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Ratner: Nassau Hub faces 'more limited choices' for development

Bruce Ratner listens during Action Long Island's Fireside

Bruce Ratner listens during Action Long Island's Fireside Chat about the Nassau Coliseum in Woodbury in October. (Oct. 23, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

Bruce Ratner, the developer tapped by Nassau County to revamp the Coliseum, says housing, offices, stores or technology companies aren't suitable for the acres of asphalt surrounding his proposed entertainment complex.

Speaking in Manhattan on Thursday, Ratner, board chairman of Forest City Ratner Cos., said, "You have more limited choices" in the area, known as the Nassau Hub. "I guess I would have to say it should be sports and entertainment . . . that's what is there already."

He told the Society of American Business Editors that offices "cannot go on that site" adjacent to the Coliseum because Long Island has a glut of vacant offices. He also said affordable housing, while in great demand, wouldn't pass muster with Hempstead Town officials. Town Supervisor Kate Murray had no comment Friday, according to town spokesman Michael Deery.

Ratner also said Nassau doesn't need more stores. "Long Island is over-retailed," he said during his appearance at Baruch College.

Asked by Newsday about the biotechnology campus proposed for the Hub by Plainview developer Donald Monti, Ratner said "it's really hard to start these things," and competition from other states for technology companies is fierce.

Monti said Friday, "We can have a successful sports and entertainment center along with the creation of an innovation and technology hub. If this is being done elsewhere, then why not here on Long Island?"

Ratner said nearby Hofstra University Medical School, which is affiliated with the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, could aid in the development of a biotech cluster. But he added, "it's very difficult, if not impossible, just to create overnight."

He touted the economic benefits of sports and entertainment facilities, saying, unlike offices and retail, "it's growing . . . I think that's probably the right orientation" for the Hub, a 77-acre site in Uniondale.

In August, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano selected Ratner's $229 million plan to remake Nassau Coliseum.

Asked Friday to respond to Ratner's comments, Mangano said: "All options are on the table as we seek to launch a realistic and sustainable economic development plan for the remainder of the property."

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