Plans to transform the area around the Nassau Coliseum into a biotech park are outdated and lack multifamily housing and transportation improvements needed to make the area a thriving economic district, according to a Long Island research group.
In a report released Monday, the Long Island Index called Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s plans to develop the Hub property with health care and technology industries an “exciting first step.”
But the group said the plan, which relies heavily on state funds, will fail to attract enough young workers, residents and businesses to capitalize on the site’s potential.
“The existing plan is nothing more than a 20th century office park,” said Ann Golob, director of the Long Island Index, a Garden City-based group led by civic, academic, labor and business leaders which produces nonpartisan reports on housing, employment, transportation and the environment. “And that doesn’t make sense in the 21st century.”
Deputy Nassau County Executive Ed Ward said proposals for the Hub are “fluid and subject to siting revisions. Plans can always be amended and made better and we look forward to working with all willing partners to accomplish the best Nassau Hub Innovation District possible.”
Mangano in 2015 sought $225 million from the state for a 25-acre biotech park to be built atop an underground parking garage. The funds also would be used to build an outdoor plaza south of the Coliseum; a rapid bus transit system to connect the Mineola Long Island Rail Road station with the Hub; and three new pedestrian bridges.
The state last year approved an $85 million grant to pay for two parking garages, with a combined 3,400 spaces. The county had expected Northwell Health to build a $350 million Center for Bioelectronic Medicine on top of one of the garages but the company dropped its plans in April, citing cost. The county is seeking a replacement tenant.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has begun construction of a $140 million outpatient treatment and research facility and parking garage on the southwest portion of the Hub property.
However, Forest City Ratner, developer of the renovated Coliseum, has yet to break ground on a planned complex next to the arena that would feature retail, restaurants and entertainment.
In a statement, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which renovated the Coliseum, said it was working to “ensure that any development, beyond the acres of retail already designated for Forest City, unlocks the innovation center potential at the Hub that the LI Index identifies.”
Index researchers said two thirds of the development in Nassau’s plan is devoted to entertainment and hospitality, exceeding the proportion in successful districts in cities including St. Louis, Seattle and Cambridge, Mass., which rely on a greater mix of office space and multifamily housing.
The group proposed a 7.1 million-square-foot “Nassau Hub Innovation District” — more than double the size of Nassau’s proposed development — that includes 3.4 million square feet of office, research and development.
Innovation districts are accessible by mass transit and typically include businesses and research institutions clustered near mixed-use housing, retail and office space.
The proposed innovation district, which would be built largely with private-sector funds, would generate $3.4 billion in economic activity; create more than 14,000 new jobs and add $77 million in added tax revenue for the county, the report said.
“We have not scratched the surface to bring economic development of an intensified reality to this area,” Golob said.
The Long Island Index report also calls for 1,000 units of housing, capped at 12 units per three-story building, built on top of ground-floor retail. Nassau’s plan does not call for any housing.
Town of Hempstead zoning limits residential development at the Hub to a total of 500 units and six units per building.
“Every effort should be made to provide affordable housing to complement the business development,” Ward said.
The Index also proposed connecting the unused Garden City-Mitchel Field LIRR Right of Way — used in recent years only for a circus train to Nassau Community College — with the abandoned Mineola spur, using bus rapid transit.
The 2.9-mile route, dubbed the “Hubway,” would cut travel time from Mineola, create the first direct public transportation option to the Coliseum and cost a projected $64 million, researchers said.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said he would have an “open mind when it comes to possible adjustments” to the residential zoning. But he called the Hubway a “non-starter” that would “slice through the heart of a quiet residential neighborhood, replacing a long-dormant LIRR right of way with an unwelcome mass transit system.”
NASSAU HUB DEVELOPMENT
The Long Island Index is proposing an expansion of development of the Nassau Hub in central Nassau County. A report recommends construction of 7.1 million square feet of development, including:
- 3.4 million square feet of office, research and development and flexible commercial space.
- 2.2 million square feet of new multifamily housing.
- 700,000 square feet for a new hotel.
- 400,000 square feet of retail and recreation.
The plan would:
- Create 14,000 new jobs with average salaries of $65,000.
- Generate $3.4 billion in economic activity for the state.
- Bring $30 million in new sales tax revenue and $47 million in new property tax revenue to Nassau County.
Source: Long Island Index