Town officials in Hempstead, Long Island, have come up with a counter-proposal to the massive Lighthouse at Long Island plan for the Nassau Coliseum site. The town's proposal calls for shorter buildings and fewer homes than New York Islanders owner Charles Wang wanted to build on the arena's 77-acre parking lot.
Town Supervisor Kate Murray and five of the six other town council members drafted the proposal. The plan would limit buildings to just nine stories, while Wang had wanted to erect two 36-story towers and use them as the centerpiece of his mixed-use complex. The towers would have been the tallest buildings on suburban Long Island. The officials' proposal also would limit the number of housing units to just 500--less than a fifth of the 2,300 apartments and townhouses that Wang wanted to build.
Wang's Lighthouse Development Group almost immediately issued a statement that said Supervisor Murray's proposal appeared to be "economically unviable," although it acknowledged the company hadn't been able to review the details. The opposition puts each side in a negotiating stance as the two proposals go through the public approval process.
Wang would keep the Coliseum where it is, but wanted to take the profits from the real estate development to renovate the 38-year-old arena. He and his business partner, real estate developer Scott Rechler, have gained the support of Long Island business leaders, construction union members, and then-Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. Suozzi saw the project's density and mixture of retail, offices and housing as a way to keep young people in Nassau.
But as the Lighthouse project wended its way through the public approval process last summer, many Hempstead residents complained that it would generate too much traffic. Town officials froze consideration of the project while they worked on the plan which was unveiled on Monday. The town board says it will hold a public hearing on the new proposal soon.
For a closer look at the Lighthouse’s proposal and the controversy it has stirred up, check out WNYC's coverage from September 2009.