New details on Hub biotech park

Nassau County has issued a request for qualifications

Nassau County has issued a request for qualifications for coordinating the construction of a new or renovated arena along with housing and retail at the central Nassau Hub. (May 11, 2011) (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin)

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The Nassau Hub, home to the Nassau Coliseum and 77 acres of blacktop parking, could be transformed within the next eight years into a biotech campus featuring a scaled-down arena, county and business leaders said Friday.

Donald Monti, selected last year by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to redevelop the property around the Coliseum, said Friday he plans a $2 billion biotech park and mixed-use development containing established and start-up companies.

Monti, of the Plainview-based development firm Renaissance Downtowns, said he expects the property to be ready for construction by the fall. The project could take six to eight years to build.

While biotech would serve as the centerpiece, the development likely will include retail and other office space. The overall goal of the project, Monti said, is to connect the Nassau Hub with his ongoing redevelopment work in the Village of Hempstead.

However, the project still needs financing and approvals by the county and the Town of Hempstead.

"We see it as an entertainment venue and a research and development space," Monti said in an interview. "If housing becomes a requirement or a request, we would obviously entertain it."

Monti said the existing arena could be used for entertainment, sports and convention purposes.

"The plan is to try to see if it's feasible to work within the existing building," Monti said. "But I don't think anything is definite. I think all options are on the table to do what's in the best interests of the county and the taxpayers."

The future of the Hub property remains in flux following the announcement by the Islanders last year that they would leave the Coliseum in 2015 to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The proposal that Monti outlined Friday has elements that are similar to those in plans he unveiled in November, though he's now disclosed a price tag and construction timeline.

He said he expects to be able to unveil more detailed plans within the next two to three months.At a breakfast hosted by the Long Island Association, the region's largest business organization, Mangano said Friday that he anticipated a scaled-down Coliseum that would use the existing structure and continue to rely on surface parking on some of the property. The smaller arena could host family entertainment and college sports, Mangano said.

Mangano has asked Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner to analyze potential uses for the Coliseum. Ratner declined this week to comment.

Mangano said the optimal size of the arena "is one that is sustainable, will attract events and will fill the seats," though Ratner would make the determination.

Monti also said "minor league hockey and minor league sports [are] definitely being kicked around" as another potential use for the arena.

Monti's final plan will have to comply with Hempstead Town's zoning for the area. Asked for comment Friday, Supervisor Kate Murray said the zoning "establishes a framework for developers, making the approval process easier and the path to commencing a construction project much smoother."

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