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Belmont redo? After lag, state altering bid scope; asks for December reply

Robert S. Evans, the owner of Tonalist, the

Robert S. Evans, the owner of Tonalist, the 2014 Belmont Stakes winner, holds the trophy presented by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014, in Elmont. Credit: Getty Images / Rob Carr

ELMONT - After bids languished for nearly three years, the Cuomo administration has contacted developers about revamping proposals for Belmont Park and informed them that one significant parcel is no longer on the table.

The state’s economic development agency recently sent notices to companies that submitted Belmont proposals in 2012-13, informing them that the New York Racing Association, which runs horse racing at the track, is working on a plan for what’s known as “Parcel A” on Belmont’s north side and that it is “no longer entertaining offers on Parcel A at this time.”

The agency also acknowledged that much time has passed since it originally requested proposals and asked bidders whether their plans have changed. Among the proposals, the New York Cosmos have pitched a 25,000-seat soccer stadium and hotel complex.

“Given the time that has passed, please update us on how your thinking for Parcel B has changed,” Thomas Conoscenti, director of real estate and planning for the Empire State Development Corp., a state agency, wrote to bidders in an email obtained by Newsday. “Areas of interest include: changes to the scope and design of the project, an update on the financial condition of the responding team, revenue projections in light of market changes, project sources and uses, project timeline and financial offer. Please note that at this time we would like all financial offers to be represented as a sale.”

Conoscenti asked bidders to respond in writing by Dec. 4 and asked them to appear for an “in-person interview” on either Dec. 9 or 10.

ESDC began soliciting bids for Belmont in September 2012, with offers coming in by early 2013. But action has been delayed more than once.

 In August 2013, the agency said it was weeks away from a decision. In March 2014, it promised one “soon.” Now, in the waning weeks of 2015, the agency is changing the scope of the development project.

The Cosmos said in July that it would consider alternatives if the state didn’t decide by the end of the year.

The soccer proposal has split Nassau County political leaders. County Executive Edward Mangano, state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), among others, have backed the idea. Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) and her brother, Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont), have opposed the stadium; they have said the area needs affordable housing and a grocery store.

Some political leaders want Belmont's racetrack to house 1,000 video slot machines that the state Legislature authorized for Nassau.

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