News of the latest proposals for development in the area around Belmont Park has spread over the past month, and especially since the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development meeting on March 11. Residents have been voicing their opinions and raising questions about where these proposals came from, and which one might most benefit the community.
One proposal calls for a supermarket with surrounding retail shops, and another features a soccer stadium with a hotel and restaurants. Another development concept includes a spa with surrounding restaurants. The Engel Berman Group is proposing the supermarket plan, the soccer franchise the New York Cosmos is pushing the plans for a stadium and the Blumenfeld Development Group is promoting the spa plan.
ECSD Chairwoman Sandra Smith, who did not know about the spa proposal before the March 11 meeting, said that the Blumenfeld and Berman proposals were similar in that the major fixtures of each would be built on the south side of Belmont Park. The Cosmos’ development would make use of both sides of the park, with the stadium, a youth soccer field and a community park on the south side, and the Long Island Rail Road station, restaurants and shopping on the north side.
Smith told the Herald that the “Cosmos proposal is everything the community wanted, as stated in our Vision Plan, with a bonus, the soccer stadium! Our plan talked about a hotel, restaurants, retail stores, all of which is part of the Cosmos proposal. Also included in their proposal, that a lot of the community wants, is year-round access to the LIRR.”
The Cosmos played in the North American Soccer League from 1971 to 1985, and featured superstar Pele. They announced in 2012 that they would be revived, and would return to the NASL to play in its 2013 Fall Championship.
The project the franchise favors, dubbed Elmont Town Crossings, features a 25,000-seat soccer stadium that would slope downward from west to east. It would host 30 to 50 events stadium annually, which would coincide with major horseracing events.
The plan also calls for a youth soccer field, a 175-room hotel, a 4.3-acre community park, nine restaurants and nearly 250,000 square feet of retail space, and would provide $2.5 million for new and refurbished soccer fields in Nassau County.
The Cosmos’ development team estimates that the $400 million project would create more than 500 construction jobs in addition to 3,000 permanent jobs, and that construction would generate $200 million in annual revenue. Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover said that in addition to helping the community financially, one of the most important things about the project is that it would be privately funded, at no cost to taxpayers.
“It’s important that people understand that our stadium proposal is a mixed-use development which will have a beneficial economic impact all year round,” Stover said. “[The proposed park and fields] will help beautify the community and give people places to play and relax. We also think this development will help promote and improve Belmont racetrack as a sports-entertainment destination.”
The Cosmos’ proposal was submitted to the Empire State Development Corporation on Jan. 11, and is awaiting approval. Construction could begin in 2014, retail establishments would open in the autumn of 2015 and the stadium would open in the spring of 2016.