Friday, 11:15 pm: Multiple sources have informed Point Blank that Kate Murray’s counter-vision to the Lighthouse Project will be unveiled in the coming week, possibly as early as a Monday media roll-out and press conference. In what will come as no surprise to veteran followers of this saga, Murray’s consultants at F. P. Clark are said to have reduced the scale of the project by more than 50%.
When that happens, Islanders owner Charles Wang will not have to publicly reject the Lighthouse push-back of the Town of Hempstead supervisor and her Westchester-based consultants. It will go without saying.
However, in what may come as a surprise, a Nassau County source tells Point Blank that County Executive Edward Mangano is preparing to support Wang and his Lighthouse partner Scott Rechler on their efforts to develop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum property and surrounding 73 acres – and keep the Islanders in Nassau County.
“We know Wang is earnest in wanting the Islanders to stay in Nassau, and not even move them as close as Queens,” said the county source. “Ed Mangano believes in the same thing. The County Executive is going to work with the Islanders. Charles knows that already. If the Town reduces the Lighthouse Project as drastically as we believe they will, no one’s going to be happy. But it’s not going to mean the end of the Islanders in Nassau. Far from it.”
Once it is revealed, count on the estimates of Murray and F. P. Clark’s down-sizing to be spin-doctored by all sides. Murray is going to approve the massive overhaul of the Coliseum for obvious reasons; like the rest of the project, the developers are paying for it. The Town will likely approve the Athletic Complex because it will be valuable to the Islanders, Nassau and Hempstead.
The rest is tricky. For example, the Lighthouse Project – developed by Wang at a personal cost of a reported $20 million, approved by Nassau County four years ago – calls for 2,300 residential units. Rumors have circulated that Murray has been considering cutting the figure by as much 75%. Wang and Rechler’s approved proposal included 500,000 square feet of retail space. Count on Hempstead’s counter to be for less than half. Wang has consistently said that his deep investment in the Coliseum transformation does not make sense without potentially profitable components such as residential and retail.
Not including parking, the total size of the Lighthouse Project is more than six million square feet. Rumors suggest F. P. Clark and the Town – paid $150,000 by Murray for the counter-proposal – could market their down-sizing as five million square feet but including two million square feet of parking.
If so, Wang may stay quiet, as he has since Oct. 3, but the status of his Designated Developer Agreement with Nassau would be unclear and he would have no choice but to consider alternatives for a home for his Islanders. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is open to the Islanders moving to Queens. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy would no doubt take Wang’s call.
According to the county source, Nassau does not want to see a courtship of the Islanders by other municipalities. The county is prepared to stand up for Wang and the Islanders. Mangano has a financial crisis to solve under his leadership. He doesn’t want the Islanders going anywhere and he knows Wang can help him more than any other developer. Of course, Mangano needs the Town of Hempstead to work with him on the Coliseum property.
After a quiet nine months, the battle for the Coliseum property and to keep the Islanders in Nassau is about to begin again. This time, the Islanders appear to have Ed Mangano on their side.