Long Island Cheat Sheet: Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai could buy Nassau Coliseum… & more

By Aidan Gardiner | April 01, 2019 02:30PM

Clockwise from top left: The Nassau Coliseum and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center could soon be sold to Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai, Long Island’s fourth marijuana dispensary opens in East Farmingdale, more than $100M in tax refunds have been paid out to Nassau County property owners since December and Suffolk County officials pitch a revitalization effort in East Patchogue.

Alibaba co-founder could acquire Nassau Coliseum
Joseph Tsai, a New York lawyer and co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant, is in talks with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to buy the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the New York Post reported. If the deal goes through, Tsai would become the third lease holder of the remodeled arena since Nassau County officials selected Forest City Ratner to redevelop the county-owned Coliseum in 2013, according to Long Island Business News. Prokhorov, via his Onexim Sports and Entertainment, bought 85 percent of the Coliseum in 2015. A spokesperson for BSE Global, a subsidiary of Onexim that manages both the Barclays Center and Coliseum, refuted the story, but declined to elaborate. Nassau County spokeswoman Christine Geed said she had no knowledge of the potential sale. “We do not forsee any changes in the Coliseum operator or in the development plans,” she told LIBN. If a deal did go through, the Nassau legislature would still have to approve amendments to the Coliseum’s lease. An amendment added this year also forbids the current lease holder from requesting a reassignment of the lease until 2024. The sale could also affect RXR Realty’s plans for the so-called Nassau Hub, $1.5 billion mixed-use development on 66 acres around the Coliseum, which would eventually be replaced with a new facility that would be home to the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders. RXR didn’t respond to LIBN’s request for comment and Geed said she didn’t know of any changes to plans for the Hub. [TRD]

LI’s fourth marijuana dispensary opens in East Farmingdale
Manhattan-based Acreage Holdings has opened Long Island’s fourth medical marijuana dispensary in East Farmingdale, Newsday reported. The dispensary will be an outpost of an Acreage-owned chain called The Botanist. It will be the cannabis investor’s fourth such shop in New York State, joining other locations in Buffalo, Middletown and Queens. Acreage runs another 24 dispensaries in 18 states. Acreage was interested in opening a location in Long Island because it felt the area was “underserved,” the company’s chief marketing officer Harris Damashek told Newsday. Suffolk County’s only other dispensary, in Riverhead, opened in January 2016 when such facilities were first permitted under state law. Nassau County has dispensaries in Lake Success and Carle Place, the latter of which opened earlier this year. The East Farmingdale opening is part of an official statewide push to double the number of dispensaries to 40. Nassau and Suffolk counties each anticipate getting another dispensary, but as of yet don’t know precisely where. The openings come as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delayed plans pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana due to considerable complications related to their rollout. Leaders in both Nassau and Suffolk counties had said they planned to opt out of any legal marijuana plan. The Real Deal reported this week on some of the potential ramifications for New York’s real estate sector in the event that legalization becomes a reality. [TRD]

Developer gets $21M tax cut for Deer Park apartment complex
The Babylon Industrial Development Agency agreed to the Engel Burman Group’s request for a $21 million property tax cut on a 200-unit apartment complex for residents 55 and older that the developer will build on the former site of George Washington School in Deer Park, Newsday reported. Instead of the $43 million that the developed property would have yielded, Engel Burman will now pay only $22 million in property taxes over the next 30 years. The Garden City-based developer is still in the process of buying the site from the Deer Park School District and has yet to demolish the former school building located at 220 Washington Avenue. Engel Burman, which specializes in senior living centers, plans to spend about $30 million to build 14 buildings containing two-bedroom apartments, a recreation center and school district offices. The 10-acre parcel will also include a single-family home built by Engel Developer, as well as 350 parking spaces for senior residents. All necessary approvals have been secured and the project is awaiting the final go-ahead from Suffolk County. The school district wants to close on the sale by the end of June, said Christopher Kent, a partner at Farrell Fritz, a Long Island law firm advising Engel Burman on its plans for the complex. [Newsday]

Nassau property owners nab more than $100M in tax refunds
Nassau County has refunded about $100 million since December to residential and commercial property owners who won tax disputes dating back to 2004, according to Newsday. The funds were paid to lawyers and representatives of the owners between Dec. 21 and March 4.  The largest payout when to Koeppel Martone & Leistman, a Mineola-based law firm, which received $40.76 million. Those funds are poised to be divvied up between more than 500 property owners, the law firm’s managing partner Donald Leistman told the outlet. The next four highest payments went to four other law firms: Herman Katz Cangemi & Clyne in Melville ($18.45 million); Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman in East Meadow ($17.32 million); Schroder & Strom in Mineola ($11.73 million); and Cronin, Cronin, Harris & O’Brien in Uniondale ($11.66 million). Nassau borrowed $100 million in December in an effort to wipe out its $360 million backlog in tax settlements. Commercial properties are to get 80 percent of that loaned money, which must be approved by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. Most of the payouts came from that borrowed money, but nearly $30 million came out of the county’s operating budget, Newsday reported. Another $20.5 million came out of the Disputed Assessment Fund, which commercial property owners pay into so they can fund tax challenge refunds. The fund still has $184 million in it for claims settled in 2017 and 2018. Newsday noted that Nassau officials plan to borrow another $200 million for refunds this year, but in order to do so the county needs to get approval from its finance authority and local legislature. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran spoke with The Real Deal in February about the county’s property tax plans, which saw New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo make a visit to Long Island last week to pitch a permanent cap on property taxes. [Newsday]

Suffolk officials pitch East Patchogue for revitalization
Officials in Suffolk County want to launch an effort to revitalize a mile-long stretch of convenience stores, a health center and vacant properties like the old Plaza movie theater along Main Street in East Patchogue, Newsday reported. Officials reportedly feel emboldened by the recent successful revitalization of downtown Patchogue, which has brought $693 million in economic growth to region, as noted in a report late last year. The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) plans to find developers who can build a mix of retail and housing. Ultimately, local officials want to eliminate vacant buildings and replace them with upscale apartments and retail complexes, according to county legislator Robert Calarco. According to a study, developers could quadruple the amount of office space in the area from the 11,400 square feet it has now to 42,000 square feet. Retail could also be doubled from 47,000 square feet to 96,000 square feet. The study for the IDA was assembled by the Manhattan-based Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit urban policy research organization. The revitalization effort in East Patchogue is still in its early stages and no formal plans have been submitted to town officials. The project would require some zoning changes to allow for housing and new retail. [Newsday]