Lies 101: Charles Wang Bought the Isles For Real Estate

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/26/2012 05:32:00 AM | | | | | | |
It's always amusing how uninformed some folks are about the New York Islanders or it's history, so some people decide to rewrite their own. 

The idea that Charles Wang bought the New York Islanders with Sanjay Kumar for real estate twelve years ago on April 26th 2000 is a flat out lie, which contradicts the entire history of what transpired before 9/27/2004.

They bought this team from Howard Milstein, a billionaire who develops real-estate. Things got so bad, he tried to move within months, then put the team into financial mothballs until it was sold to Wang & Kumar.

Bottom Line:
This became a real-estate deal for Charles Wang, who eventually combined with a top real estate developer to this day in Reckson, Scott Rechler, but he gave many long interviews after 2006 and made clear a development became the plan when the County could do nothing to replace or renovate it's own building.

Sounds familiar doesn't it?

If I failed to include something in a mountain of information, by all means drop me an e-mail, this post will be updated because I want my readers to have an honest and accurate history based on what was reported.

I made sure the quote from Charles Wang about making money was included below.
 
Charles Wang owns real estate in Plainville, he's never developed a single thing in his life on Long Island with Renaissance Properties, not even  with Scott Rechler at that site in 2007 here.

I have never read one word about real-estate Sanjay Kumar owned or developed on Long Island before he sold his share of the team to Charles Wang in 2004.

From the Archives of Islanders-Sound Tigers.  For those interested in the Lighthouse website news archives from 2004-2009 please read.
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From 4/27/2000 link below.
Milstein had planned to develop the Nassau Hub as a means to build a new arena and to underwrite the team' payroll. Those plans fell apart when the owners failed to get all parties to agree to their plans. Under the lease agreement, written in 1979, neither SMG nor Nassau could build on the 70 acres without the others permission.
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History:
4/26/2000 4:15pm: Wang-Kumar purchase completed: Tom Gulotta's Nassau tried to break the news before it was official already angering Wang here.  

Wang has said previously that Nassau County needs a convention center where major events can be held. County officials have long speculated that if Wang bought the team, he would build a center. County officials said they have received interest from other companies to build a hotel, and county executive Thomas Gulotta has said that whoever purchases the team is expected to build a new arena.

4/27/2000: Press Conference Highlights/Articles here.
The reason for the friendly atmosphere surrounding SMG and the new owners is due in part to former senator Alfonse D'Amato, who received praise from the new owners for persuading them to buy the team. As for the surrounding property, Kumar said, "We are not real-estate developers."

While Wang and Kumar said they have not seen the plans D'Amato submitted to Gulotta in February to develop the Hub, they said SMG's role will be decided soon.

D'Amato proposed a multimillion-dollar plan that included a hotel/exhibition/convention center as the centerpiece, with a host of sports and entertainment retail facilities. The proposal did not
include the possible construction of a new arena.

2/15/2001: Wang discusses adding the Nets, plus comments on a public bond here.
Wang said he hasn't had concrete discussions with anyone regarding a new arena or other plans and believes that, considering the financial condition of Nassau County, now isn't the best time to do it.

"I think Nassau has some issues it has to deal with," he said. "This may not be the right time right now to tell the voters, 'Hey, listen, let's do a public bond or something.' So the timing is sensitive to that."
 
Wang said he hasn't asked Nassau or anyone in the private sector for help in funding a new arena and convention center. There is, he said, a lot of variables to consider. "When you put up a big facility like that, obviously people are not going to do it altruistically," he said. "They want to get a payoff at what's best for the city, state and county." And there is also the task of convincing private investors to join in the project. Wang said there are no guarantees there, either.

4/15/2002: Proclamation Day For Isles Charles Wang and Tom Suozzi's First Comments here.
 But with Nassau's massive fiscal problems, Suozzi admitted that the county is in no financial shape to take on such an expensive project that some say could cost as much as $200 million.

 "If Nassau County is going to be the best it can be, then we should have a world-class sporting facility," Suozzi said. "But it must be done economically and done within a county master plan that includes all parties."

11/19/2003: More Discussion of Wang buying Nets plus local financing for a bond here 
In meetings during the past year, Suozzi officials essentially have threatened to cancel the lease through government action unless SMG agrees to a new management contract giving the county sole rights to develop the property around the Coliseum. Talks are currently stalled.

