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Hempstead sets hearing on Coliseum renovation

Artist's rendering of developer Bruce Ratner's plans for

Artist's rendering of developer Bruce Ratner's plans for the Nassau Coliseum site on May 2, 2013. Credit: SHoP Architects

Hempstead Town Board members set a public hearing May 19 to review a master plan to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the surrounding area.

Board members will hold the hearing for developer Bruce Ratner to unveil his plans for a 13,000-seat arena, restaurants and retail space. The proposal also includes a broad conceptual master plan for possible future development that goes beyond what Ratner's lease with Nassau County currently allows. That plan calls for more than 3.4 million square feet of development across 91 acres.

After Ratner's presentation, the plans will be open for public comment. Some residents asked the town at Tuesday's Town Board meeting to hold multiple town-hall meetings, including during the evening, so that the majority of the community could attend.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that a vote to approve the master plan may not occur during the public hearing and could be reserved for a later meeting still to be set.

The proposed development by Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner Cos. was submitted April 14 to the town board, which filed to be the presiding body over the project and to conduct an environmental report.

Ratner's company, in exchange for approval to fund the project with $90 million in Chinese investments, plans to commit an additional $31 million to facility improvements, bringing its total outlay to $260.5 million.

Ratner plans to renovate the 416,000-square-foot Coliseum, which calls for the removal of about 3,000 seats with the New York Islanders' move to Brooklyn next year. The full capacity of 16,000 seats could later be restored, according to the master plan.

The initial development calls for eight new buildings to be built on a 188,000-square-foot parcel to house a movie theater, four restaurants and another entertainment center.

The master plan could eventually add two new hotels, a convention center, seven parking structures and medical and research space. The medical complex would be separate from Memorial Sloan Kettering's Cancer Center, which will add a $140 million outpatient facility on the site.

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