Hempstead town officials approved Tuesday long-awaited plans to renovate the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale—one month after the aging arena’s anchor tenant, the New York Islanders, began moving to Brooklyn.
The conceptual master plan for the property had been submitted to the town last month by Nassau Events Center, a subsidiary of Forest City Ratner Companies, which previously lured Long Island’s lone professional sports team to the developer’s new Barclays Center in Prospect Heights.
“We look forward to beginning construction in the near future so that we can bring all Long Island residents the reimagined venue they truly deserve,” said Bruce Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner, which signed a 34-year lease with the county.
Renovations are scheduled to begin in August after Billy Joel plays the venue’s last concert while the facility is under management of SMG. Renovating the 416,000-square-foot arena and developing 188,000-square-feet of surrounding property is the first phase of a planned $260-million redevelopment of the 91-area site.
Aside from new restaurants, hotels, parking garages, a movie theater and other unspecified entertainment on the land surrounding the coliseum, two Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center facilities have been proposed for the site.
The plan follows years of failed attempts to redevelop the property by outgoing Islanders owner Charles Wang, who had proposed a multi-billion-dollar mixed-use development at the site before Hempstead officials told him to scale it back, essentially killing what was known as The Lighthouse Project. Nassau County voters later rejected a proposal to borrow $400 million to renovate the coliseum.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that Ratner’s plan “provides for balanced and sustainable development.”
The board was able to expedite the approval process since Ratner made his site plans fit the requirements of the Mitchel Field Mixed Use District, which the town had created while considering the Lighthouse Project in 2011.