The Hempstead Town Board Tuesday unanimously passed a master plan to renovate the Nassau Veterans Coliseum and clear the way for building restaurants and retail on the 91-acre Uniondale property.
The master plan approval was the final hurdle for developer Bruce Ratner to renovate the 416,000-square-foot coliseum and scale down the arena to 13,000 seats after the departure of the New York Islanders hockey team.
Ratner plans to add eight buildings, including three restaurants, two retail sites, three recreation centers and a 1,500-seat movie theater on the 188,000 square feet of property east and northeast of the Coliseum. It is the first phase of what is to be a 3.4-million-square-foot development.
"This is a major step for the town board and sets the stage for things to come," Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said in an interview after the vote.
"With that piece of property, we've never got to that step before" she said of previous proposals to develop the property. "It's a milestone and a step to good reasonable sustainable development and an economically sustainable shot in the arm for Nassau County."
Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner Cos. still needs to seek approvals for site plans for individual buildings under the master plan, but those approvals will not require public hearings before the town board.
Forest City is expected to spend $260.5 million on the total project, backed with $91 million in Chinese investments, and commit to $31 million in facility improvements.
Ratner can start seeking building permits for the Coliseum immediately. Forest City officials said last week that they would like to begin work shortly after the Aug. 4 Billy Joel concert, which is planned as the last event at the Coliseum.
"We look forward to beginning construction in the near future, so that we can bring all Long Island residents the re-imagined venue they truly deserve," Ratner officials said in a statement.
Town board members also approved an environmental impact study that showed no adverse effects from the development.
The master plan was first submitted in April, then resubmitted Tuesday with conditions stipulated by board members, including submitting future projects to environmental review as requested and making sure additional phases of the project include "green building" elements such as solar power.