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Long IslandPolitics

Laura Curran wants new plan for Nassau hub

The Nassau County executive says new competition from a proposed development for the Islanders at Belmont Park requires reconsideration of hub plans.

Aerial view of the New Nassau Veterans Memorial

Aerial view of the New Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Presented by NYCB Live, April 5, 2017. Photo Credit: ALL Island Aerial / Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will announce a new initiative Wednesday night to redevelop the Nassau Hub, the 77-acre area around NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, saying the $1 billion plan for a new Islanders arena, retail and entertainment complex at Belmont Park “changes the landscape.”

Curran wants legislators and others to consider new possibilities for the tract including a biotech park; housing; pedestrian walkways; and a rapid bus transit system connecting the site to the Mineola and Hempstead Long Island Rail Road stations.

Curran said that given the competition with Belmont, plans for the largest undeveloped piece of county land need to be rethought.

“We have a real opportunity to do something visionary and bold here — something transformational — and I don’t want to blow that opportunity,” Curran said Tuesday. “We have all of the stakeholders involved, we are working with [Hempstead] town, and I am really excited about the possibilities of this site.”

Administration officials will present their ideas for the development of the Hub as well as the legal status of the property at a public hearing called by the county legislature’s Republican majority Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on Franklin Avenue in Mineola.

Curran, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 1, is the latest in a string of county leaders who have sought to redevelop the parcel.

Proposals have ranged from Charles Wang’s Lighthouse Project with 2,300 housing units, office and retail space, to former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s plan for a 25-acre science and technology park to be built atop an underground parking garage.

But Curran’s desire to build on the entire 77 acres could run counter to a plan by Blumenfeld Development Group, which is proposing primarily entertainment and retail on 11 acres of the site. The Syosset-based developer — who has not released details or renderings — is expected to make a formal presentation at Wednesday night’s hearing.

When asked Tuesday for comments on Curran’s initiative, Edward Blumenfeld, principal of the firm, said in a statement: “While reasonable people can debate the term “transformational,” the question for this administration is whether another RFP will bring a higher, better or “transformational” use for this parcel or will it bring another considerable delay that adds one more chapter to the history of repeated land use study and missed opportunities.”

The company won a settlement in February against former development partner Forest City Enterprises for the right to propose an idea to redevelop the Hub. Forest City Enterprises worked on the Coliseum renovation completed last year.

The firms’ lease for two sections of the Hub property totaling 11 acres, known as the Coliseum plaza, will expire on May 21, Curran’s office said. The deadline is partly why the administration is “taking a fresh look” at a plan to develop the entire 77-acre property that is “not piecemeal,” Curran said.

Town of Hempstead zoning for the Hub property allows for nonresidential building height restrictions of 40 feet for residential; 60 feet for nonresidential or mixed use; 100 feet for a hotel. A maximum of 500 residential units, with 20 percent defined as “affordable” or “workforce” housing. At least 3 percent of the land area must be public parkland.

In addition to the renovation of the Coliseum, which reopened in March 2017, a 140,000-square-foot Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center building broke ground in October 2017.

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said he looked forward to hearing an update on the plans in a public hearing.

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