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Hempstead fails to approve Lighthouse project; will Wang be forced to move Islanders?

New York IslandersThe impasse over Charles Wang’s proposal for a large development surrounding Nassau Coliseum has been broken by the town of Hempstead — but Hempstead is essentially vetoing the project, and Wang’s plans to subsidize an arena makeover with development money may finally be dead.

The background: New York Islanders (NHL) owner Wang has proposed a huge development on the 77 acres near Nassau Coliseum: the $3.8 billion housing, retail and office complex would subsidize a renovated arena.

Nassau County has already signed off on the Lighthouse Project, first proposed in 2003. In recent months it has fallen to Hempstead officials to sign off on the project as well.

Today they did: sort of. They signed off on their version of a site plan, which would limit high-rise development to a single nine-story hotel, instead of the multiple 35-story office and residential towers proposed by Wang. The density of the project would be diminished as well.

In short, Hempstead managed to kill the project while appearing to support it. “It does not appear to achieve the goals of the county and the developer,” said county and Lighthouse officials in a joint statement.

Without the development, there’s little chance the arena will be renovated. And with no renovations, it’s a sure bet Wang will once again look for a new home for the Islanders. Kansas City, with an empty downtown arena seeking a headlining tenant, is an option. A proposed arena development in Las Vegas is seeking an NHL team as well. Seattle is a potential destination. And there’s always Brooklyn, where Wang has already met with the management of the New Jersey Nets over a possible move to the new Barclays Center arena.

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