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Tower teammates

Wang, stymied by lawmakers in his plan to redevelop Coliseum, joins with Reckson to bolster his bid


September 29, 2005

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang teamed up with Reckson Associates Realty Corp. yesterday to redevelop the area around the Nassau Coliseum, adding muscle to a project that remains stalled before the county legislature.

Wang, co-founder of Islandia-based Computer Associates International, and Reckson chief executive Scott Rechler said they will split the at least $1 billion cost "50-50" to jointly develop residential, commercial and retail facilities.

The announcement of Wang's partnership with Reckson, the Melville- based real estate investment trust with holdings throughout the New York area, comes days before Monday's county deadline for competing development proposals.

Nassau's Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi agreed last October to lease Wang the 77 acres of county land for the project. But the legislators complained that Suozzi hadn't opened the bidding process to all developers and have yet to approve the plan, which includes a sports technology center, a state-of-the-art conference facility, and the signature structure, a 60-story building called the Lighthouse.

At Reckson's Omni building in Uniondale, Wang praised Rechler as a "titan" among real estate developers, with 1 million square feet of office space in the Nassau hub.

"This is public land and the project that is developed there must provide the most benefit to the public," Rechler said. "We believe that Charles' proposal achieves this objective."

Suozzi, who is seeking re-election Nov. 8, said Rechler is "obviously a serious developer and a serious player on Long Island." Rechler has contributed $15,000 to Suozzi's campaign.

Lawmakers and a competing developer offered mixed reactions. "If the developer can't talk Wang out of a 60-story building, then it's not a viable plan," said Gregory Peterson, the Republican candidate for county executive against Suozzi.

"This doesn't help him get the approval," said Minority Leader Peter Schmitt. "It doesn't change the fact that the process Suozzi went through is fatally flawed."

Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs of Woodbury called the joint venture "a smart move."

Last Wednesday, Suozzi called on other developers to meet with him. But only Vincent Polimeni, chairman and chief executive of The Polimeni Organization, attended. His firm, of Garden City, intends to submit a development proposal. "I'm still in the game," he said.

Wang's project also would require zoning approval by Republican- controlled Hempstead Town, where former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato is still a political power. D'Amato and Wang had a falling out, after D'Amato criticized the project.

But Rechler, who has contributed to Republicans, called D'Amato "an adviser." D'Amato didn't return calls for comment. "I haven't spoken with him, but I hope when I do he will see the light of Charles' plan," Rechler said.


Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.



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