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MINEOLA, NY-Nassau County executive Thomas Souzzi and the Lighthouse Development Group announced a proposed lease agreement for the Lighthouse at Long Island mixed-use project here on Thursday. A release from Souzzi’s office says the proposal is for a “sports-transaction” and ground lease for the 77 acres surrounding the Nassau Coliseum. If approved, the lease would keep the Islanders in Nassau County until 2030.

“Both parties in this lease–the county and the Lighthouse Development Group–are dedicated to bringing the benefits of the Lighthouse project to Long Island immediately,” says Michael Picker, president of the Lighthouse Development Corp., in the release. Lighthouse Development Group, LLC is the joint venture head by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Scott Rechler, CEO and chairman at RXR Realty.

Lighthouse says its mega-project includes a multi-million dollar renovation of the 1970s era coliseum, over 2,000 units of housing and retail and entertainment venues. Also part of the development are class A office space, what the firm calls an incubator for the sports technology industry, a multi-purpose athletic complex, conference and exhibition facilities, a minor league ball park and a five-star hotel, said to be Long Island’s first. The company says the project will be completed in eight to 10 years.

“It’s one more step in the right direction, and obviously, a big milestone,” Rechler tells GlobeSt.com. He adds that “it’s been a lot of work to get a fully negotiated lease with the county. However, we still need to get the local municipality [Hempstead] to provide the zoning approval, so all of this is contingent on that.”

Rechler says “we’ve had all our hearings and we’re awaiting feeback from them.” As to when that will be, “it’s not clear,” he says.

A spokesman for the Town of Hempstead tells GlobeSt.com that officials there are anxious to see the new proposed lease. “We’ve asked for a number of safeguards for the residents in the town to be put in place.” He says for the project to move forward, the town would have to reach a decision on the zoning issue building permits and issue sight plan approvals.But the spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the town has other concerns with the development proposal, including whether the developer will put in writing claims that the project will generate $60 million in property taxes. “People are talking about tax abatements again, although the developer has stated the project would create $60 million in property taxes. We just want to hold him to his word.”

Reports show that Nassau County waited around five years to select a developer for the land around the Nassau Coliseum. Town officials say they’ve only had the project in their domain for 20 months.

A source familiar with the project tell GlobeSt.com that the County Legislature had actually put the lease proposal on its agenda to be voted on Thursday, the day the proposal was announced. But the Hempstead Planning Commission did not supply all the required paper work, the source says. Ultimately, says the source, the project’s fate rests in the hands of the Town of Hempstead.

The latest town zoning hearing, on Sept. 22, focused on size, scope and character of the development, as well the ‘impact on local infrastructure, area schools, traffic, surrounding businesses and residences. The Hempstead spokesman charges that at that point, the developer couldn’t indicate the amount of traffic that would be generated by the project, or where the wells would be located for water or more importantly, exactly “the number of buildings that would be cited at the location.”

A source familiar with the Lighthouse project tells GlobeSt.com that the developer is in fact paying for the well’s construction and has been in negotiations for property on which to build them. They say the majority of the water well negotiations have been with Nassau Community College. Further, the source says that the number of buildings is set at 33. And, the source says the a 35-year veteran traffic engineer told board members at hearing, the developer’s traffic studies were done appropriately.

Rechler says “the community has rallied behind the project as something that will serve as an engine for the future growth of Long Island, in terms of not only creating short term positions,” but, also he says “a magnet for companies and people who want to live in Long Island in a more modern type setting with the type amenities that are more appealing to the current work force.”

Of those urging the town to speed along it’s approval process, the Hempstad spokesman volleys back by pointing to other long-stalled Long Island projects. “In the scheme of things, this has gone at a very rapid pace.”

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