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Thread: Coney Island "Renaissance"

  1. #331

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    Very good article. This dude definately seems like bad news. Hopefully CIDC will have enough power to save the area

  2. #332
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    It's interesting, because this is a situation where EVERYONE supports development and the developer is balking. Joe Sitt is bad, bad news - and a liar to boot.

  3. #333

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider View Post
    It's interesting, because this is a situation where EVERYONE supports development and the developer is balking. Joe Sitt is bad, bad news - and a liar to boot.
    The city ain't the best news either. It allows this to keep happening to this priceless area which will be kept in this sorry state for years to come now.

  4. #334

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    Early summer at Coney Island


    Sitt's handiwork

  5. #335
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    Parks Dep’t in Talks To Transfer Coney Land To Developers

    Should Be Used for Parks, Say Locals
    By Sarah Ryley
    Brooklyn Daily Eagle

    CONEY ISLAND — Taconic Investment Partners is looking to expand the footprint of its planned waterfront development, anchored by the former Child’s Restaurant, and is negotiating with the city to do so by using adjacent land controlled by the Parks Department.

    Ari Shalam, a Taconic senior vice president, says the negotiations are complicated because the transfer of land controlled by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation requires state legislation, and the replacement of an equal amount of land elsewhere in the vicinity.

    Several people in the community, when made aware of the negotiations, say a private developer shouldn’t get control of the land. They say the vacant land and waterfront parking lots should be turned into a public park or used for amusements accessible to the working class, such as a new home for Astroland Park.

    “They want to put luxury housing in, but when you come down here it’s a very democratic place — you see every variety of human being that you can imagine,” says Coney Island resident Ida Sanhoff. “When they put in this luxury housing, how are those people going to feel about going to the beach and sitting next to all these poor people?”

    Taconic, which controls a 99-year lease of the landmarked Child’s building and owns an adjacent vacant block, in addition to vacant property north of KeySpan Park, plans to build a mixed-use development on the waterfront site. Plans include ground-floor “entertainment retail ,” housing and “food-related uses” in the restaurant.

    “If the city is thinking of trading valuable parkland that’s on the waterfront, the most important questions are, what is the community getting out of that and how is the public being included in these decisions,” says Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

    “I’m very wary of parkland being taken away for non-park purposes,” says Croft. “There’s very little park space and playgrounds in the community, so any opportunity to utilize that land and build a playground should be top priority.”

    Broken Promises
    The parkland east of Taconic’s property is a parking lot for KeySpan, and represents a history of broken promises to the community.

    Until a decade ago, it was to be part of a year-round amusement fantasyland, spanning from West 15th to West 21st streets, that would have revived rides from the famed Steeplechase Park destroyed by Fred Trump in the late 1960s. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani nixed that idea during his second term, instead promising a community “SportsPlex” on the property, a contingency for the approval of his less-popular minor league stadium.

    SportsPlex died shortly after the first Cyclones game, but some say the money’s still allocated for it somewhere in the cosmos of city budget. Today, a small soccer field and the recently re-lit Parachute Jump are nestled alongside the sloping entryway to KeySpan and its expansive parking lot, a small fulfillment of both those promises.

    The Parks Department also controls a waterfront vacant lot next to Child’s — overgrown, at least shoulder-high, with weeds — and a parking lot behind the building. Combined, at 144,905 square feet, the two lots are slightly larger than the property now occupied by Astroland Park, which will be evicted by developer Thor Equities after this season.

    Carol Hill Albert, whose family has operated Astroland for 45 years, says she’d be very interested in moving her rides west of KeySpan, to land owned by the Parks Department. For more than three decades, the family has held the operating agreement to run the city-owned Cyclone, which occupies parkland next to the New York Aquarium.

    Albert has, in the past, offered to help the city pay to move Astroland’s rides anywhere in Coney Island, and recently agreed to take them off the auction block in response to pleas from elected officials.

    But despite the ostensibly fervent effort on the part of the city to keep Astroland in Coney Island, Albert says she often feels put on the back burner, in favor of the big developers like Taconic and Thor Equities, and left to fend for herself.

    “The reality is that there’s not a lot of land that the city owns within the amusement district [besides the street beds],” says Lynn Kelly, president of the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC).

    Tale of Two Coneys
    The “incredible branding opportunity” found in Coney Island, with its storied past and distinct graphic identity, has been held hostage over the decades by disparate ownership, vacant parcels and patchwork ownership, says Kelly. “Without enhancing the amusement district, we’ve lost that brand.” “Coney East” is the term Kelly uses for the area on that side of KeySpan Park, where she says the “enhanced amusements” should go. Thor Equities purchased most of that property, with controversial plans for a $2 billion mixed-use amusement development that would also include residential housing, although these plans are in the process of being modified after the city rejected the housing portion.

