By Phil Corso
Construction has begun at the site where the Scobee Diner once thrived on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck.
The former site of the bustling diner has been transformed with wooden fences surrounding the property to make way for a two-story commercial building, at 252-29 Northern Blvd., that will include a Citi Bank on the first floor and a dentist’s office on the second.
Community Board 11’s Zoning Committee approved a variance by a 24-18 vote in June that would move the parking lot toward the back of the property and relocate a bus stop near the old diner.
A committee report said driving patterns going into and out of the 17-spot parking lot will change with two new lanes entering Little Neck Parkway and exiting onto Northern Boulevard to accommodate a drive-thru window for the incoming bank. The lot will also have one handicapped space, the report said.
CB 11 records also outline plans to move the QM3 bus stop near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Little Neck Parkway further east, closer to that intersection. The zoning committee had initially come out against drastic changes to the parking lot with concerns over safety.
“Committee members and residents voiced strong safety concerns about two drivers being able to exit onto Northern Boulevard simultaneously,” the board’s committee report said. “In addition, they expressed concern about site employees parking in the lot, leaving customers and clients to fend for themselves for paid parking.”
But the board’s committee report said traffic engineer Matt Carmody of VHB Engineering had conducted a study at the former diner site and concluded that the plans would improve traffic safety after the construction is complete.
Board members also said future employers at the site were encouraged to hire between 20 and 30 of their workers locally to help alleviate substantial traffic and parking issues.
Scobee Diner closed in 2010 after its owners said rising rent costs took a strong toll on finances. The building has sat vacant ever since and became widely known as an eyesore to passers-by.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.