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Islanders Arena Plan Moves Forward

A new $105-million Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station is now part of the development, as the Empire State Development Board moved forward with a $1.26-billion New York Islanders Belmont arena plan.

Created by New York Arena Partners, which includes Islanders ownership, Sterling Project Development (controlled by New York Mets owners) and arena developer Oak View Group, the proposal includes a 19,000-capacity arena, 350,000 square feet of retail space, a 250-room hotel and bars/restaurants at the Belmont Park site. Proponents say the project will attract sorely needed investment and jobs in the area; opponents say the development will increase traffic and congestion. According to an analysis of the Belmont Redevelopment Project prepared by BJH Advisors, the project will create approximately 10,000 construction jobs and 3,200 permanent jobs, generating nearly $50 million in new public revenue annually, creating approximately $725 million in annual economic activity and generating annual employee earnings of roughly $133 million, according to a report released by the ESD and the governor’s office. 

Part of a solution to traffic and congestion was unveiled yesterday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: a $105-million LIRR station, the first full-time LIRR station in nearly 50 years. The new Elmont Station will be located between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the LIRR’s Main Line, just east of the Cross Island Parkway. Electric shuttle buses—already planned to run from parking lots within Belmont Park to the arena site—will also serve LIRR riders traveling to the grandstand and planned arena, hotel and retail village.

New York Arena Partners will eventually pay $97 million of the $105-million station price tag.

“The Belmont project will help drive the region’s economy forward while building the Islanders a state-of-the-art facility at home on Long Island, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output along the way,” Cuomo said in a press statement. “Now with the addition of the first full-time LIRR train station in almost 50 years, we will provide millions of visitors and fans a fast and affordable way to get there and continue New York’s nation-leading investments in 21st century transportation infrastructure.”

In conjunction with the announcement, the Empire State Development Board moved forward with plans to approve the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. Public input during this process led to changes in the project’s scope, according to the development board: the maximum height of the hotel was reduced by 100 feet, the project’s retail component was downsized from 435,000 square feet to 350,000 square feet, a new plan for renovating local Elmont parks, and the new LIRR station. There will be a 15-day commenting period before the site plan is voted on by the Empire State Development Board; if approved, you can expect a groundbreaking this summer.

Rendering courtesy Long Island Rail Road.

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