Plans by the Las Vegas Sands to redevelop more than 70 acres at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale took another leap forward as the Nassau County Legislature voted 17-1 on Monday to approve the land lease agreement the county unveiled last month.
Only Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton voted no. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams recused himself from voting.
"The overwhelming bipartisan approval of lease terms with the Sands by the County Legislature affirms that Nassau County has made the right decision," County Executive Bruce Blakeman said, in a statement. "This is the first hurdle overcome to provide a world-class entertainment center with a luxury spa and hotel, creating thousands of jobs and economic prosperity for Nassau County."
It is an agreement that gives the Sands control over the land, where it intends to build a resort that would include hotels, a casino, community centers, convention space, a performance venue and restaurants for $4 billion.
Approval is a boon for the county as the Sands will begin paying an annual rent of $5 million until it gets its gaming license. Then the rent doubles to $10 million.
Within 60 days, the Sands will give the county an additional $54 million. After the casino opens, the county will be guaranteed $25 million in additional revenue each year, Blakeman said at the April news conference announcing the lease agreement.
And that’s only for the first three years.
A portion of community members attended the May 22 Legislature meeting showing where they stand on the issue holding signs that read “Say no to the Casino” and “Yes to Sands.”
New York state still needs to approve a gaming license to Las Vegas Sands. That decision is not expected to be made soon.
"The approval granted today by the Nassau County legislature is an important step in our company's efforts to secure a New York gaming license and ultimately develop a world-class hospitality, entertainment and gaming destination," Robert Goldstein, Sands chair and chief executive officer said in a statement.
"We have held over 300 community meetings and are proud of the widespread coalition we have built with our new neighbors across Long Island."
Still, not everyone was happy.
"We are deeply disappointed that our elected officials disregarded their constituents' concern, and approved the lease transfer tonight," the Say No to the Casino Civic Association released in a statement Monday. "We are alarmed by the lack of transparency in the process, and disgusted that the taxpayers will be burdened with the long-term negative consequences of this decision.
"Tonight was a demonstration of power of money in government."
Additional reporting by Reine Bethany and Brandon Cruz.