"We've had ongoing meetings with Islanders and the county as part of a task force for the hub area, and there aren't any easy solutions for anybody," SMG president Wes Westly said. "Our position is, we don't want to stand in the way, but we want a fair business solution."

9/27/2004: Charles Wang introduces the Lighthouse Project here. 
Financial details of the proposed plan by Wang, were sketchy. Picker said the major overhaul of the coliseum and construction of the athletic complex will be done with help from state, county and Wang. He would not release further details. Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi would not comment on the proposed plan.

10/11/2004: More From Wang here.
The first phase of the project, "transforming" the Coliseum, will involve state and local government funding, details of which will be discussed tomorrow. 

Opening the first phase of the project to outside  bidding, as one developer group has demanded, ultimately will be a county decision, Wang said. 

But he added:

"There aren't too many owners of the New York Islanders that can do this." "I'm at a point where I can do things like this," he said. "I can look at a much longer horizon. I believe someday people will say, 'He did something for Long Island. That's something Wang built.'"

He's also in it for profit.

"I can also make a lot of money from it," said Wang.

Why does he want it?

"It's my home. It's where I live. I have a view of what I think Long
Island needs. I have the wherewithal to do something about it, to be a catalyst. Ultimately it's going to be the people of Long Island who will decide."

Said Wang, "I'm patient. It doesn't mean I'll have patience forever."


10/13/2004: Memorandum Of Understanding Completed
10/14/2004: Financial Details Of Agreement

Already, some politicians question whether the county should have engaged in a competitive bidding process, instead of quickly embracing Wang's plan. But Suozzi said Wang is uniquely suited to develop the site. And without his economic assistance - an investment of $168 million -public money would have to be used.
 
"The County of Nassau doesn't have the money to renovate the Coliseum," he said. "We need this type of public-private partnership."

Beyond Wang's contribution, the state would be asked to release a $30 million grant approved in 1997 and issue a new $47 million grant, for a total tab of $245 million.

Wang said his proposal is more than a financial investment. 

"I'm not just a developer, I'm a neighbor," he said. "I love this place. I'm putting my name and my money on the line to make Long Island better."

 10/18/2004: Newday Lead Endorsement Of Project. 
Twice during his term as county executive, Gulotta put out requests for proposals for buying the Coliseum and surrounding acres, with the hope the RFP could finally serve as a catalyst for the kind of livable space that planners started pushing almost 40 years ago. The response? Absolute zero.
 3/9/2005: Proposed Coliseum Lease Sparks Outrage
 3/16/2005: D'Amato Weighs In Against High Rise

Suozzi's office issued a statement: "The county's interest is to get a new Coliseum built. As for the redevelopment and proposed tower, it's up to the Town of Hempstead to give or not give these
approvals."


3/19/2005: Financial monitor asked to probe Coliseum proposal
4/22/2005: Nassau Official Calls for Bids on Land Promised for Tower
Mr. Suozzi defended the Wang deal, saying, "This is not a straight real estate deal but a sports arena and team retention deal." Mr. Wang owns the Islanders hockey team and had promised to renovate the Coliseum and pay the county $1.5 million annually for 99 years in return for the development rights.

"This does not cost county taxpayers one cent and will be recognized as one of the country's best sports deals," Mr. Suozzi said, but added: "If somebody has a better idea, please feel free to contact
us. We'll consider any ideas anybody has."


7/15/2005: Wang frustrated with Coliseum progress
When asked if he was losing patience and might scrap his proposal, Wang said, "I'm not at that point, but I'm close."


Wang singled out D'Amato's comments from March that the "Lighthouse" project would turn Nassau into the "Sixth Borough" of New York City. "It saddens me ... to see this being politicized," Wang said. "This is not a Suozzi project. It is not a Republican or Democrat project. This is a Wang project. 

But Suozzi said he negotiated the best deal with Wang. "I want to make this clear, if someone has a better idea, I'm requesting their proposals," he said.

As for D'Amato, who once called Wang "a great entrepreneur and a friend," he characterized Wang's proposal yesterday as "a nonsense plan at this point...


"There's little if any chance, in my opinion, that a plan that as the centerpiece calls for a 60-story tower will be approved," D'Amato said.


