Jun 21, 2011

Arena: Wang Will Have Control of Land

According to Randi Marshall at Newsday, Charles Wang will have control of the 77-acre land that surrounds and includes the Nassau Coliseum. As per the referendum, the new arena and ballpark will be built first with a standard parking lot. From there, future mixed-use is still a possibility, subject to a new RFP process. In return for control, Wang will share revenue with the County, though it's unknown exactly how much at this time. 

CH: There's a bunch of different parts to this. First, I've read people are nervous that no development will ever come of this. I can't deny that possibility, but subjecting the land to a new RFP process appeases the Association for Better Long Island and Kate Murray and her Town of Hempstead cronies. It means the Coliseum and ballpark will be built first, and development can spur up afterwards, which would be fine. The Lighthouse (Lite) was never going to be built by 2015. We were told the referendum would include funding to build an arena and ballpark, and nothing else. That's exactly what we're getting. From there, it's up to Charles Wang, who we know wants to develop the area.

The surface parking makes sense because it will give Nassau County a bigger profit margin in the short-term. In the article, it says it will cost $25,000 per space with a parking garage - adding up to $175 million. In a time like this, that's not feasible or smart. In the long-term, it's obvious a garage must be built there. But only have more development gets built, otherwise you're wasting a ton of money. With the rumor the team is going to charge $20 for parking at hockey games down the road (they already have been for other events), the profit margin will be way higher.

There is no doubt that Mangano and Wang have not done the best job with this plan. We still have no idea what the numbers are going to say, and that will be the dealbreaker or the thing that puts this through. That needs to come out now, especially as we near the end of June. All we know is that Wang will control the land and there will be no original development with the Coliseum and ballpark. And that's okay, but that can't be the long-term plan. It's clear they want to get the arena done first for two reasons: 1) It's the most urgent. The Islanders lease is up in 4 years, and the team needs a building. So construction needs to start now. 2) It's also the most biggest and most important part of the plan. You always build the biggest thing first. And development will come from a new arena, but it won't come from a broken down Coliseum or an empty piece of land. They are right in how the plan needs to be done, but the devil will be in the details.

AT: To be honest, all that really matters to me right now is the arena. No, they haven't done a very good job with everything else and we don't even know what the new Coliseum will look like, but right now the new Coliseum is my (and everyone else's) main concern. Everything else can be worked out at a later date. A parking garage will absolutely be necessary especially as the Islanders rise up through the ranks, but right now we need to stay focused on what's most important. If the new arena isn't passed on August 1st, the Islanders are gone, so everything else kind of takes a back seat to the arena at this point. I'd love for Wang to develop the arena - I thought the concept designs for the Lighthouse at LI were beautiful and ambitious. It will happen in time. Let's get the arena done right now and focus on everything else after.

As a side note: Randi Marshall tweeted this morning there will be a vote on a less dense zone for the Coliseum. She called the process "straightforward" when I asked her if there was anything else. So this should pass fairly easily, I'm assuming. We'll update that later.

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