Nassau 'carefully' reviews Coliseum ideas

A view of the Nassau Coliseum from the

A view of the Nassau Coliseum from the roof of the Marriott Hotel. (July 14, 2011) (Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas)

Nassau has received eight preliminary proposals and several inquiries about developing the Coliseum and its surrounding 77 acres after voters on Aug. 1 rejected a plan by County Executive Edward Mangano to borrow up to $400 million to renovate the aging arena, officials said Monday.

Mangano had asked private developers and others to submit their ideas and suggestions by Friday in hopes of preparing an official request for proposals for developing the county-owned property.

Mangano aide Brian Nevin said in a statement Monday that the responses were being "carefully reviewed" by Nassau's economic development office.

One response offers a revenue-sharing model; several "appear to revisit leveraging the surrounding areas as a means to finance a new arena;" others seek to develop without an arena; none would privately finance a new Coliseum, he said.

"It is disappointing that critics of a publicly financed arena have not come forward with the private dollars they touted; however, the county executive is encouraged by informal inquiries that indicate there is an ongoing effort to form an investment group to consider financing a new arena and surrounding acreage," the statement said.

Desmond Ryan, head of the Association for a Better Long Island, a real-estate group that opposed Mangano's plan, responded: "When a municipality can take 60 to 90 days to let an RFP for a road-striping project, it would be best to take a little longer than 10 days to provide a road map that leverages private dollars for the public good."

ABLI has formed a bipartisan task force to come up with proposals for "what is arguably the most important development project Nassau County will face in a generation," Ryan said in a prepared statement.

Developers were not required to submit a proposal by Friday to then bid on the future RFP. The county would not say who had submitted suggestions nor release their responses.

Garden City developer Vincent Polimeni said Friday that he wrote Mangano a letter "saying that I will be one of the bidders."

Polimeni said he did not provide specific ideas or proposals in his letter. But in an interview, he noted that he would likely propose something similar to his bid in 2005.

That proposal included three office buildings, some retail space, rental housing, parking, an open plaza and a renovated Coliseum, which first opened in 1972.

"It's 77 acres in an incredible location," said Polimeni. "If you can't do something there that would get any developer or retailer excited, you can't do it anywhere."

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