Belmont: Win, Place, Shop

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For way too long, the Belmont Racetrack complex was a vast wasteland of what was and what could be. Rumors swirled for years of development ranging from a new Coliseum, a new Mets stadium, casinos and even a soccer stadium. Months turned to years and nothing really happened at the 430-acre site. That was until former Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped in and fast-tracked {no pun intended} this along with other long-stalled projects like the renovating the Tappan Zee Bridge, and LaGuardia Airport along with implementing the LIRR Third track expansion.

American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Belmont Stakes and the first Triple Crown since 1978 at Belmont Park for trainer Bob Baffert and owner Zayat Stables.
(Photo by Mike Lizzi/CC BY-SA 2.0)


With Cuomo long gone, the fruits of his labor and the anticipation of many are being realized. UBS Arena is now open and home to the Islanders, The Main Grandstand will be demolished in late 2024 and rebuilt, thus freeing up valuable land, and a hotel near the arena looms on the horizon. Lost in all this activity is the development south of Hempstead Turnpike and easily visible from the adjacent Cross Island Parkway. Flying under the radar is the future home of the Belmont Park Retail Village.

While negotiations went back and forth during the development stages, construction is well underway on the project and is slated for a Summer 2024 completion. As of now, the Belmont retail site is said to be up to 150 stores and restaurants totaling roughly 350,000 square feet. It is a prime location bordering Queens and conveniently accessible from major roads and public transportation. The developers are planning on this being a year-round draw and not just on event days at the arena or racetrack. More likely, the retail complex would be the icing on the cake for people going to events and making a day of it. The big concern still remains parking and even with a new parking garage, this issue may not be totally resolved until the Grandstand redevelopment is completed in about three years.

Information on stores and restaurants leased to the site has been tough to gather, however sources have dropped a few crumbs on tenants possibly opening at this site. Some of the retail names being bandied about include Nordstrom Rack, Macy’s Backstage and American Eagle. The plan looks to be to position this center to include a number of international and upscale brands, so it would come as no surprise if the likes of Polo, Armani and Versace turn up there. Restaurants said to be in the pipeline would include a Dave & Busters, Shake Shack and a Yard House.

It would seem these developers are not targeting nearby Green Acres as their prime competition for this retail village. Rather, they seem to be going after the clientele of The Americana in Manhasset and Roosevelt Field in Garden City. No matter what the final tenant list looks like,it’s great to see Long Island retail stepping up its game. The next few years should be very interesting here with the redevelopment of Sunrise Mall, the changes at Samanea and the expansion at Broadway Commons with the dormant Macy’s. No matter what side of the political aisle you sit, progress benefits everyone. For too long, this giant tract of land only came to life once a year on “Stakes Day.” This development represents jobs while putting the site back on the tax rolls and most importantly, creating a world-class facility that can be marveled at by visitors globally.

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