    Thor Equities has already cleared away the miniature golf course, go-cart tracks, flea market and batting range; Astroland Park and the boardwalk businesses are looking at their last season.

    Taconic owns property in “Coney West,” and the vacant lots north of Surf Avenue.

    All of this property is within the city’s only district zoned exclusively for amusements — while Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (which has not been sold) and Astroland are certainly the heart of that district, KeySpan Park is squarely in the center.

    CIDC spokesman Jorge Montalvo says the agency is working very hard to find a new home for Astroland, but that locating the park in Coney West wouldn’t be feasible.


    © Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007

  6. #336
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Coney Island Project Is Scaled Back,
    but Critics Are Skeptical

    NY TIMES
    By CHARLES V. BAGLI
    June 18, 2007

    The developer who wants to remake Coney Island’s amusement district has a new plan and says that you’re going to love it.

    Joseph J. Sitt, who says his company has spent $120 million buying up land underneath and around the rides, said on Friday that he had “rolled over” in response to the criticism of his earlier plans for an entertainment and residential complex.

    So the looming 40-story tower planned for the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue is gone. So are the hundreds of rental apartments and luxury condominiums in the old plan. The new proposal is less dense, he said, but has more of “the new, the edgy, and the outlandish” rides and attractions that America’s first resort was once known for.

    “This is our way of showing the New York community that we’re responsive to what they want,” said Mr. Sitt, the founder of Thor Equities, which buys and develops commercial, residential and retail properties nationwide. “Our design, in all its greatness, is a way of showing the world what Coney Island can be.”

    Who could complain?

    Well.

    Robert Lieber, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, described Mr. Sitt’s new plan as a “wolf dressed up as a sheep.” Mr. Lieber, along with neighborhood leaders and other city officials, had expressed fears that residents of new apartment buildings would not fit comfortably with the noisy, all-hours amusement district that would be preserved between West Eighth Street and the Aquarium and the minor league baseball stadium at West 16th Street.

    The new plan keeps the concept of a new glass-enclosed water park, but instead of apartments calls for three hotels, including more than 400 time-share units, along with restaurants, shops, movie theaters and high-tech arcades.

    The latest renderings depict a pulsating entertainment complex with an Elephant Colossus statue and architecture that evokes the old Luna Park and Dreamland amusement parks.

    Mr. Lieber and others say that the time-share units look an awful lot like apartments and that the complex looks more like a mall than Coney Island.
    “He came in last week and presented a plan that had essentially the same density, but dressed it up with hotels and time shares,” Mr. Lieber said. “The building heights still exceed the 271-foot Parachute Jump,” a Coney Island landmark. “And he’s looking for a huge subsidy from the city. North of $100 million.”

    The city has been working with local residents and property owners for nearly three years on a master plan for what everyone agrees is a dowdy area. The idea, they say, is to preserve the democratic, open-air quality of Coney Island’s culture and amusement district on the south side of Surf Avenue, while allowing for high-rise residential and retail development set apart from the rides, on the north side of Surf.

    The Economic Development Corporation, along with the City Planning Department and the Coney Island Development Corporation, have been devising a rezoning proposal for Coney Island that will go through a public review process later this year.

    “The community and the Coney Island Development Corporation have all indicated that residential and amusements don’t go together,” said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Community Board 13.

    But Mr. Sitt says he believes the changes being proposed are too restrictive and would undercut his ability to redevelop the area.

    Everyone agrees that the shrunken hulk of the amusement district is worth preserving, at the edge of a beach that still draws tens of thousands of people on the summer weekends. The question is how to turn it into a year-round attraction.

    “Coney Island has changed its faces many times,” Mr. Reichenthal said. “The last Luna Park was in the mid-1940s. Steeplechase came down in the ’60s. But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t remained a magnet. There’s a lot to do when people come down here. It’s still the place for people who don’t have a huge amount of money in their pocket to come and have a good time.”

    Mr. Sitt, who is equal parts real estate entrepreneur and supersalesman, has been engaged in a game of chicken with the city over the future of Coney Island. Earlier this year, his team claimed that his project “isn’t a financially feasible investment” without high-rise housing. Over the winter, he knocked down the batting cages and the go-kart park in a move that harked back to the bad old days of empty lots.

    Now he has taken the housing, at least all the units labeled apartments, out of his proposal, and he is betting that his new $1.5 billion plan will win the overwhelming support of local residents, if not all the officials at City Hall. The hotels, which range from 25 to 32 stories, have been moved to mid-block, away from the Boardwalk.

    Mr. Sitt has already spent a large sum buying up 10 acres behind the Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand from 30 different families, including the descendants of George C. Tilyou, founder of Steeplechase Park, and the owners of Astroland, an amusement park that embraces the 270-foot Astro Tower. Astroland is scheduled to close in September. The Cyclone roller coaster, which is a city landmark, will remain open.

