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Nassau Hub development plan unfolds at county hearing

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The proposed $1.5 billion commercial and residential plan to develop the land surrounding the Nassau Coliseum, known as the Nassau Hub, saw support from stakeholders and legislators alike when developers pitched it at a public hearing on Nov. 27.

Partners Brett Yormark, the chief executive officer of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, and Scott Rechler, the chairman and chief executive officer of RXR Realty, referred to their vision of the property as a “new suburbia” that will convert the Hub’s 60 acres of open space into a walkable downtown and entertainment district.

The plan includes 600,000 square feet of life sciences, research and development space, 200,000 square feet of entertainment and experiential retail, 500 units of multi-family housing, two hotels and open public space.

One of the entertainment options includes a 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot music venue called Long Island Fame, which Rechler said would serve as a hub to showcase homegrown talent.

Nassau County is seeking $20 million in state funding for three foot bridges and another $10 million to $20 million for rapid transit to the Mineola and Hempstead Long Island Rail Road stations.

“This will continue to be a transparent process, and we welcome all key stakeholder comments,” Yormark said. The partners are seeking to sign a community benefits agreement that will provide financial incentives to those living in the surrounding area.

Rechler was greeted with applause when he added that they intend to sign a project labor agreement that will ensure union labor is used on the development.

With a history of vested interests in Nassau Coliseum and the area surrounding it, Rechler said that he and Yormark’s proposal stands out from other Hub development projects that did not come to fruition. “This isn’t just about success on the site,” Rechler said. “It’s about the success that this site brings to Long Island and Nassau County, and we’re here for the long run.”

The hearing came the day after Northwell Health of New Hyde Park was announced as the anchor for the site, with a proposed 225,000-square-foot Innovation Center. Support for the project also came from the administration at Hofstra University, which works directly with Northwell Health.

“We believe it’s the right concept at the right time and in the right place,” said Melissa Connelly, the vice president for university relations. “We’re especially optimistic about the future of the area.”

The developers drew criticism from lawmakers, however, when they announced that they might seek a tax break to reduce construction costs of the residential units. Rechler specifically proposed a payment in lieu of taxes agreement that legislators said could hurt the economy at a time when residents are preparing to face a $10,000 federal tax cap on state and local deductions.

Rechler contested that a PILOT would be the tradeoff in the fight for affordable housing. The 500 units will include micro-apartments with multiple bedrooms to attract millennial-aged residents who cannot afford a home of their own.

Next month, the lease and development plan agreements set forth by the developers will come to a vote before the county Legislature. If approved, the first phase of the project, which includes the construction of two state-funded parking garages with 3,400 spots, the Northwell Health innovation Center and half of the housing and entertainment units, it is expected to begin in 18 to 24 months.