Monday, July 12, 2010

Town of Hempstead to unveil their vision of Lighthouse Project

About 8 years ago, just 2 years after purchasing the Islanders, Charles Wang and partner Scott Rechler created a vision for development of Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding area. About 4 years ago, Nassau County on Long Island approved their vision by a 16-2 vote. After fighting with the Town of Hempstead (who now gets final say), and after several failed attempts in the previous 8 years to meet with the Town Supervisor Kate Murray, the town will finally unveil their vision of the Lighthouse Project today at a press conference.
The original plans called for an estimated $3.74 billion project that would be financed by the developers. It called for over 2,300 residential units, a sports complex with ice rinks, indoor soccer and more, a sports science center to be associated with Hofstra University and Nassau Community College, retail space, a hotel with a conference center, office buildings and many other features including a refurbished Nassau Coliseum. Wang's vision was that the Lighthouse Project could be a destination for people on Long Island and also a progressive change forward in our society that would help create over $70 million in tax revenue for the County annually and create over 19,000 permanent jobs. Wang has expressed his displeasure many times in the past how young people (ages 25-34 specifically) continue to move off of Long Island in droves because they can't afford places to live.
Today Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead will unveil a plan that gives Charles Wang and his partner about 50% of their initial vision. A major downside to her plan is that it will reduce the number of residential homes to 500 from 2,300. Chris Botta from Islanders Point Blank broke this story a couple of days ago and today it will become official.
This could be the last stand for the Islanders in Nassau County. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has already stated that “The Town of Hempstead’s new vision looks to be economically unviable to the developer and owner of the site.” To us, this sounds like Charles Wang and Scott Rechler have already decided this is not for them. The Islanders owner, who has been far from perfect in his own right, now needs to truly explore all of his options. Charles Wang has spent millions of dollars and going on 10 years of his life to see the Lighthouse Project come to fruition only to see the Town Of Hempstead stall and ultimately reject his and Nassau County's vision. The Town doesn't deserve the Islanders. Another option talked about the last few months, is the Islanders moving to Queens.
We first must wait to see how this pans out. It's possible that Charles Wang and Scott Rechler approve this vision from the Town of Hempstead. In fact, it might be exactly what the Town doesn't want. Many believe they have stalled for years in order to get Wang and Rechler out, and have someone else build and develop there. It's time the fans finally just get an answer.

For more coverage and truly informed statistics and breakdowns. Visit Let there be Lighthouse. Nick knows more about this than I think Wang and Rechler do.