    Hear his pitch:

    The hotels, Mr. Sitt said, would offer black residents not only jobs, but careers. Russian immigrants, who enjoy a “quality of life and activity by the water,” would flock to the hotels and nightclubs. Jewish and Italian-American residents would get “quality retail, bookstores and entertainment venues. ”

    As for everyone else, “what’s better than having fabulous restaurants, catering halls, shows and concerts?”

    “Tell me, what issue any one of these constituencies would have with our plan,” he said. “We’re asking for motherhood, motherhood. Apple pie, Chevrolet and Coney Island.”

    Pause for breath.

    “Maybe I sound like a salesman,” Mr. Sitt said, “but I’m passionate about this.”

    Jeff Persily, who has worked in the amusement district since 1960 and owns a penny arcade and other property on Bowery Street, agrees with the notion that the amusement area must be turned into a year-round attraction to survive. The city needs to change the zoning to allow for larger buildings, hotels, apartments, parking and retail, he said.

    “They have a vision of open-air amusements,” Mr. Persily said. “We can’t afford to spend millions on new rides and only be open three months of the year.”

    Would he sell out to Mr. Sitt? “At the end of the day, combining all the properties and building amusements, hotels and residential would be a wonderful thing for New York,” he said. “We’re talking about creating not hundreds of jobs but many thousands of jobs. I love Coney Island. I’d love to see it become what it once was when I was a kid.”

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  7. #337
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    NEWS ALERT! Major Announcent From Thor Equities



    http://kineticcarnival.blogspot.com/

    Kinetic Carnival has received an exciting e-mail announcement from The Marino Organization with great news from Thor Equities that may make Joseph Sitt and Thor Equities as the hero of Coney Island's rebirth.

    The announcement from Thor Equities spokesman e-mail read:

    After listening to the comments, questions and concerns of members of the Coney Island community, as well as people all over the country and throughout the world, Thor Equities has completely eliminated the residential component of its proposed plan. Thor will instead focus on amusement and entertainment uses worthy of Coney Island's spectacular legacy. Thor now has a plan that is compatible with the City's strategic plan and looks forward to working with the community and the City to return Coney Island to its former glory.


    -Tom Corsillo Spokesman, Thor Equities
    This is super exciting news for Coney Island. Now we are all anxious to see what new preliminary plans and designs Thor Equities will release.

    It's been said by many that there are ways to make profit on amusements. And that residential components in Coney Island is not a solution to Coney's seasonality issues. Coney was never about building amusement retail for the residents down the street. Coney (like a CIUSA poster pointed out) has always been about going to Coney Island. There have been many wonderful ideas talked about on the Coney Island USA bulletin board.

    Therefore, it's time to set up a new kind of forum where the community would specifically be able to express their creative ideas in order to further connect to Thor Equites, the city, and the design team(s) and help generate ideas. Even though Thor Equities will continue to hire the experts in the amusement industry - there has also been a good degree of opposition to previous drawings and plans. A positive critical mass could establish a creative collective that would greatly add to the survival of the Coney Island spirit and character.

    We thank Joe Sitt and Thor Equities to face the courage and dare to dream to make a reality, the tough business that is amusements.

    Follow discussion on: CIUSA board

  8. #338
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Well, that's good news.

    Condos just don't belong there. Maybe a few blocks away, but just not right where the main amusement area is.

  9. #339
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    I'm skeptical that having no condos whatsoever is such a good thing. I think you need a mix, it's that simple.

  10. #340

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    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
    Condos just don't belong there. Maybe a few blocks away, but just not right where the main amusement area is.
    Why?

  11. #341
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    They just don't mix and if they do, the amusements end up losing because tenants will eventually complain (especially with the onset of 311) about noise, crowds, litter, lights, etc., etc., etc.

    By the way, I thought we (not necessarily you and me, ablarc) went through this discussion somewhere here before.

  12. #342
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    I took a friend visiting to the city to Coney Island yesterday. We loved it, although it was really windy. I have a few pics if anyone would like to see.

  13. #343
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    Sure, why not. No one here ever dislikes pics.

  14. #344

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    /\Putting residential in this area is a sure fire way to give yourself a new generation of Nimbys. Residents won't put up with the nosie and cahos of a typical North American resort area. Not to mention that the 40 mintue ride on the D/Q/F/N is not going to appeal to the typical condo buyer. For that kind of distance, I'd want one of those charming Bensonhurst townhomes.

    I like his revisions and think they should be given a shot.

  15. #345
    Senior Member NewYorkDoc's Avatar
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    We started out with Nathans! I love it myself so I had to let her try this New York delight.



    A shot from the Boardwalk:





    The beach:





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