Before Don Clavin was elected as the incoming Hempstead town supervisor, he told Newsday’s editorial board that current efforts to develop the land around Nassau Coliseum were “the last chance at the Hub.”
He said he would back even more housing than initially proposed, and that he wanted to work with the developers “to help expedite the project.” When Clavin takes office next week, he will have his chance to show he meant what he said.
This week, developer Scott Rechler, of RXR Realty, and partner Onexim Sports and Entertainment, which manages the Coliseum, submitted to the town plans and a petition for some zoning changes. The town has to review the plans and hold hearings before it can approve them.
Clavin is right to make the Hub a priority, as development at Nassau County’s largest remaining developable parcel of land is key to the region’s future. He must show this Republican administration in Hempstead isn’t the same as those of the past. A decade ago, Republican town leadership, then headed by Kate Murray, rejected attempts to develop the Hub. Now, Murray is town clerk. The town’s leadership should not make the same mistake twice.
Rechler’s plan includes nearly 2.8 million square feet of development, including 850 hotel rooms, a 1,000-seat performing arts venue and restaurants. The requested adjustments to the Hub’s zoning, include allowing more than six housing units per building and seeking flexibility in height so that any building on the site could reach up to 100 feet. The current zone allows only a hotel to be built that high.
Both requests are reasonable: RXR Plaza is 175 feet tall, while the Long Island Marriott is 135 feet. And the six-unit-per-building limitation didn’t make sense, because it would mean the permitted 500 housing units would require more than 80 buildings.
Murray wouldn’t negotiate with former Hub developer Charles Wang and Rechler, then Wang’s partner. If Clavin works with Rechler, Clavin could be a force behind the start of a new chapter for the Hub, the town and the region.
— The editorial board