It might seem as if Nassau County is back at the starting line with its new “request for expressions of interest” for the Hub.
But this time could be different. Let’s hope.
By using this approach rather than a traditional “request for proposals,” County Executive Laura Curran has opened the process to broader possibilities. Her idea to allow responses that would target only parts of the 77 acres the county owns around Nassau Coliseum makes it possible to build in stages. What separates this request from earlier ones by the county is the potential to use state funds to build parking garages, improve infrastructure and lure a life-sciences employer. Requiring responses as soon as July 20 and seeking only the outlines of a larger vision might encourage more creative replies that can be better shaped by all of those with an interest in the project. While the approach seems promising, the challenge for Curran is to move collaboratively but quickly.
The Town of Hempstead, which controls the zoning, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which manages the Coliseum, must be partners in the planning. And while the county’s focus on finding a life sciences employer as a corporate anchor with high-paying jobs might be a smart strategy, it can’t be at the expense of delivering on the promise of the Hub.
After rejecting the massive Lighthouse Project, Hempstead Town zoned the acreage for 500 units of housing and other limited development. Start there, but, if possible, leave open the opportunity for more development in the future.
Too many times, the Hub has been a place where ideas died in the asphalt. Perhaps, this time they can rise from it. — The editorial board