Coney Island Merry-Go-Round
June 18th, 2007
Joseph Sitt, the developer who bought the land in and around Coney Island’s famed Astroland, has a new plan for this legendary patch of real estate. And to comply with the city’s wishes, it does not include luxury condos, the Times reports today. All in all, Sitt says it’s a plan for everyone: “We’re asking for motherhood, motherhood. Apple pie, Chevrolet and Coney Island.”
But the proposal seems unlikely to mollify those concerned about Coney Island’s character (and characters). As Curbed describes it, “Thor has scrapped the apartment buildings in favor of three high-rise hotels, including time shares, to go along with the new water park, amusements, restaurants, shops, movie theaters and everything else that will be coming to Coney Island sometime this century.”
Robert Lieber, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation (parent of the Coney Island Development Corporation), has described the new plan as a “wolf dressed up as a sheep.” Lieber’s comments can’t be good news for Sitt, chief of Thor Equities, since he needs the city’s rezoning and financial help to make his plan a reality.
A Coney Island blog called Kinetic Carnival also has concerns. Some of the proposed buildings, it says, “look like Donald Trump style boxes with windows.” The blog questions whether there will be enough business to support the three hotels called for in Sitt’s plan and writes, “Why time-shares? Isn’t that similar to condos. They’re still residential.”
But Brownstoner sees the once glittery, now somewhat seedy seaside retreat as posing a challenge to developers – Thor Equities or anyone else. “The key to any plan for the area is finding a way to make Coney Island a year-round destination,” it writes. “Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how to accomplish that while maintaining the old-school vibe for which so many New Yorkers feel nostalgia.”By Gail Robinson on June 18, 2007, 10:56 am
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