Baltimore developer's eye on Coliseum site

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

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At a mostly routine meeting in Riverhead Tuesday of a council charged with boosting the Long Island economy, its co-chairman dropped a morsel of news -- that he had succeeded in getting a Baltimore developer to renew interest in developing the area around the Nassau Coliseum.

Co-chairman Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, said during the three-hour meeting of the Long Island Economic Development Council that he had "solicited interest" from a developer in the 77-acre site around the Coliseum in Uniondale.

After the meeting, Rabinowitz identified the developer as The Cordish Cos., a privately owned company whose website says it builds mixed-use gaming and lodging, shopping centers, residential and student housing, sports-anchored developments and offices globally. Cordish officials did not respond to requests for comment.

"I approached them because they did interesting things in other places," Rabinowitz said.

The 22-member council and supporting officials spent much of the session getting updates from subcommittees created during earlier meetings to look into the Island's various strengths, such as its tourist industry and educational system, as well as weaknesses such as the high cost of living that forces many talented young people to leave.

Cordish first showed interest in the land around the Coliseum in 2005, when the first request for proposals was issued. Cordish bid on that RFP with Garden City-based Polimeni International, proposing a renovated Coliseum, along with a plan to consolidate county government agencies in one complex at the site.

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang won that RFP, beating out the Polimeni/Cordish team and other bidders with his Lighthouse proposal. At the time, Polimeni and Cordish officials could not promise that they would be able to retain the New York Islanders, saying in their proposals that it would be subject to negotiation.

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Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has spoken to Cordish about the site, a spokeswoman said.

Nassau is expected to issue a formal request for proposals from developers. "Cordish hasn't decided whether it will bid," Rabinowitz said. "It's just one of those that are interested."

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