Friday, May 24, 2013

Ratner asserts Nassau Coliseum would gain from "iconic" appearance, claims he didn't have inside track, won't talk about indirect subsidies

There are a couple of interesting tidbits in Coliseum rebranding needed: Ratner, a 5/23/13 article in The Island Now about Forest City Ratner's plans for the Nassau Coliseum.

First, the esthetic argument:
But for Ratner, the renovation is about more than programming or seating capacity. The Coliseum, an imposing concrete structure overlooking the Hempstead Turnpike, needs a complete aesthetic overhaul, Ratner said, to make it and planned surrounding developments inviting for both residents and performers.
“You want to rebrand it so an artist feels that its a cooler place to go,” Ratner said. “You want to go to a place that’s beautiful from outside to inside.
To achieve that, Ratner’s development team includes SHoP Architects, which designed the Barclays Center, and Gensler, an international design firm which would revamp the arena’s interior.
His group’s focus on redesigning the arena separates the proposal from competing bids by Madison Square Garden, Blumenfeld Development Group and New York Sports LLC, Ratner said. Ratner has compared the redesigned Coliseum’s importance to Nassau to the Eiffel Tower and the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“It becomes iconic instantly.” Ratner said. “I don’t know that the other proposals dealt with that.”
This may be Ratner's strongest selling point, even if the numbers--and no developer's numbers should be taken at face value--may favor one of the three competing plans, notably that led by Madison Square Garden.

Ratner plays defense: inside track

The article states:
And though the county did consult with Ratner after the Islanders departure, he said his company gave verbal advice about the site and was not involved in the writing of the request for proposal that the county released in March.
“I sat down with the people in the county and said this is what works. I think you can do stuff outside, I think you should cut it down to 12, 13,000,” Ratner said. “That’s what I did.”
Ratner also dismissed the idea that his firm gained any advantage over competitors by advising the county prior to the issuing of the request for proposal.
“All three developers had been in the county for more years [than me,]” said Ratner. “They all know that Coliseum. They know the entertainment better than I do, they know the population better than I do. So that’s just silly.”
It's not silly at all. His firm gained a relationship with the country government.

Ratner plays coy: subsidies

The article states:
And while Ratner’s group, like the three competing developers, have said they will not seek any public funding for the project, Ratner would not comment on whether the county’s Industrial Development Agency would offer financing, saying that was up to the county.
Sure, there may be no direct funding, but will there be governmental assistance: almost surely.

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