“If I lived there, I’d rather have a bank there than Riverbay,” Poll said.