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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Developer vs. developer at Nassau Coliseum

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

The last thing Nassau County needs is more foot-dragging in the effort to bring the area around Nassau Coliseum back to life.

As it is, the nearby Long Island Marriott no longer is in foreclosure. And a deal that County Executive Edward Mangano made to sell five acres of prime land adjacent to the Coliseum to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which plans to build an outpatient cancer treatment and research facility, would bring the area a new 450-vehicle, multilevel parking facility that arena users also could use.

In addition, Mangano said Monday, there's state funding for another Coliseum-area garage in the state budget deal approved over the weekend.

But there's potential trouble brewing. It's the fight between developers Bruce Ratner and Edward Blumenfeld over who gets to do what with retail development surrounding the Coliseum.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Ratner, the Brooklyn-based developer Mangano contracted to overhaul the Coliseum, cites "fundamentally different" visions between his firm -- Forest City Ratner Cos. -- and Blumenfeld's firm -- Blumenfeld Development Group Ltd. of Syosset. -- about what kind of retail should circle the facility.

Forest City Ratner, as part of its reinvigoration of Nassau's last large commercial parcel, is supposed to remake an area of parking lot surrounding the Coliseum into a retail and entertainment complex.

But the difference between the developers' visions can be gleaned from a letter Blumenfeld wrote to Ratner, and from Newsday reports.

Blumenfeld, in a Feb. 25 letter to Ratner, points to Forest City's efforts to pull in the development's first four tenants. He mentions an indoor basketball league, a music venue and two other sports-related businesses.

Blumenfeld, meanwhile, was mining for other potential tenants, including a Bass Pro Shop, a Modell's sporting goods store, a Dave & Buster's restaurant, an indoor trampoline park and a movie theater, according to a Newsday report.

Ratner says Blumenfeld is misrepresenting himself as a partner, pointing out, correctly, that his firm has the contract with Nassau, while a memorandum of understanding between Forest City and BDG expired in November.

Blumenfeld contends in his letter to Ratner, however, that the two had a partnership even before there was the memorandum. BDG also is alleged to be planning to file a lawsuit against the Ratner firm in the partnership dispute.

The Ratner suit alleges that BDG last week leaked to the press that -- should the partnership question remain unresolved -- a BDG lawsuit could stall the redevelopment "for several months or even years."

Which is the last thing Nassau residents -- who for decades now have watched plan after plan for the Hub area around the Coliseum end up foundering -- need.

Mangano said Monday that he'd attempted, unsuccessfully, to have the sides sit down and sort out their differences. But, Mangano said, he's been assured by Ratner the company would break ground in August to begin the Coliseum face-lift.

There's still much to be done, from submitting plans to the Town of Hempstead for needed approvals, to ironing out labor deals and to securing financing -- which, according to a Newsday report, now could include loans from a Chinese investor.

Stay tuned.


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