West Thames Street bridge enters final stages of approval (maybe)

Final plans for the West Thames Street Pedestrian Bridge were proposed to some controversy, though it did manage to avoid being delayed again. The primary concern was the decision to install elevators instead of a wheelchair-friendly ramp, with critics stating that nearby outdoor elevators are prone to malfunctioning.

A spokesman for the city stated that the elevators would be more “technologically advanced” than existing machines and that important components would be shielded from the elements. As of now the plans await approval from New York’s Public Design Commission.

The design phase for the project is estimated to cost roughly $2 million, with the following construction phase estimated to be roughly $27.5 million. The bill is to be divided in some fashion between the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC).

According to a spokesperson, the BPCA would additionally be responsible for upkeep of the bridge and has so far set aside $7.5 million to go towards the bridge. The BPCA board includes several New York real estate veterans that should bring valuable experience to the table, including Lester Petracca of Triangle Equities and Carl Mattone of the Mattone Group.

While final designs and a detailed construction schedule have not yet been approved, the project seems to have enough momentum and confirmed funding to finally become a reality. Construction is tentatively hoped to start in fall of 2014 with the bridge opening in late 2016.

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Locals Weigh in on Proposed Belmont Soccer Stadium

The prospect of a brand new soccer stadium being constructed at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York has locals and state officials weighing in on what this would mean for the community. According to CBS Local News, the Cosmos are pushing hard for a “25,000-seat Stadium near Belmont Park,” which has created a division within the Elmont community.

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Photo courtesy Cosmos Stadium

Earlier this year, the New York Cosmos, in conjunction with the Queens-based Carl Mattone, a Real Estate Group, submitted a proposal to build a new Soccer stadium at Belmont Park, which included the construction of a massive sports complex nearby the racetrack, as well as retail space. Avid New York sports fans are probably familiar with the Cosmos, despite their decades-long hiatus as a team. The reformation of the soccer team, with a stadium to match, is believed by many to be a step forward for New York sports culture, as well as a means to further improve the economy in New York, and Elmont, specifically.

Others would disagree. Many community members are concerned that the construction of a stadium could create problems like increased traffic, and that the economic benefits won’t be long lasting. “The soccer executives get something out of this deal, the state gets something out of this deal; however the community doesn’t get what it needs,” explains Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages.

However, the Cosmos insist that “development will help re-energize Belmont and the surrounding community with 3,000 full-time jobs, 500 construction jobs, a restaurant row and a 4.5-acre park,” reports CBS. Not only would soccer matches draw in community members and visitors, it would provide jobs, and elevate the overall status of Elmont, which reportedly doesn’t even have its own grocery store.

The Empire State Development Corporation is still evaluating incoming bids and is set to make its decision about the stadium any day now.

NY Cosmos Proposal For New Field

Belmont Park, the major Thoroughbred horse-racing facility located in Nassau County, could soon have a new neighbor. The New York Cosmos and the Mattone Group, a real estate and construction company, have submitted a proposal to the Empire State Development Corp. to build a new soccer stadium near Belmont Park racing track. The plan includes creating a sports complex at the race track and some retail space.

Belmont Park in Elmont is the home to one of the elite tracks in horse racing. Currently, it has a large parking lot that sits empty most of the time, and this proposal could change that.

The Cosmos are members of the North American Soccer League. If the plan goes through, it’d be the first field for the team in more than 30 years. The team is looking at a long-term strategy and is seeking a stadium of its own to play home games.
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The proposal submitted by the Cosmos and Mattone Group includes  a 25,000-seat stadium, a 175-room hotel, about 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 4.3-acre community park. Construction is expected to cost around $374 million, which will be funded privately.

Michael Mattone, chief financial officer of the Mattone Group, said the stadium and retail complex would create more than 2,000 jobs through ongoing operation of the complex in addition to about 1,000 construction jobs. Mattone says so far its received a positive response during informal discussions at Elmont.

The Cosmos also agree.

“We also believe the stadium and multi-use complex will be extremely beneficial in helping to support the state’s vision to re-energize the Belmont Race Track and its surrounding community,” said Cosmos COO Erik Stover

According to the Cosmos, if the State accepts the proposal, the stadium would be completed by the end of 2015 and would open in spring 2016. Retail shops would be open in the fall of 2015.

The Mattone Group, a family business run by Joseph Mattone, Michael Mattone and Carl Mattone have developed other properties in the area including the Jamaica Center.