Two Nassau legislative committees on Monday approved an amendment to a lease between the county and operators of the NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum, providing momentum to a $1.5 billion plan to develop 72-acres around the arena into a “new suburbia.”
Amending the 49-year lease would give exclusive rights to Coliseum operator BSE Global and its master developer RXR Realty to propose plans to build on the last major parcel of public land in Nassau County.
The developers' plans call for 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.
Members of the county Rules Committee and the Planning Committee voted unanimously for the amendment. A final vote is expected Dec. 17 in the 17-member Nassau Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.
“We passed the amendment through committees, but will be seeking changes to the agreement before it is considered by the Legislature on December 17,” said Legis. Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), the leader of the GOP majority.
Following a presentation by officials in County Executive Laura Curran’s administration, some legislators expressed concerns about the BSE-RXR proposal.
They cited the lack of any specific benefits to residents of communities surrounding the site, and a lack of details about a project labor agreement to hire union construction workers.
Evlyn Tsimis, deputy county executive for economic development, said the administration would work with the Legislature during the planning and development process for the Hub project.
“We are looking for a partnership. If we don’t, nothing will happen on this site,” Tsimis said.
At one point, Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) became visibly frustrated, telling Curran representatives they were “completely unprepared” because they had no language in the lease amendment about community benefits or labor.
“So you do not have an amount?” said Abrahams, leader of the minority Democrats. “Have you taken a look at the other community benefits to the community surrounding Yankee Stadium? Barclays?”
Josh Meyer, outside counsel for the county executive’s office, said the administration would provide details of how the developer would give back to the community.
“A community benefits package is very important to this administration, I just want to stress that,” Meyer said.
Legis. Denise Ford, a Long Beach Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, echoed Abrahams’ concerns: “There has to be something. A model or something he [RXR chairman Scott Rechler] can use based on what he has done in other communities.”
Other legislators questioned the relationship between Curran’s office and the development team.
“I feel like we are helping a monopoly here,” Ford said.
Legis. Steven Rhoads (R-Wantagh) asked whether all the respondents to Curran's request for ideas were considered by the Hub advisory committee.
“Did the administration participate at all or facilitate in the relationship between BSE and RXR?” Rhoads asked.
Tsimis said Curran's office was aware BSE Global was meeting with RXR but that a request for ideas was occurring at the same time.