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Hub developer tells legislators about entertainment, retail plan

Evlyn Tsmisis, Nassau deputy county executive for economic

Evlyn Tsmisis, Nassau deputy county executive for economic development, answers questions from legislators about options for redeveloping the HUB area in Uniondale at a meeting in Mineola on Wednesday. Credit: Raychel Brightman

A high-tech golf driving range, indoor go-karting, rock climbing, e-sporting areas and green space would be the initial key elements to creating a place for young people who would eventually live, work and play at the Nassau Hub, according to the developers seeking to build on the 77-acre site in the center of the county.

Blumenfeld Development Group partners told Nassau County legislators for the first time in a public hearing Wednesday night they would first seek to add entertainment and retail that complements the property’s anchor, NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, with their privately financed plan to transform the parcel. Technology companies and housing geared toward attracting millennials would follow, they said.

“There’s no limit to what can be incorporated into this plan,” said David Blumenfeld, son of the Syosset firm’s principal, Ed Blumenfeld.

Blumenfeld, along with a national expert on sports-entertainment districts, presented three options to the legislature, which had called the meeting for a status update on the planning for the long-discussed county land.

The firms’ lease for two sections of the Hub property totaling 11 acres, known as the Coliseum plaza, will expire on May 21. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has the authority to extend the plaza lease, make changes to it or discontinue it.

Blumenfeld presented a plan that would build on the entire Hub site and said it would take about five to 10 years to complete.

Last month, a newly convened Hub Advisory Committee co-chaired by Evlyn Tsimis, Nassau deputy county executive for economic development, and Adam Haber, Hempstead Town’s executive assistant of economic development, began meeting to discuss new ideas for the property.

The 17-member committee includes business leaders, education officials, local lawmakers, economic development advocates as well as commercial and residential real estate development associations.

Tsimis, who presented the options to legislators, fielded dozens of questions about the legal and zoning aspects of Curran’s vision for the property. She said a decision on the land lease with Blumenfeld would be decided in the next two weeks.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) asked whether any new plan would require a change in zoning, which would be decided by the Town of Hempstead. Nicolello said “because that’s been the history with this property — take two steps forward and two steps back.”

“We do not have plans to seek rezoning,” Tsimis said.

Tsimis expressed the administration’s reservation about retail on the site, calling the $1 billion proposal to build a new Islanders arena and entertainment complex at Belmont Park “a game changer.”

Curran said in an interview with Newsday on Tuesday that she does not want to develop the Hub “in piecemeal.” Curran, who took office on Jan. 1, urged a rethinking of the current plan that would include a biotech park; housing; pedestrian walkways; and a rapid bus transit system connecting the site to the Mineola and Hempstead Long Island Rail Road stations.

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen told county legislators she believed there would be room for both the Hub and Belmont projects.

“But we do not believe that hitting the reset button on all of the progress that has taken place is a good idea,” said Gillen, who brought a golden shovel to the meeting. “We already have a general master plan. We already have zoning in place. Restarting the process, and the ongoing debate, does not put us any closer toward the unified goal of building a vibrant local economy that not only retains talent, but attracts it.”

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