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Developers settle Nassau Coliseum lawsuit

The lawsuit focused on the right to develop retail and restaurants around the arena.

An agreement between Blumenfeld Development Group and Forest

An agreement between Blumenfeld Development Group and Forest City Enterprises, L.P., resolves a lawsuit to determine which company had the right to build on the land surrounding the Coliseum in Uniondale. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Two developers have reached an out-of-court settlement in their long-running lawsuit over rights to build a retail and entertainment complex outside the NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group on Wednesday announced a settlement with Forest City Enterprises, L.P. The agreement resolves a lawsuit, filed in March 2015, to determine which company had the right to build on the county-owned land surrounding the Uniondale arena.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Ed Blumenfeld, president of Blumenfeld Development, said “the agreement reflects the desires of two parties to put aside their differences and find common ground outside of the courthouse.”

He said that, “as a result, this settlement will allow us to propose a development plan that provides considerable economic benefits for Mitchel Field consistent with the shared goals of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and the taxpayers of Nassau County.”

Blumenfeld attorney Ronald J. Rosenberg of Garden City said Forest City will “likely not” be involved in the retail portion of the project.

Harold Weinberger, a Manhattan-based attorney for developer Bruce Ratner, chief executive of Forest City Ratner Companies, said “the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”

Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the firm owned by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, would play a role in the project to ensure the development complements the Coliseum, officials said. In 2015, Prokhorov purchased an 85 percent stake in Nassau Events Center, which spent $165 million to rebuild the Coliseum.

“We are very pleased that this litigation matter has been settled and look forward to the full and vibrant development of the Hub,” Onexim said.

Blumenfeld and Forest City were among four companies that bid on the redevelopment of the Coliseum and its surrounding property in 2013.

After Nassau settled on Forest City and the Madison Square Garden Company as finalists, Blumenfeld signed on to Ratner’s proposal, agreeing to develop the retail and restaurant components. The two firms worked together on the project for 18 months but had a falling out over control and direction of the development.

Blumenfeld said Ratner tried to “usurp sole control of the project.” Forest City argued that Blumenfeld attempted to make “unilateral” changes to its plan without approval.

Despite the settlement, the future of the proposed 11-acre development around the Coliseum remains uncertain.

Last year, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano began considering whether to add housing to the development plans after the state approved an $85 million grant for construction of two parking garages on the Hub site. The garages would free up 19 acres of blacktop originally designated for surface parking, for housing.

Town of Hempstead zoning for the 77-acre Hub allows for up to 500 housing units.

The county’s 2013 lease with Nassau Events Center Plaza — the company with a lease to build the entertainment complex — called for a $130 million, 188,000-square-foot plaza with restaurants, a 10-screen movie theater, 2,500-seat indoor theater, outdoor theater, skating rink and retail space.

“We look forward to hearing from BDG on development ideas that support my economic development vision for the Hub,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“With this issue resolved the powerful forces of the marketplace can be put to work on behalf of development,” Blumenfeld said.

In 2016, Ratner requested $6.2 million in tax breaks from Nassau’s Industrial Development Agency to build the retail plaza.

Ratner’s lease requires him to pay the county at least 8 percent of the gross revenue from the new entertainment facilities surrounding the arena or a minimum of $400,000 per year — whichever is greater — and a minimum of $4 million a year from the Coliseum. In the interim, the developer has paid $5,000 in monthly rent on the retail plaza land.

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