Belmont Park redevelopment project gets green light as judge tosses two lawsuits

Courtesy of New York Arena Partners

The $1.3 Belmont Park redevelopment plan that will build a new 19,000-seat hockey arena for the New York Islanders is moving forward after a state Supreme Court Justice dismissed lawsuits by several civic groups and the Village of Floral Park.

The state project includes a 250-room hotel and a 435,000-square-foot retail space which was under construction adjacent to the racetrack’s grandstand. The project broke ground last August but work was suspended after Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended nonessential construction work as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is not clear when construction will resume.

The lawsuits opposed the size and scope of the project that would inundate the area with traffic and create noise and light pollution in residential areas. In court papers filed May 12, Justice Roy S. Mahon ruled the village had “not shown that it has suffered an injury, in fact, distinct from that of the general public.”

The ruling eliminates all legal challenges against Empire State Development Development Corporation which is overseeing the project.

“Earlier this week, both lawsuits against the Belmont Park Redevelopment Project were wholly dismissed, representing a decisive victory for smart economic development and validating ESD’s vigorous environmental review and robust public engagement process,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President Eric Gertler said. “We look forward to continuing this project, which will deliver thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity to the downstate region, which are needed now more than ever.”

As the metropolitan recovers from the economic devastation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the construction is expected to create 10,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity.

After its completion, the project is expected to sustain 3,200 new full-time jobs, produce $858 million in annual economic activity and generate tens of millions of dollars in new annual tax revenue, according to the governor’s office.

Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said in a statement that while the court recognized the Village of Floral Park’s “legitimate concerns” with the scope of the Belmont Project and the Belmont Project’s impact on Village residents, the court determined that it may not “substitute its judgment” for the judgment of the Empire State Development Corp.

“Of course we are disappointed with the judge’s conclusion and believe ESD’s failure to require meaningful mitigation of the very obvious and significant negative impacts that the Belmont Project poses to the surrounding communities warrants that this project needs to be re-evaluated and scaled back,” Longobardi said. “While we still believe that the development of a shopping mall at this time is ill-conceived, we will continue to monitor the development of this project as it moves forward and work tirelessly to ensure any effects on our quality of life are minimized to the greatest extent possible.”