8/12-13/2005: Suozzi issues RFP for outside bidding.
Suozzi: Offers must top Wang's
Would-be developers of Coliseum are told their plans must
be 'substantially better' than current $200M bid from Islanders owner


9/23/05: Crossing the line? Islanders, Suffolk in preliminary talks to relocate club if deal to redo Coliseum site in Nassau falls through 
The Islanders' lease in Nassau extends to 2015, leaving plenty of time for the team to secure a second location if Nassau rejects the Lighthouse plan. But the team would have to remain in the metro region to fulfill terms of a deal with Cablevision Systems Corp. to keep the Islanders in its market area. That agreement, which extends to 2031, means they could relocate as far away as lower Connecticut or Brooklyn.


9/29/2005: Wang, Reckson team to redevelop Coliseum Islanders owner, stymied by lawmakers in his plan for the Coliseum, joins with Reckson to bolster his bid
Note-Wang/Rechler Finalized their Joint Venture in Jan 2007.  Mr Rechler also took Reckson private that month and changed name of company to RexCorp Realty.

Wang's project also would require zoning approval by Republican- controlled Hempstead Town, where former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato is still a political power. D'Amato and Wang had a falling out, after D'Amato criticized the project.
 
But Rechler, who has contributed to Republicans, called D'Amato "an adviser." D'Amato didn't return calls for comment. "I haven't spoken with him, but I hope when I do he will see the light of Charles' plan," Rechler said.


12/21/2005: Charles Wang buys Marriott Hotel
12/28/2005: Mets revise Coliseum proposal
12/29/2005: Tower plans topple Wang says criticism of planned 60-story building overwhelmed rest of proposal for Coliseum property
3/16/2006: Wang, Reckson Coliseum deal becomes official

"Their plan stood up against top-notch competition, and emerged as the best of the best," Suozzi said at a news conference in Mineola. "It matches the vision I've been talking about for 'New Suburbia.' We can look forward to a new minor-league ballpark, a renovated Coliseum, new housing and office space that will create excitement at the geographic heart of Nassau County and create an engine for economic growth. And we accomplish this at no cost to the taxpayers, while significantly increasing the tax base."

 "We got a call from county officials that our proposal had been accepted and we are thrilled," said Reckson Associates chief Scott Rechler, in a call from Australia, where he is on a business trip on Wednesday. Rechler said the development of the hub area has been talked about for decades, but "This is the most momentum I've seen with public support for what the hub area can be. It's becoming a reality."
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Moving Forward From 2006:
Tom Suozzi stuck the agreement in his desk for almost two years before it got to the Town Of Hempstead, who did everything possible to delay/kill the project from that point which was entirely political.

Rezoning application was submitted Nov 2007. Plans were also due at same time here.
April 8th 2008 Town of Hempstead declares Lead Agency and Positive Declaration on application
April 18th Lighthouse project placed on Hempstead fast track

2008/09 Summary of How Things Played Out. 

After Suozzi finally woke up from his slumber and the fast track became slow, Wang & Rechler had lost twenty million dollars/did over two hundred meetings. Suozzi was voted out of office, the zoning proposed by Kate Murray would not accommodate the Lighthouse, or make it financially viable for Suozzi, Wang, Rechler or to date any developer, at least with the Nassau Coliseum in the picture.

Suozzi did his sublease with Wang/and/or Rechler in Dec 2009 after he was defeated.
Ed Mangano came in, Lighthouse was removed from  the County website 1/1/2010 but said the Lighthouse remains a top priority. (sound familiar twitter friends?)

7/23/2010: Kate Murray/TOH Announce Their Lighthouse, Mangano says it's not economically viable.

Scott Rechler is gone, selling his 2005 share of the Marriott to Wang 7/29/10 here.

6/21/11: Hempstead Town Approves New Development Zone For Lighthouse Site

Wang made no request for land development with Mangano's referendum which was a thirty year influx for the county's general fund after his Casino plan imploded quickly in 2011.

Conclusion:
To this day in 2012 Smg's lease has never been condemned, their agreement, written in 1979 where SMG nor Nassau could build on the 70 acres without the others permission has not been changed in any way despite the endless rhetoric about buying out or condemning the lease.

Al D'Amato/Smg submitted their development before Wang-Kumar even purchased the club, all that required was Nassau-Smg approval as written above regardless who owned the New York Islanders.

To this day the New York Islanders are a rent paying tenant, which would not have changed if the referendum was approved.

7/26/11 WFAN Charles Wang audio saying he never threatened to move (3:40) and made clear he has no land development rights (8:09)

The idea Charles Wang only bought the New York Islanders for real estate is a lie.

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