Redevelopment plans for the 77 acres of property surrounding the Nassau Coliseum have been bouncing between developers and lawmakers for the past decade. The most recent interested party, Blumenfeld Development Group, offered a plan that included the construction of an e-sports area, housing units and a biotech park, among other amenities.
But Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has made it clear that she will be seeking other ideas for the county Hub, as the land around the Coliseum is known. She an-nounced on May 17 her decision to deny a lease extension to Blumenfeld.
The Syosset-based company co-leased an 11-acre portion of the land known as Coliseum Plaza with another developer, Forest City Ratner. Although the two had planned to develop the parcel together, an internal legal dispute stalled the process.
Blumenfeld settled out of court with Forest City Ratner in February, and came back to Curran with its ideas. Although she was initially interested, several factors changed her mind, Curran spokesman Mike Martino explained.
Curran also expressed concerns that the proposed Belmont Park Arena might pose a threat to the future viability of the Hub, and that whatever plan is ultimately ap-proved for the Coliseum complex must be able to compete with the Belmont development. Martino said, however, that Blumenfeld’s proposal was promising, because it offered services that are not part of the plan for Belmont, such as affordable housing and high-tech jobs.
But the Hub lacks transportation infrastructure, said County Legislator Kevan Abrahams, a Democrat from Freeport, who supported Curran’s decision not to extend Blumenfeld’s lease. While he noted that the developer’s proposal had merit, Abrahams said that Curran was looking for a proposal that would connect Eisenhower Park, Museum Row, the Coliseum and their associated attractions.
“Our push is to see some greater transportation infrastructure in place, something that complements the area,” Abrahams said, noting that it could include a shuttle as well as a rapid-transit system.
Blumenfeld disagreed with Curran’s decision, and Gary Lewi, a spokesman for the company, said that it “has history repeating itself all over again.” The developer has been vying for an opportunity to build on the land since 2005, but lost out to then New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and his ill-fated, $3.7 billion Lighthouse project proposal in 2008, which sought to include an extension of the Islanders’ lease of the Coliseum until 2030.
Much has changed since then, however, and Lewi said that Blumenfeld must consider all of its options — which might include legal action. “As the development community weighs whether to respond to this latest sad chapter at the Hub,” Lewi said in a statement, “the more sophisticated players know that BDG submitted a transformative plan to the Nassau County Legislature that received bipartisan praise [and] Hempstead Town support, and that BDG is now obligated to consider all of its options in the days to come.”
Many new developers may come forward in the wake of Curran’s decision, and “Blumenfeld is definitely within their right to come back,” Abrahams said. “I would encourage them to come back.”