62° Good Morning
62° Good Morning

Nassau Coliseum developer Bruce Ratner seeks more than $4.4 million in IDA tax breaks

Islander fans standing outside Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Islander fans standing outside Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on April 11, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Developer Bruce Ratner is seeking more than $3 million in sales tax exemptions and $1 million in relief from mortgage recording taxes from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for his overhaul of the Nassau Coliseum, agency officials said.

Ratner, who expects to begin renovating the Coliseum in the coming weeks, would use the $3.37 million sales tax exemption to pay for equipment, construction materials and furnishings, said Nassau IDA executive director Joseph Kearney.

"This is a step in the process of the rebirth of the Nassau Coliseum," Kearney said.

A spokesman for Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies in Brooklyn, declined to comment.

Ratner has said he would seek IDA assistance on the project and his lease agreement with the county indicates that he could not undertake the project without the agency's involvement.

Ratner also is asking the IDA to grant an exemption from property taxes during his 34-year lease with the county, even though the arena is tax exempt.

A 1974 court ruling granted the Coliseum tax-exempt status because it is used primarily for public purposes and is owned by the county. The arena's current operator, Pennsylvania-based Spectator Management Group, does not pay property taxes on the Coliseum, county officials said.

Ratner will not be required to pay property taxes on the arena, and he does not have to make "payments in lieu of taxes," which the IDA typically requires for real estate tax abatements.

Ratner also is requesting a $1.1 million reduction in mortgage recording taxes. Nassau imposes a tax of 1.05 percent of the mortgage value on commercial properties. Additional details about Ratner's request were not immediately available.

Ratner's lease with Nassau requires him to make annual payments to the county totaling at least $195 million over 34 years, with the $4.4 million annual minimum payment rising by 10 percent every five years.

The IDA application does not cover the retail and entertainment complex Ratner expects to build adjacent to the arena. IDA officials said they expect Ratner to eventually seek assistance from the agency to complete that second phase of construction, which includes four restaurants, a movie theater and additional entertainment options.

Forest City is expected to spend $261 million -- including $90 million in Chinese investment -- to renovate the Coliseum, downsize the arena's capacity to 13,000 seats and build the entertainment complex.

Construction is expected to begin shortly after a Billy Joel concert at the Coliseum on Aug. 4, and the arena is expected to reopen in December 2016.

The IDA will hold a public hearing on the application at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the County Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. The agency could vote on the application as early as its July 28 meeting.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More news