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Council: Hub can find a biotech replacement for Northwell

Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development

Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council listen to co-chair Stuart Rabinowitz at a meeting in Melville, April 6, 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A council of local business, education and labor leaders vowed yesterday to find a biotech research institution or company to locate at the Nassau Hub after Northwell Health’s research arm dropped out.

“There is no reason to be pessimistic about the ability to attract another anchor tenant,” said Stuart Rabinowitz, co-vice chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which helps distribute state business aid. “We aren’t giving up on this.”

The pledge by Rabinowitz, who also serves as Hofstra University president, came a day after Northwell said it would expand its Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at its base in Manhasset instead of at the Hub in Uniondale.

The Feinstein expansion at the Hub, initially valued at $350 million, was to be a key element of a biotechnology park proposed by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in 2011. The Feinstein project, called the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine, would have sat atop one of two planned parking garages near Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The project was backed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with a $50 million grant in part because it would have brought 250 high-paying research jobs to the Hub.

Rabinowitz, speaking at a council meeting in Melville yesterday, said the parking garages would still be constructed. They are crucial to developing the 77-acre Hub because they free up land now used as parking for Coliseum events, he said.

Kevin Law, council co-vice chairman and president of the Long Island Association business group, said the council was reviving its Hub working group to help attract new tenants, including biotech companies.

He also noted that Northwell received $500,000 in state aid last year for a separate $10.2 million expansion of the Feinstein complex in Manhasset. That project, the Center for Advanced Engineering, would turn research into medical devices, and initially create 20 jobs, according to state records.

New Hyde Park-based Northwell is the largest private-sector employer on the Island and in the state.

Besides a biotech park, county officials and developers have proposed housing, retail and entertainment projects for the area around the Coliseum. In 2015, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center agreed to open an outpatient treatment facility that will have more than 250 workers.

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