The Islanders’ $1.3 billion arena and entertainment plan received its final municipal approval on Tuesday, clearing the way for the developers to potentially begin construction at Belmont in a matter of weeks.
The Franchise Oversight Board, a state agency that oversees the New York Racing Association and all activity at Belmont, issued a series of approvals on the project at a meeting in Albany on Tuesday afternoon.
While the approvals were largely expected to pass without issue, it is important because it represents the final state board that needed to officially sign off on the project before the developers can move forward toward a groundbreaking ceremony.
Construction of the Islanders’ arena is anticipated to be complete in the fall of 2021, in time for the team’s 2021-22 National Hockey League season. The Islanders are splitting games between NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center in Brooklyn until then.
Empire State Development, the state agency for economic growth that is orchestrating the project, voted in favor of the project last week. Before that, the Public Authorities Control Board last month issued its approval of ESD’s acquisition of the land from the Franchise Oversight Board, which technically owns the land at Belmont.
Next, the developer New York Arena Partners must sign a lease with ESD and receive all the necessary work permits from the state before officially beginning construction on the site. An ESD spokesman said last week that the developers already have received the necessary approval to begin preparation work at Belmont, such as setting up fencing around the perimeter of the site, temporary trailers on the lots and locating utility lines.
An official groundbreaking ceremony at Belmont is expected to take place next month.
New York Arena Partners, which plans a 19,000-seat arena, 350,000 square feet of upscale shops and restaurants, a 250-room hotel and parking, is a partnership between the owners of the Islanders, Mets and the arena management company Oak View Group.
The construction aspect of the process is being handled by Sterling Project Development, which is run by the Mets’ Wilpon family and was the group that built Citi Field a decade ago.
Meanwhile, opponents of the Islanders’ Belmont project have until early December to file legal action in an attempt to halt construction on the project.