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Long IslandPolitics

Suozzi pitches Lighthouse to Planning Commission

If Nassau County ever holds a St. Patrick's Day parade, it should be at the site of the proposed Lighthouse project in Uniondale, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said last night.

"We need to create a place in the center of Nassau County, a place where people are drawn to," Suozzi said at a Mineola meeting on the project held by the county's Planning Commission.

Developer Scott Rechler and Islanders owner and co-developer Charles Wang want to erect twin, 31-story towers and renovate the Coliseum as the anchors for a 5.5 million-square-foot development that would create a mini-city of 150 acres in the heart of the county.

A canal-like waterway down the middle - frozen in winter for ice skating - would be lined by shops, restaurants and residential lofts. It would also have the Island's first five-star hotel and a Celebration Plaza larger than New York City's Bryant Park.

As it has at previous public meetings on the project, the developers circulated brochures with the marketing pitch: "Meet me @ the Lighthouse" - trying to sell it as not just a place to live and work, but a place to go.

The county's labor unions, eager for the construction jobs it would create, have thrown their weight behind the project, but some residents in the Uniondale-Hempstead area have raised questions about traffic and the huge scale of the project.

"Let's use the next several months . . . to address our concerns about this project," Suozzi told the audience.

The development is the keystone of his "new suburbia" land-use plan for central Nassau.

The original plans were to break ground by next month, but the Town of Hempstead was not expected to act on the required zoning changes until the fall, perhaps October.

The county is currently negotiating with Wang and Rechler on the terms of the lease, which will have to come to the Planning Commission for review, and to the Nassau County Legislature for final approval.

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