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Thread: Nassau Coliseum development

  1. #46

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    Out of this wilderness
    If done right, Coliseum area redevelopment could be a model for revitalizing suburbs

    By Justin Davidson
    STAFF WRITER

    March 19, 2006

    Here is what the new frontier looks like: a bleak tundra of parking lots moated by roads, with the bunkered mound of an arena in the middle. It is wishfully called the Nassau Hub: acre after unloved acre of fallow asphalt built according to some long forgotten logic, waiting to be redeemed. On game days and concert nights, crowds make their fitful migrations from their cars to the leaky concrete shell of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Otherwise this hub without a center is a place few people go. Who would want to?

    The Hub's self-appointed savior is Thomas Suozzi, the Nassau County executive and gubernatorial candidate who sees a high-rise future in its depopulated expanse. On Thursday, he anointed the team of computer magnate Charles Wang and Reckson Associates to develop the 77-acre wilderness in Uniondale and make it bloom with new office towers, parks, apartment buildings, a minor league baseball stadium and 1,000 hotel rooms.

    Success will be measured not just in money, but also in whether the place can prod people to leave their cars.

    "It's only a par-five hole from EAB Plaza to the Coliseum, but nobody would ever think of walking that," Suozzi said in an interview. "We need to take our assets and connect them, so that they're not islands anymore. It's not so much about creating new spaces as it is making use of the existing ones."

    If the megalopolis that stretches from Virginia to Massachusetts is to expand any further, it will be into areas like this. America's oldest cities do not grow outward in concentric circles, but by leapfrogging and doubling back. Nassau County suffers from its particular plagues of high taxes and housing shortages, but its basic problem is the same as the rest of America's: how to adapt the picket-fence dream to accommodate the coming multitudes.

    The struggle with density takes place in many parts of Long Island, on every scale -- from Suozzi's grand scheme to the proposed redevelopment of downtown Riverhead, to the doomed vision of a semi-private new town on the site of the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center, to the much tinier proposal to tear down historic Huntington Townhouse and replace it with fresh condos, to the immigrant day laborers jammed by the dozen into small houses in Farmingdale. The solutions lie at least partly in architecture.

    So the stakes for the Hub are even higher than the enormity of the lot or the proposed $1.6-billion price tag would suggest. Following Suozzi's lead could give the entire New York metro region a model for managing growth and revitalizing older suburbs. The county cannot continue to let the asphalt plain around the Coliseum sit and fester. Sprinkling it with gabled houses on half-acre lots is not a reasonable option, either.

    The real choice is between aiming for design distinction and building an expanse of money-making blandness that extends Long Island's legacy of architectural mediocrity. Doing it wrong could plop a slice of Albany down into the middle of Nassau County. Even getting the project half-right would anger many people who moved to the suburbs precisely to escape the urban intensity that Suozzi is promoting with the epic name of "The New Suburbia." The best way to win this argument is by making the place inarguably excellent.

    For now, the version of the New Suburbia on offer looks more like the Old Anywhere. The master plan for the hub resembles the rapidly expanding tendrils of Washington, D.C., such as Reston Town Center in Reston, Va. Those are middling models, financially successful but bland and reserved for the affluent. The Nassau Hub has yet to be designed, which means it can still aspire to be better.

    The plan could die a thousand deaths by committee before the steam shovels start to grind. The county legislature and the Town of Hempstead both need to approve it. Bringing architects and citizens into the process can make any project more combustible, but it would also increase the flow of imaginative thinking.

    "Ideas are sorely needed," said Paul Bentel, a partner in the Locust Valley-based architectural firm of Bentel & Bentel. "I agree with Suozzi that we're at the threshold of a new era and we can't go into it with an old set of ideas. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Hub were a physical manifestation of that rhetoric?"

    To prevent the creation of a generic herd of boxes, Suozzi should immediately obligate Wang to do two things to boost the creativity factor. The first is to organize a charrette -- a workshop lasting several days, in which experts and citizens bat around ideas that could range from proposals for a full-scale model of the Eiffel Tower to debate of the design of lampposts. (For more details on how this can work, see www.charretteinstitute.org.) These real-estate revival meetings can provide cover to developers who solicit input they intend to ignore, but they also allow ideas to ferment and passions to emerge.

