Just weeks before the Cuomo administration takes over the New York Racing Association, state officials are moving to sell what they say are two underused parcels of land at Belmont Park.
The decision to sell the land, which totals 36 acres, was made Aug. 30 at a meeting of the state's Franchise Oversight Board, which has wide authority over NYRA finances. NYRA gave up its ownership claims for Belmont, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course in a 2008 deal that extended its exclusive franchise to operate racing at the facilities.
The oversight board, working with the Cuomo administration's economic development agency, will release during the week of Sept. 2 a request for proposals for parties interested in developing the sites, according to a spokesman for the governor's budget division. Robert Megna, the governor's budget director, is chairman of the Franchise Oversight Board.
Both parcels, the administration said, are parking areas that remain unused throughout the year except on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day.
The first parcel, which is eight acres, sits in an area next to railroad tracks; its potential uses can include lodging, resort, and spa facilities, or "any use complementary to horse racing,'" officials said. The second parcel, which is 28 acres in size, may be developed into retail, lodging, professional office space, or institutional or educational use.
The administration said there can be no residential development or video lottery terminal facility on either of the two sites. The possible uses were established in a ground lease agreement in 2008 between the state and NYRA.
A NYRA spokesman declined comment on the possible land deal.
A resolution approved by the Franchise Oversight Board said the state wants to "explore opportunities" to develop the parcels in a competitive process, thereby holding out the possibility the land would not be developed.