As plans for the $1.5 billion Nassau Hub project take shape, developers Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Global and RXR Realty are seeking input from members of the surrounding communities in order to create a successful live-work-play environment on the 72 acres of the site.
Since January, Eric Alexander, the director of Vision Long Island, and the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce have been working together to host intimate meetings among community leaders, elected officials and representatives of BSE&G and RXR.
The most recent meeting was on June 26 at the Uniondale Fire Department Headquarters and included residents of Westbury, Uniondale, Hempstead, Garden City and Carle Place.
“These are folks with a track record of getting things done in our region already,” Alexander said of the developers as he introduced David Garten and Rebecca D’Eloia, both officials with RXR Realty.
Garten prefaced the presentation by saying that the purpose of such meetings, which he called “listening tours,” is to improve the development plan with the input of the communities it will affect.
D’Eloia said that they have already taken into consideration some recommendations from previous meetings. After hearing suggestions to add more open spaces and greenery, RXR plans to add public gardens atop parking garages and have added them to the most recent conceptual illustrations of the completed development.
D’Eloia said the development would be “completely complimentary” to neighboring projects. “We’d like to have retailers at this site that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Rebecca D’Eloia, of RXR Realty. She referenced Manhattan businesses like the American Girl Store, where families could spend a day together.
The site will also include 500 units of housing, which the developers described would be geared for young professionals and include free housekeeping, fully furnished rooms and a common dining hall.
Some residents weren’t satisfied with the idea, however, and one said, aloud, that it didn’t seem different from a college dorm. “I’ve lived in a dorm already, that’s not something I want to do again,” said the commenter, who wanted to remain anonymous.
“It’s not for everybody, but I do think that there’s a market for it,” Garten said. “At the end of the day, Nassau County needs housing. We need to find more ways to build that housing and retain young people.”
Also called into question was the proposed community benefits agreement and plans to include job training, apprenticeship and other programs with local schools and organizations.
Joe Parisi, president of Council of East Meadow Community Organizations, said that he wishes to see a more detailed explanation of how such programs would be retainable.
Garten said that RXR does not specialize in such fields, but seeks to partner with trustworthy companies that do.
“I thought, overall it was a good meeting for RXR to understand the sentiments of the community,” Parisi said. “I feel they need to understand all the issues that exist here. Even if their proposed development may not be able to solve all the issues, I think it’s important for RXR to understand what they are.”