Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is seeking for new plans to develop the 77-acre property surrounding Nassau Coliseum, known as the Nassau Hub.
On June 7, Curran released a Request for Expressions of Interest to seek ideas from developers, a move that came nearly three weeks after she rejected a proposal from the Blumenfeld Development Group.
Curran said that her goals are to “cast a very wide net” and see the Hub, which is zoned for 500 housing units, become “a really dynamic live-work-play environment.”
Redevelopment plans for the property surrounding the Nassau Coliseum have bounced between developers and lawmakers for the past decade, with Blumenfeld offering the most recent proposal.
While Nassau County legislators have expressed interest in its ideas, which included the construction of an e-sports area, housing units and a biotech park, Curran denied a lease extension to the Syosset-based company on May 17. Her reasons included that it might not compete with the proposed Belmont Park Arena and that it lacked sufficient transportation infrastructure.
In Curran’s RFEI, she calls for proposals that include at least one of the following:
-A corporate employer in the life sciences and bio research area.
-Entertainment, exhibition, trade show or public gathering uses to complement the Coliseum.
-Retail, restaurant, sports bar, or experiential entertainment.
-Multi-type housing options.
-Transportation to and within the site.
“It’s all about connecting,” Curran said. “Connectivity is so important for this project.” Curran said that she projects to see a 50 percent increase in the number of commuters traveling to the new Nassau Hub and would like to see a rapid transit system from the Mineola train station.
Another goal of the executive is to find a corporate employer because, she said, it would incentivize the New York state government to grant the project more financial aid. Currently, the state has committed to granting $90 million to the project, and Curran said there is a possibility of seeing $30 million more.
“The state wants a transformative plan,” she said, adding that she hopes it willcomplement the Hub’s already existing features such as the recently renovated Coliseum and the soon-to-be completed Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
With a deadline of July 20, the executive added that an RFEI expedites the traditional process of assessing ideas submitted through a Request for Proposals. An RFEI is also different from an RFP because it does not require legislative authorization, but Curran said that she has made her decision with input from her colleagues.
Legislator Thomas McKevitt, who is on the Hub Advisory Committee, sees it differently. “Until today, we have received no communication from county executive whatsoever,” he said regarding the RFEI. The committee, he noted, met twice in April before a May 2 hearing, at which Blumenfeld first announced its proposal to the executive.
McKevitt fears that the county is a long way from “seeing any development of that property. Nassau County has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to develop this property. And here we are again.” The Repiblican legislator from East Meadow said that he wishes to see a schedule, or set plan for what happens after July 20, including whether the executive will seek feedback on the proposals or plans to hold a public comment period.
Frank Camarano, the president of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce President, said that he shares McKevitt’s concerns and would like to see more specific plans from the executive. The RFEI, he said, seems more like a reset than a move forward, adding, “Now that that’s been the case, I would think that it would be up to companies to come up with plans form the ground up.”
Legislator Siela Bynoe, a Democrat, supports the executive’s decision. “I don’t think it’s a complete restart,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for us, as a county, to look at what is the best path forward.”
Bynoe said that she would like to see more collaboration between the executive and the Legislature, but believes that Curran is in her right to make independent decisions about the Hub development. “I’m hopeful that she will continue to brief us as she continues to move along with the process,” she said.