This artist's rendering provided by the Spector Group on Wednesday,...

This artist's rendering provided by the Spector Group on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, shows a proposed New York Cosmos soccer stadium at Belmont Park in Elmont. Credit: AP

A state agency says it is nearing a decision on the proposed redevelopment of Belmont Park, 18 months after soliciting private sector bids for a 36-acre tract carved from a parking lot.

The Empire State Development Corp said in a statement last week that it is still considering responses to a request for proposals it issued in September 2012.

"We . . . hope to announce a decision soon," said Jason Conwall, a spokesman for the agency. "We want to be thorough and comprehensive."

Empire State officials have said repeatedly during the past year that the agency was nearing a decision on the project. In August, officials told Newsday a decision was expected within weeks.

Four bidders responded to the RFP, including the revived New York Cosmos soccer franchise. The team proposed a $400 million, 25,000-seat stadium that would be privately financed. The Cosmos plan also includes a 175-room hotel, restaurants, retail stores and a public park on the northern section of the property near the racetrack.

Erik Stover, chief operating officer of the Cosmos, said the team is being patient with the state, but is eager for a decision. The club, which won the North American Soccer League title last year, now plays its home games at Hofstra University.

"We remain confident that we have the best plan for job creation and economic development," Stover said.

Team officials had planned to break ground on the outdoor stadium, which would be located on a 28-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Hempstead Turnpike and the Cross Island Parkway, in early 2014 so it could be ready for games by spring of 2016. Stover said the delays would push the team's schedule back by a year.

Area lawmakers including Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) support the Cosmos bid.

Opposition to the project has been led by Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages and his sister Assemb. Michaelle Solages, both Democrats from Elmont. They argue that the neighborhood needs a supermarket and community center, not a soccer stadium.

Carrié Solages said he would like to see the Belmont property developed into Nassau's version of Tanger Outlets. "But the lack of a clear response by the ESD is prohibiting new opportunities from being considered," he said.

The three other bids by area developers are considerably less dense than the Cosmos proposal.

Engel Burman Group of Garden City and Basser-Kaufman of Woodmere have proposed a 28-acre retail and recreation center, including a supermarket, stores, restaurants, a community center and a public soccer field.

The Blumenfeld Development Group in Syosset wants to put a big-box store on the site, surrounded by restaurants, a health club, community center and athletic fields.

Related Companies, a Manhattan-based firm, has proposed new shops, restaurants, a supermarket and 2 1/2 acres of community and recreation space.

Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East End Civic Association, said he doesn't like any of the proposals and wants the state to scrap the RFP and reissue a new one that would allow for housing.

"It could be much better," Nicolosi said. "I would like to see Central Park East, with high-end apartments and shopping. We just need the right developer."

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