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Developer Ed Blumenfeld blasts Hub plan

The owner of Blumenfeld Development Group calls $1.5 billion RXR-BSE Global plan to develop of 72 acres surrounding Nassau Coliseum unfair and unethical.

NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on April 5, 2017.

NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on April 5, 2017.  Photo Credit: All Island Aerial/Kevin P. Coughlin

The owner of Blumenfeld Development Group, who for decades bid unsuccessfully to redevelop the area around NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum, on Friday blasted a $1.5 billion plan to make RXR Realty master developer of the 72-acre county-owned parcel. 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran backs the proposed joint venture by RXR and BSE Global, which operates the Coliseum.

The proposal calls for 500 units of housing; 600,000 square feet of office and biotech research space; 200,000 square feet of “experiential retail”; two pedestrian bridges; bus rapid transit to the Long Island Rail Road; and 3,400 parking spaces, including two parking garages.

“What is deeply troubling, and should be to every lawmaker and taxpayer, is that this decision was made with no transparency, no genuine review, and through a process that defies rational explanation by an administration that has quickly abandoned the principles upon which it ran for office," said Ed Blumenfeld, founder of BDG, which is based in Syosset.

While not threatening directly to sue, BDG suggested legal action may be necessary.

“While the lawyers and the courts may very well have to determine whether this unprecedented unilateral transfer of development rights to a major donor of the current administration without employing a fair open competitive process is somehow lawful, it is now apparent to even the most casual observer that at the very minimum it is utterly devoid of ethics, fairness and integrity," Blumenfeld said.

"Ultimately, the needed disinfectant required to correct what has occurred here may only be found in a courtroom," he said.

Asked for comment, Curran spokesman Michael Martino said, "the county will not comment on any pending or threatened litigation." 

Curran administration officials say Blumenfeld in April 2018 signed an agreement promising not to sue. Blumenfeld officials say the company continues to explore its legal options. 

BDG pitched its plan to create an "arena district" on the property to Curran and county legislators in May after reaching an out-of-court settlement with former development partner Forest City Ratner. The companies had fought over rights to develop part of the Hub property since 2015, stalling progress on the larger site.

The administration, along with some county legislators and developers, said Blumenfeld’s project could not compete with a $1 billion proposal that includes a new hockey arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park in Elmont.

In June, Curran solicited plans from other developers. Seventeen proposals were submitted by the Aug. 20 deadline, including one from BSE and RXR. Blumenfeld also submitted a proposal. 

Blumenfeld suggested Curran selected RXR because the company and its CEO Scott Rechler are among her political donors.

State records show Rechler has donated $180,995.69 to political campaigns since Jan. 1, 2017, the bulk of it to Democratic candidates and committees. Last year, he donated $10,000 each to the county executive campaigns of Curran, a Democrat, and Republican Jack Martins.

Blumenfeld, along with his sons Brad and David who are partners in the development company, have donated $25,500 since 2017 to various political campaigns to elect both Democrats, including Curran, and Republicans.

Rechler said the donations to Nassau Democrats had nothing to do with Curran's backing of the RXR and BSE plan.

“I don’t think this is political favor. This is our job, this is what we do. I think that’s the reality of it,” Rechler said. “If we were not who we are I would think that, but we have $18 billion of real estate holdings and one of the most successful track records of anyone in the business.”

Martino, spokesman for Curran, said the BSE-RXR partnership "was formed outside of the county's purview and was not decided upon or influenced by the County Executive."

“BSE is the leaseholder for the Coliseum and surrounding parking and is pursuing its rights under the existing lease . . . BSE and RXR are a formidable partnership that can get shovels in the ground quickly and help move the County Executive’s economic development vision forward and reinvent Nassau County,” Martino said. 

With Scott Eidler

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