    Second, the county should launch an architectural competition. Neither politicians nor developers can possibly know all of Long Island's needs, or have the solutions to all its problems. Postponing design to a later stage will merely narrow the options.

    Depending on how it's run, a competition can attract freelance visionaries, global architects, crackpots and young geniuses looking for a break. The proposals that would come gushing in might be maddeningly impractical or offensively radical, but that is no reason to avoid soliciting ideas.

    A jury would pick a single winner, but legislators and developers could spread the wealth and award concurrent contracts to various other teams. One current model for such an organized brainstorming session is "Urban Voids," a competition run by the Van Alen Institute (www.vanalen.org) to drum up inventive uses for Philadelphia's pox of empty lots.

    Architecture is not just a pretty veneer pasted on after the important stuff is done. It shapes the way people move through space and how we feel about it. As builders in super-heated real-estate markets like Manhattan have begun to understand, good architecture may cost more, but it makes financial sense.

    "Developers know that if they bring in a name-brand architect, a 2 to 5 percent up-front investment in design can yield returns of 10 to 25 percent," said Peter Slatin, publisher of the online real-estate newsletter The Slatin Report. "This is an opportunity to take Long Island to another level and show what's possible."

    Suozzi, Wang and Reckson will have to navigate deftly between the need to promote their vision and the perception that they are jamming a large chunk of real-estate gristle down the public's throat. Long Islanders, with their traditional focus on the private house, have been historically averse to large-scale planning, which is why the Pilgrim State site in Islip remains a field of ruins.

    Robert Bruegmann, a professor at the University of Chicago and one of the few academic defenders of suburban growth in his book "Sprawl," said that the danger is that the Hub will be laid out with high-handed thoroughness instead of being allowed to grow organically.

    "As we've gotten more and more planning, the chorus of complaints has been growing louder and louder," he said. "The biggest fiascoes in planning have been done because of the perception that the market wasn't working, but they almost always backfire."

    The example of Ground Zero should give everyone pause. Four-and-a-half years after the World Trade Center fell, the project has been stalled and all idealism eviscerated by turf battles, greed and myopia. And that project is only one-fifth the size of the Hub.

    The future of Nassau depends on the antidotes to those toxins: flexibility and collective aspiration. The time has come to tweak the suburban dream.

    Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

  2. #47

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    damn i really wanted that 62 story tower. with a few shorter towers around it. but nassau county is so flat you would have been able to see that spike from glen cove on the north shore to jones beach on the south. it really needs a monumental landmark like that i think

  3. #48
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    Default Old Plainview

    Wang and Co. are also trying to develop another "town" on LI, and it looks pretty damn nice...

    www.oldplainview.com

  4. #49

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    June 30, 2006
    Garden City: Coliseum Development Moves Forward
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A $1.6 billion proposal to develop a 77-acre area around the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum inched closer to reality yesterday when the Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, signed a "memorandum of understanding" with the project's developers. The memorandum allows the developers to seek zoning approval for the project from the Town of Hempstead. In addition to renovating the sports and concert arena, the proposal calls for a housing, office and retail complex.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  5. #50

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    I still feel this plan is deeply flawed. There is no planned transit service, and buses are not going to cut it for such a large development.

  6. #51

    Cool Nassau County, Long Island

    I'm not sure if any of you are aware of the fact, that Nassau County no longer has an Office of Cultural Development.

    Cultural activities are the heart of civilization. They include music, dance, theater, and Visual Arts like sculpture, painting and the like. Cultural activities are also a very good source of revenue. It can bring participants in from surrounding areas or even surrounding states.

    Nassau County should turn THIS area....near the Coliseum into a CULTURAL HUB. It would greatly ease the tax burden and increase interest into the area. We would no longer have to stand int he shadow of "stupid" Manhattan.

    There is so much talent available right here on Long Island. We could stake OUR claim as the Cultural Place to be.

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pandadoll View Post
    We would no longer have to stand int he shadow of "stupid" Manhattan.
    Why so much hate for Manhattan?

    What has Manhattan ever do to prevent cultural advancement on LI?

  8. #53

    Cool LONG ISLAND-Nassau County

    Sorry, you misunderstood....it is not..."hate". It's just, that, we need our own IDENTITY here....

