Nassau Coliseum on October 25, 2011.

Nassau Coliseum on October 25, 2011. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner Tuesday submitted formal plans for redeveloping Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding land that include a downsized arena, restaurants and retail, with construction planned to begin in August.

The submission, filed with the Town of Hempstead, also includes a broad conceptual master plan for possible future development that goes far beyond what Ratner's lease with Nassau County currently allows. That broader plan calls for more than 3.4 million square feet of development across 91 acres.

Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner Cos., and County Executive Edward Mangano submitted the master plan and an environmental analysis to the Town of Hempstead, which has to conduct an environmental review and approve the plans. Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that could take at least a month.

At a news conference in Hempstead, Ratner said the timetable will be unaffected by his ongoing battles with Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld, who was brought on to handle retail development at the site.

Ratner and Blumenfeld have filed dueling lawsuits and Blumenfeld is seeking an injunction to stop Ratner from moving ahead with the project without him. Blumenfeld and Ratner each allege that the other is trying to usurp control of the project.

"We will hold the Ratner group fully liable and accountable to the full extent of the law," said Blumenfeld attorney Ron Rosenberg.

Ratner's submission to the town notes that the renovated Coliseum will be reduced to 13,000 seats from its current capacity of more than 16,000. But the plan says Ratner in the future might request the town "consider an expansion of seating at the Coliseum back to existing capacity."

The arena's current anchor tenant, the New York Islanders, is moving to Ratner's Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the team's Nassau lease expires in July.

In his State of the County address last month, Mangano said the Islanders' new practice facility and corporate offices could "cement the Islanders in Nassau and provide hope that we will witness their full-time return" to the Coliseum.

Mangano said Tuesday that the plan "provides the opportunity for a professional ice hockey team" to play at the Coliseum. Ratner would not answer a question about the team's possible return to Nassau.

The portion of the plan that would be built immediately involves 17 acres and will include a renovated 416,000-square-foot Coliseum and eight new buildings, comprising 188,000 square feet. It will house a movie theater, four restaurants and additional entertainment options.

Ratner declined to confirm any tenants, but Mangano said in a statement that Island Garden Basketball, an indoor basketball facility based in West Hempstead, would be located on the property.

"It is the first step toward turning that concrete jungle into a thriving economic destination with sports and entertainment for people of all ages," Mangano said.

The long-term master plan also includes two new hotels, a convention center, retail, and medical and research space, along with seven parking structures.

Ratner said he wanted to start with the Coliseum and initial surrounding development to make sure the project is done well. "We've got time and we've got acreage," he said. "Let's do it right and plan it out right."

Mangano has said Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will spend $140 million to build an outpatient treatment and research facility on the site. Sloan Kettering's facility would be separate from Ratner's development.

Hempstead officials applauded what Town Councilman Anthony Santino called a "transformative" project.

"We are taking a critical step here for a project that's . . . going to kickstart our economy and help shape the future of our township for generations to come," Santino said.

Ratner's submission came 20 months after Mangano selected a Ratner subsidiary, Nassau Events Center LLC, to redevelop the Coliseum property.

The town approved a zone for up to 5.4 million square feet of construction on the Coliseum property in 2011. That zone's creation came in the wake of Hempstead's rejection of the Lighthouse Project, a far more dense, $3.8 billion proposal by Islanders owner Charles Wang in 2004.

Murray said the zone will expedite the town's approval process on the Ratner project.

"It has been a long journey," she said Tuesday.

With John Asbury

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