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Kate Murray: No 'red flags' in Nassau Coliseum plans

Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. (March 13, 2013)

Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. (March 13, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said Thursday that she does not see any obvious "red flags" in the four proposals to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum that would cause the project to be held up or rejected by the town board.

In her most extensive comments to date on the new arena proposals, Murray told the Long Island Business Council, a think tank for small businesses, that a developmental zone adopted by the town in 2011 for the area surrounding the Coliseum would allow the project to move forward expeditiously.

"I expect [there] won't be a government challenge with the zone in place," said Murray, a Republican. "We have absolutely streamlined the process for the winning developer. With the flexibility of the zone, there will be very little tweaking that needs to be done, if any at all."

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Murray's comments "are encouraging news and signal to RFP respondents that the town and county are working to support economic growth and job opportunities in the Hub."

Last week, four developers submitted their plans to renovate or replace the Coliseum to a group of business executives that will advise Mangano on picking the winning proposal.

The bidders were: Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, the Madison Square Garden Co., Syosset developer Edward Blumenfeld and Bayville-based New York Sports LLC. The Dolan family holds controlling interest in MSG, and owns Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.

Obtaining the approval of Hempstead Town Board will be critical for the winning developer. The town in 2010 rejected Islanders owner Charles Wang's $3.8 billion Lighthouse Project, arguing the development was too dense and traffic would overwhelm area roadways. A 2011 plan to build a $400 million, publicly funded arena was rejected by taxpayers.

Last year, Wang said he was moving the Islanders to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Hempstead's zone would allow for 5.4 million square feet of construction -- compared with up to 13 million square feet with the Lighthouse Project -- while the maximum building height would be roughly nine stories for hotels and four stories for all other buildings.

Each of the four Coliseum bidders said Thursday that their respective plans comply with the zone and would not be requesting any changes.

Meanwhile, Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz said Thursday night that he was "excited" about the developers' proposals. The university's campus is adjacent to the Hub.

"It is the most hopeful development I've seen in my 12 years as president of Hofstra," he said after a meeting of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

Rabinowitz also said he did not yet have a favorite plan. "The most important thing at the moment is to decide which plans are real and which plans are actually going to happen," he said, "because the biggest disaster of all would be if we failed once again to have any significant development at the Hub."

With James T. Madore

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