The developers of a proposed $1.5 billion commercial and residential development at the Nassau Hub detailed plans Tuesday for a "new suburbia" that they said could transform 60 acres of vacant blacktop around NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum into a vibrant, walkable mixed-use downtown.
In an hourslong public hearing, the developers outlined new aspects of the plan, pledging to sign a community benefits agreement that would provide undetermined amenities or financial incentives to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Scott Rechler, chairman and CEO of Uniondale-based RXR Realty and Brett Yormark, chief executive of Brooklyn-based BSE Global, also promised to sign a project labor agreement to use unionized workers on the development, eliciting cheers from labor members in the crowded hearing room.
But the developers also rankled lawmakers by announcing for the first time that they would be seeking subsidies from the county to offset taxes in the construction of the residential units, likely in the form of a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement.
The developers argued that the site would generate millions in new tax revenue for the county and surrounding communities while attracting young people to live and work at the Hub.
"This is our one great moment, one last great chance to get this right," Yormark told a crowd of more than 300 in Mineola.
The developers' plans call for the construction of 500 units of housing, geared primarily toward millennials; 600,000 square feet of office and biotech research space; two hotels and 200,000 square feet of entertainment options and "experiential retail," stores that provide additional services for customers such as yoga and cooking classes.
A newly-proposed 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot concert venue, to be known as Long Island Fame, would be designed to attract locally-raised artists, performers and athletes, Rechler said.
The GOP-controlled Legislature is expected to vote next month on an amended lease that, if approved, would allow the developers to jump start the planning process. But to begin construction, the developers would need additional legislative approval once a lease agreement is reached with the county and plans are finalized with unions and surrounding communities.
While financing for the project remains under discussion, Rechler said tax abatements would be required to build the housing units.
But county lawmakers were skeptical of approving another PILOT as residents struggle with a new $10,000 federal cap on state and local deductions.
"It’s not a good time to give a huge PILOT,” Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said.
The proposed housing units would include suite-like apartments, known as micro-apartments, where millennials would rent their own private bedroom and share common areas such as a kitchen, living room and bathrooms, Rechler said. Also under consideration are single-family units with smaller studio apartments.
Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, who represents the Uniondale neighborhood around the Hub, raised concerns that Rechler was unable to provide estimates of the incentives or amenities to be included in the community benefit agreement, calling the developer's lack of specifics "disingenuous."
Rechler proposed forming an advisory committee with members of the legislature that would guide the creation of the community benefits agreement.
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) insisted that lawmakers would not approve the final agreement unless terms were included guaranteeing that organized labor was involved with all aspects of the project.
"Having unionized workers on this project has a tremendous impact for our economy," Nicolello said.
The hearing came one day after Northwell Health of New Hyde Park announced plans to build a 225,000-square-foot Innovation Center on the southwest corner of the property, serving as the Hub's long-awaited anchor tenant.
The leadership of Mount Sinai Health Network, which had been negotiating with Rechler to build a 100,000-square-foot medical research facility at the Hub, said Tuesday that it was "completely taken aback" by the move.
"We thought we were a natural fit," Mount Sinai Health Network president Arthur Klein said. "This came as a total surprise . . . You can't compare the depth, breadth and size of the Mount Sinai enterprise to Northwell. The potential we could have brought to the county was immense."
Rechler responded that Northwell, with its multiple locations in Nassau and its affiliation with Hofstra University's Zucker School of Medicine, was a "better suited anchor" for the Hub.
Construction of the first phase of the project — including two state-funded parking garages with a combined 3,400 spots, the Northwell medical facility, half of the housing and the entertainment and retail options — could begin within 18 to 24 months if the amended lease agreement is approved, Rechler said.
An additional 3,100 blacktop parking spots would remain at the Hub while RXR Plaza and the Omni building — both Rechler properties — would provide added spots during construction and events, he said.
The county is seeking $20 million in state funding for three pedestrian bridges to connect the Hub to RXR Plaza, Hofstra University and Nassau Community College. An additional $10 million to $20 million could be available from the state for a bus rapid transit system to connect the Hub to the Mineola and Hempstead Long Island Rail Road stations.