Belmont Park Development RFP OK’d by Franchise Oversight Board

In a 16-minute meeting Friday, July 28, the Franchise Oversight Board (FOB) that oversees the racing franchise and properties associated with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) reviewed and approved the release of a request for proposal (RFP) that covers long-term leasing for development of a maximum of approximately 43 acres on and adjacent to Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. This RFP differs from one released in 2012, in that it adds for development approximately seven acres of land currently under lease to NYRA. It is expected the New York Islanders will participate in the RFP to develop a sports facility on the proposed site.

FOB Chairman Robert Williams explained the goal for the RFP, developed by Empire State Development (ESD) for the board, is to

Strengthen Belmont as a premier destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality on Long Island … In doing so, the projects must be complementary to horse racing and parimutuel wagering, and, maximize the economic benefits to the state while minimizing the state’s economic and environmental risk.

There are two parcels of property covered by the RFP. Site A is approximately 8 acres adjacent to the Belmont Park Clubhouse and bordered to the west by the Belmont Park spur of the Long Island Rail Road. Site B is across the street from Belmont Park comprising approximately 28 acres along Hempstead Turnpike.. In its current iteration the RFP offers a Site A-alternative option of adding seven acres – probably adjacent to Belmont Park’s Grandstand and Paddock area. Developers are required to submit plans that include both A and B sites; whether or not they submit plans for the additional seven acres for Site A is optional.

The ESD offered no rationale for the decision to add actively-leased property to the RFP. When asked about the actual configuration of Site A-alternative, the ESD representative said, “We haven’t prescribed in this RFP how this 15 acres is put together … (we are) flexible in terms of how that 15 acres is put together.”

ESD representatives said at this stage there was no expectation for bidders to consult with NYRA concerning the impact of the development project on NYRA’s activities. With regard to incorporating land already leased to NYRA as part of a development proposal, the ESD representative said any arrangement would have to be worked out in that scenario.

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