    Long Island is a great place & it gets a bum rap.

    Lots of folks complain about "how it's changed".....well, the answer, isn't to leave......the answer would be to STAY.....and maintain the area that you love so well. It's like, when Great people die....they are no longer with us, to influence. This happens on a regular basis.... It is a fact, that life=change....but SOME things are nice.....we want to keep them. So, in order to have them change, yet stay the SAME, in some respect, you need to remain in the game. Long Island is a wonderful place.....space is limited. Over development needs to be STOPPED if the quality of life is to be maintained in any form.

    Economic growth is really unnecessary....grow-grow-grow......how annoying is that? You need to be able to support yourself. The heck with growing....whatever.

    Yeah, well grow this!

    I just feel that you have to be in it to win it....and if you aren't part of the solution...you're part of the problem. Talk is cheap! (wow, could I have gotten any more cliches into that statement?)

  9. #54
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    That's all fine but why did you have to say something bad about Manhattan.

    I don't see what Manhattan has anything to do with LI getting cultural and arts institutions.

    No one is stopping you guys from getting your own identity.

  10. #55

    Default Nassau County - Long Island

    Actually, that is NOT true...

    The Long Island Arts Alliance is working to try to carve out an IDENTITY for LONG ISLAND and the cultural arts.

    Maybe.....you should check your facts.....it isn't easy living in the shadow of Manhattan looming overhead......

    Nassau County doesn't even have an OFFICE OF CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT, so it is difficult to get everyone on the same page....for support for each other.....

    Also, Long Island is a vast area....diverse cultures, spread out all over the 115 mile long stretch. So many cultural arts groups....unbelievable.....

    They all need to get on the same page to support each other....they all do different things in different places....but, they step on each others toes.....accidentally, sometimes.

  11. #56

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    You don't need to make negative statements about Manhattan in order to dicsuss the positive statements about what LI should be. Each place has pros and cons.

    Panda, I see you are an artist and feel strongly about this issue. What steps are you taking to make a difference?

  12. #57

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    Development is inevitable, especially in the Nassau Hub as well as at Pilgrim. Using the area around the Nassau Coliseum SOLELY for culture is insane. The space is huge. Also, if you want a large cultural center for ALL of Long Island, it should not be so close to NYC. It should be more centrally located, like at Heartland Town Square(the proposed development at Pilgrim in Deer Park).

    There is plenty of space for expansion of cultural places on museum row in the nassau hub by NCC. Why seperate culture from museum row?


    And just for the record, I'm strongly against development on the north fork. The south fork is screwed(though I dont want to see high rises go up), but the north fork still has a fighting chance of keeping its uniqueness.

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pandadoll View Post
    Actually, that is NOT true...
    The Long Island Arts Alliance is working to try to carve out an IDENTITY for LONG ISLAND and the cultural arts.
    Maybe.....you should check your facts.....it isn't easy living in the shadow of Manhattan looming overhead
    That kind of rationale is seriously retarded.

    So how is that Manhattan's fault?

    Is Manhattan suppose to strive to be terrible just so LI doesn't have to look up to it???!!!

    You sound just like Cinderella's ugly step sister, who hates Cinderella just because she is prettier than her.

    I'd be worried my own psyche if I were you Pandadoll.

  14. #59

    Cool Nassau County as a Cultural Hub

    The idea of having it by the Coliseum is so that it is by the Museums.....and colleges. The center would also cater to education.

    Design.....is.....art. Everything anyone has ever touched.....
    had to go through the mind and hands of an artistic person.

    Don't insult the craft.......it isn't attractive.

    I am against development on the North Shore....well...anywhere. But, we should be able to have "smart" development in the areas that are already cursed to that fate.

    We aren't BLAMING Manhattan.....you still don't get it.

    We don't want to be "closer to New York City".....yuk! The idea is to be HERE.......Ooooph! Forget about it....you just don't understand.

    There are more important things than what we do immediately.......

    There is the FUTURE of forever!

  15. #60
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    No Pandadoll, you're the one that's not getting it.

    Instead spouting childish insults like "yuk" or "stupid," why don't you just explain things in a more intelligent manner?

    I understand perfectly what you were trying (albeit crudely) to say the first time around, just didn't care for your unnecessary put-downs of Manhattan.

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