Sands antes up
Las Vegas Sands submitted a petition to the Town of Hempstead Thursday, officially seeking the approval of its conceptual master plan and a zoning change that would create the “Mitchel Field Integrated Resort District” on the land surrounding Nassau Coliseum.
The petition is Sands’ first step toward getting the town approval needed to build a casino resort at the Nassau Hub. It comes as the state Gaming Facility Location Board continues to work through the first stage of the casino siting process.
Sands needs changes to town zoning because the existing zone only contemplates a hotel, the Coliseum and limited amounts of housing, retail or office space, without allowing for the possibility of a full resort — or a casino. Ultimately, no casino will get a state license without zoning and community approvals.
The filing, obtained by The Point, sheds new light on Sands’ plans and provides some details on what a Sands casino resort at the Hub could look like. Sands’ interest goes beyond the Coliseum and the parking lots around it. The petition notes that Sands has entered into an agreement with Royal Blue Hospitality, LLC, which leases the nearby Long Island Marriott to “acquire Royal Blue’s leasehold interest in the Marriott property.” Royal Blue, the petition said, provided “consent and authorization” for Sands to file the petition to Hempstead.
As a result, the just filed petition covers both the Marriott and the Coliseum properties.
Sands’ current master plan, which was prepared by H2M Architects and Engineers, includes two hotels, with a total of 1,670 rooms. The hotels, which could include separate branding or price points, would include a fitness center, spa and indoor and outdoor pools. The casino would cover 396,726 net square feet. The development also would include 213,000 square feet of meeting space, 147,929 square feet for restaurants and bars and a 4,500 seat live performance venue. That would not be the current Coliseum, as Sands has discussed constructing a smaller theater and concert venue.
The current plan did not mention the Coliseum itself. It is unclear whether Sands’ ultimate plans will retain the current arena as part of its development.
The plan also includes 31,200 square feet of retail space and 60,000 square feet of what’s called “public attraction space,” which could include amenities such as art, water features and other functions open to the public
In total, Sands would build 3,751,672 square feet of development above ground, 765,261 square feet of basement space underground. There would be another 3,869,500 square feet of parking, including three multilevel garages that combined with street and surface lots would create 12,450 parking spaces.
By comparison, the Lighthouse Project, proposed more than 15 years ago for the site, was larger — and would have included more than 8 million square feet of new and existing development, including a new Nassau Coliseum.
The petition promises a development that will “facilitate walking” and “encourage the use of public transportation,” and will “promote and protect the public health, safety, general welfare and amenities” of the town. The development would, the petition added, “preserve and protect the special character of the greater Mitchel Field area and those of surrounding neighborhoods.”
“The Project will enhance the status of the Premises as a regional destination site and will generate significant increases in both employment opportunities and tax revenues, all while adding to the prestige of the Town of Hempstead,” the petition said.
Hempstead Town spokesman Greg Blower told The Point Sands’ application would “be subject to a thorough review” that will include a study of noise, traffic, air pollution, parking, sewage infrastructure and water use.
“The Town Board will consider all the aforementioned issues while focusing on the health and safety of residents, along with the preservation of our suburban quality of life,” Blower said in a statement. “The review will be conducted with full transparency including public hearings.”
That review can begin now. Sands seems to be the first downstate casino applicant to submit any plans or zoning application to its local municipality, seeming to give it a bit of a lead in the race to getting all the necessary approvals. But how quickly Hempstead will conduct its assessment and make its decisions remains to be seen.
— Randi F. Marshall firstname.lastname@example.org
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