Long Island Business News
March 25, 2016
It seems that we have been talking forever about the redevelopment of the 77 acres surrounding the Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The fact is we have. It’s been over 50 years since June of 1961 when Mitchell Air Force Base closed and the property turned over to Nassau County for redevelopment.
Since then a continuous and contentious debate has ensued over what to do with the historic air field. The debate has resulted in little action; however that will change should Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano have his way.
Mangano has a vision for the site, now called the Hub. He would have more than a smaller arena and entertainment complex to replace the existing coliseum. Mangano wants to transform the remaining property surrounding the arena into a research and development center for health, bio-tech and science companies. With significant potential private investment from Sloan Kettering and The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Mangano has an argument to advance when he asks New York State for $225 million for the tiered parking that is critical to bringing all this economic activity to central Nassau County and the nearby Village of Hempstead.
It won’t be an easy lift for Mangano because the $225 million he is asking for is half the $450 million set aside for Long Island projects in the 2016 New York State budget. However it is hard to ignore that the tiered parking is the lynchpin for the creation of an estimated 18,550 direct and indirect permanent jobs and the more than $2.8 billion in economic impact that would be generated for New York State.
Equally hard to ignore is that Mangano’s vision already conforms to the Master Plan approved by the Town of Hempstead, thus making it easier to transform the blacktop that is now the HUB into a destination for employers that complement existing educational, healthcare, financial, and research and development organizations.
Also not to be overlooked in this high stakes gambit for major economic development dollars is that the HUB will attract the higher paying jobs sought by the Long Island millennials who have the skills to access higher paying jobs but are struggling to find jobs that meet their salary and employment expectations.
The time for debating what to do with Mitchell Field is over. Mangano’s vision can’t be any more shovel-ready.