Calling all bidders to Belmont

Empire State Development and state oversight board look for business proposals


The Empire State Development Corp., a state economic development organization, issued a request for proposals on July 31 for the redevelopment of about 43 acres of property in Belmont Park, with the state's Franchise Oversight Board, a panel of five senators working with the New York Racing Association, as a partner in the process.

The goal is to strengthen Belmont into a top Long Island destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality, ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said.

"Belmont Park represents an exciting and much-anticipated development opportunity on Long Island," Zemsky said in a statement. "We encourage respondents to submit creative proposals that stimulate vibrant community and economic growth in the region."

Belmont Park opened in 1905, and was redeveloped from 1964 to 1968. 

"I have no preconceived notions," State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, whose district includes Elmont, said of what the proposals might include. "It needs to balance great economic activity while enhancing the surrounding community. It's the last great undeveloped piece of land in Nassau County."

According to ESD officials, the property comprises two parcels totaling roughly 36 acres, which are either vacant or serve as underutilized parking lots. 

This is the ESD's second attempt to solicit proposals for the property, which is owned by the New York Racing Association, since 2012. The first was cut short last December, after a proposal by the New York Cosmos was scrapped by the ESD because of financial issues. The soccer team proposed a 25,000-seat soccer stadium and 250,000 square feet of retail space, nine restaurants and a 175-room hotel, at a cost of $400 million.

The other three proposals would have converted most of the property into a big-box and grocery-anchored retail center with community athletic fields. 

Brad Blumenfeld, of the Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group, which offered one of the competing proposals five years ago, said he planned to submit another plan this time around. "We do intend to submit a plan that will be exciting and beneficial to the community," Blumenfeld said. "We have been pursuing this site for years, and have really enjoyed working with the local residents."

In order for their proposals to be considered, respondents must show a record of expertise in one or more of the following: Developing and operating real estate or mixed-use projects that incorporate commercial and/or entertainment space, and having equity investors with substantial development and investment experience in real estate projects. 

 Those with project experience must have completed at least three development projects in the last 10 years and/or served as developer and/or principal operator of buildings incorporating commercial, retail or entertainment space for at least two projects in the last seven years.

The proposals should address how they would contribute to and benefit horseracing at Belmont Park, what they would cost and how they would be financed, and include estimates of the number of permanent and temporary construction jobs that would be created, architectural designs, parking and zoning calculations and development timelines.

"We should not limit ideas to stadiums or arenas, but rather encourage as many creative proposals as possible," said Tammie Williams, an Elmont resident and community activist who is also an Elmont Memorial Public Library trustee. "Finally, all developers that submit bids should engage with the community in an open forum before a winner is selected."

Proposals are due Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. to the ESD.