Editorial: Parking will be key to Hub's success

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) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

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The redevelopment of the Nassau County Hub will never be the success it could be unless it includes a parking garage. And the $10 million the county has requested from the state to help build that garage is, while ambitious, reasonable.

The 77-acre Uniondale parcel that holds the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum also sports more than 6,000 asphalt-paved parking spaces, a miserably low-intensity use for so much prime land. Building structured parking would free up 50 acres for additional development, but it will cost a minimum of $150 million -- and none of the recently evaluated plans for revamping the Coliseum, including winner Forest City Ratner's, included parking garages. That $229-million plan includes a revamped Coliseum and dining and entertainment venues, but comes nowhere close to taking up the whole parcel.

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Ideally, a single-developer project would have encompassed the need for an arena, other development and garages. Building and financing it all as one project, and under one developer, though, would be a massive undertaking; no such plan has been proposed of late.

Along with the Forest City Ratner plan, there is a separate proposal by Plainview developer Don Monti, whose Renaissance Downtowns has been named by the county as master developer of the Hub's non-entertainment areas, to build a research and development industrial park for high-tech industries. In order for that potentially important step forward to happen, the surface parking has to be replaced.

The state has created 10 economic regions that receive development funding, and the Long Island Regional Economic Council could have as much as $25 million in grant money to disperse this year. No project on Long Island is more important than the Hub, and putting a big chunk of the region's state aid toward it makes sense.

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