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State: Public meetings set for planned Islanders arena at Belmont Park

Two meetings on March 22 at Elmont Public Library give community chance to weigh in on state-of-the-art sports and entertainment destination project.

The 43 acres of state-owned land at Belmont

The 43 acres of state-owned land at Belmont Park will be developed into an arena for the Islanders. Photo Credit: Office of the Governor / Kevin P. Coughlin

The community will get an opportunity to provide input into the planned Islanders arena at Belmont Park at two public meetings on the same day next month in Elmont, state officials said Tuesday.

The meetings are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on March 22 at Elmont Memorial Library, representing the start of the most significant stage in Empire State Development’s lengthy environmental review before breaking ground.

The meetings were announced Tuesday in a 32-page notice posted on Empire State Development’s website and in an advertisement by the agency in Newsday’s print editions.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced in December that a development team led by the Islanders will invest $1 billion in private funds to transform Belmont into a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment destination.

The Islanders’ group, called New York Arena Partners, includes Sterling Project Development, a real estate firm run by the Mets’ Wilpon family, and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed financially by Madison Square Garden.

Cuomo said the project calls for an 18,000-seat arena, 435,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants and a movie theater, a hotel and nearly 6 acres of outdoor recreation space, including 10,000 square feet of community space.

Empire State Development, the state’s primary business development agency, has said it expects the environmental review analysis to take 12 to 16 months.

The 32-page public notice says it expects construction of the project to begin in 2019 and last 28 months “with full build-out of all project components in 2021.”

A Newsday analysis of the state approval and construction process as well as interviews with people involved in the project indicate that at least 38 months would be needed before the arena could be ready.

The public notice also provides new details about the project.

A proposed 250-room hotel would stand 265 feet, or about 24 stories, providing views of the racetrack and the 102-foot-high grandstand.

Also, two project layouts are under consideration, the notice says.

The major difference between the options, according to the public notice, is the location of “350,000 gross square footage of luxury outlet stores,” and how that development would affect the layout of the parking lots.

The first option places the retail village next to the arena and hotel on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike and includes about 1,340 parking spaces by the arena.

The second option has the retail area located south of Hempstead Turnpike on what’s now the large parking lot next to the Cross Island Parkway.

This option decreases parking next to the arena to 500 spaces but increases the publicly available space from 1.2 acres to 2 acres. The total number of parking spaces in the second option is 2,200, down from 3,699 in the first option.

Additional parking for either option is located north of the track in what’s now unpaved land.

“The Applicant is currently seeking community input and is consulting with retail specialists to understand how to optimize the arrangement of uses for the Proposed Project’s visitors,” according to the public notice.

The 32-page notice also says the developers anticipate more than 150 events at the arena per year, including 41 Islanders home games, 50 major events such as a concert, 80 midsize events such as Disney on Ice, and 39 smaller events such as conferences.

The proposed 30,000-square-foot office space included in the plan will be used primarily by the Islanders’ staff, according to the notice.

The community facility, meanwhile, would focus on education and career development with an emphasis on jobs in audio and light technology, sports, music, retail, event management, tourism and hospitality, the document states. More than 6 acres of land would also be devoted to open space, the notice said, including walking trails, basketball courts and turf fields.

With Robert Brodsky

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