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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ-The plan to build a new arena in downtown Newark for the NBA Nets and NHL Devils is far from a done deal, but the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority isn’t waiting around to figure out what to do with the existing Continental Airlines Arena here. Today is the deadline for submission of redevelopment proposals for the property, which occupies 104 acres within the 700-acre Meadowlands Sports Complex.

The RFP, which went out last July, is expected to attract at least three major proposals, perhaps more. The proposals are expected to be formally unveiled to the public on Thursday, kicking off a process that is hoped to “final and best offers” on the table by the end of the year.

Details have filtered out for least three major proposals involving some of the biggest names in real estate. One would have Hartz Mountain Industries of nearby Secaucus teaming up with Forest City Ratner to produce a four million-sf mixed-use complex that would revolve around a new convention center in the 500,000-sf range. Another would pair the Virginia-based Mills Corp. with Cranford, NJ-based Mack-Cali Realty to develop a retail/entertainment mix of more than two million sf, possibly including a minor league baseball.

Also, Donald Trump has indicated that he would propose an auto racing complex, partnering with the International Speedway Corp. Another name mentioned for a possible submission is Advance Realty of Bedminster, NJ.

In its RFP, which projects construction to start by the middle of 2005, the NJSEA said it “envisions…a multi-use destination at the arena site that capitalizes on existing uses at the Meadowlands and expands the product mix in a manner that is complementary to those uses, without materially competing with existing business in the Meadowlands District….the Authority is receptive to some or all of the following uses: dining, entertainment, retail, hotel, office, exposition facilities, recreation, parking and transportation centers.”

The RFP also proposed an arrangement that would involve the NJSEA’s continuing ownership of the land, leasing it on a long-term basis to the chosen developer.

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