Rabinowitz: Nassau needs a downtown

Nassau Coliseum

Nassau Coliseum (Credit: Chris Ware)

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Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, is co-chair of the governor's Regional Economic Development Council for Long Island.


Surrounded by regional assets such as Hofstra University and Nassau Community College, Museum Row, Mitchel Field, Roosevelt Field, Eisenhower Park and class-A office space, the 77 acres that make up the Nassau Hub have the cultural, recreational and economic resources for a great downtown area. But they need a center, a focal point that draws people of all ages and adds assets to help the regional economy expand.

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A vibrant mixed-use development -- a model of smart growth principles including green technologies -- would propel our economy and add new dimensions to life on Long Island. The development should create office space for new entrepreneurial businesses, especially biotech, spurred by the nearby academic and research institutions. Rental housing could support these businesses, and attract young professionals, including graduate students and other new residents. The development should be a planned, walkable destination that includes restaurants, retail businesses and a downtown center similar to Reston, Va. -- where people come to shop and to dine, to work, to attend a concert, to play or watch sports.

A downtown area could complement the suburban character of the surrounding community and connect the already existing businesses, hotels, educational institutions, museums and government offices to each other and to our region.

A fully renovated Coliseum or sports arena could serve as the centerpiece of any Hub development; a professional sports team, along with concerts and other family-oriented entertainment, would attract visitors. While the future of the current Coliseum is unclear, a sports entertainment complex of some kind would enhance the overall site.

This area is critical to Long Island's economic future, and alternative ideas for its development are welcome. It's clear that Long Island is no longer merely a bedroom community in the shadow of New York City, but a region in its own right. Developing these 77 acres, and creating a cohesive, mixed-use plan for the Hub, will give us the resources we need to ensure that Long Island not only survives the current economic downturn but thrives for decades to come.

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