KINETIC CARNIVAL - The Coney Island Blog

A space of musings, past and current as well as the future of amusements in the legendary Coney Island and Beyond!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Year-End HOOPLA !

photo by Harbor Arts (Flickr.com)
Homegrown Brooklyn Weed: Sex-Crazing Drug Menace in Coney Island and Dumbo [Gowanus Lounge]

More Coney year-end wrap-ups from Gowanus Lounge:

Gowanus Lounge gives good cheers for 'best new ideas and things' to the ligthing of the Parachute Jump; calling it subtle but "we love it". Also to the NY Aquarium makeover calling them excellent visions..."let's get on with it".

As for some of the top 2007 Brooklyn Development Battles, GL points to Sitt and Company; "Will Mr. Sitt
get his way? Or will the community have a say? Stay tuned"

Among the most threatened Brooklyn Landmarks, GL speculates about the Wonder Wheel. "Protected in theory, but
a sneak attack by Thor Equities is not out of the question".

As part of the top ten stories GL states the following excerpt: "Coney Island Plan/Sale of Astroland. Developer
Joe Sitt's plans for Coney Island continued to develop with a number of iterations making the rounds in 2006. Most significantly, Mr. Sitt purchased Astroland, which will close at the end of the 2007 season, and began the process of evicting tenants on land he's already bought, making 2006 the last year before a long period of demolition, emptiness and construction. It remained very difficult to know what to make of the Coney plan, although Thor is best known as a developer of urban shopping centers and its Coney plan includes up to four 40-story highrises along the boardwalk."

And finally Kinetic Carnival is proud to be considered by GL as one of the top new Brooklyn blogs of 2006


And excerpt from the Daily News from their Brooklyn 2006: Pictures, places and people to remember
Coney's last ride
It was the end of an era for coney island and its ragtag, honky-tonk flavor as developer thor equities began squeezing out longtime tenants of the amusement mecca. first, more than a dozen businesses, including the owners of batting cages, go-carts and carny games, were told to pack up by the end of the year. But tempers really flared in November when the owners of Astroland, the neighborhood's oldest and largest park, announced they had sold the 3-acre site to thor.
by Jotham Sederstrom

Heroes, villains & a big stink [NY DailyNews]


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/29/2006 06:48:00 PM  0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thor May Bring The Circus To Town......Year-Round!

According to various reports as stated in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thor Equities has been in talks with The Big Apple Circus. Philip Thurton, public relations manager for Big Apple Circus said, “They [Thor] approached us. We’ve had a couple of talks — you could call them preliminary talks — but there is no plan. Nothing has been decided.”

Circuses were always part of Coney in one way or another. Small ones were held in Steeplechase and Luna Parks. Upon hearing that Thor wants to bring a circus back to Coney Island, CIUSA curator/CIDC board member, Dick Zigun said, “That’s terrific. I love it.”

In addition to The Big Apple Circus, and according to various sources as of which has not yet been confirmed Thor has not only communicated with Viacom's Nickelodeon but Disney as well.

If any of this is true, then it seems that Sitt and Thor Equities must be a bit confused in what to make of Coney's new amusement "extension". Earlier in the year they hired Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects to help transform ten acres along the boardwalk - culminating in a series of renderings released throughout the summer depicting a flashy stretch of Coney main-street at the foot of high towers. Later hiding the towers and throwing in a weaving generic roller coaster. Then there were preliminary talks with kid network Nickelodeon about the family resort that was declined for Governor's Island. Now, just last week it seems the slate has been erased (for the amusement "extension") for something different when Thor announced in a Community Board 13 meeting that hey hired a top amusement designer and producer, ThinkWell to conjure up a new dream for Coney. What, if any, talks with Disney is taking place surely seems far fetched. Especially since there is little room to play with when it comes to anything Disney - except for retail or a single attraction.

With all the probing for partners and artist consulting Thor is doing, nothing definite yet seems to be shaping up. And that's perhaps because Thor yet doesn't know how the ground under them will shape up to be. The city still needs to approve the rezoning needed as part of the Coney Island Development Corporation’s (CIDC) effort to convert Coney into a year-round destination. “Until Thor gets the city approval, no one is ready to put down money or commit yet,” said Jake Lynn, a representative for Thor Equities. The property owned by Thor is zoned for low-density commercial and outdoor amusements only and not for high rises to be built on as hotels or condos - the components Thor keeps pressing is needed for revenue and year-round possibilities. And perhaps a component many are now beginning to accept as making sense.

The main worry has been whether Thor's
intentions are for the benefit of Coney's past, present, and future spirit.


Thor in Talks with Big Apple Circus;Could Bring Big Top Back to Coney [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]
Can see full article here on CIUSA bulletin board (Courtesy of Brooklyn Daily Eagle)


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/16/2006 03:25:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thor Hires Entertainment Design Firm

Things may be starting to look brighter now that Thor has called upon the imagineers to do the dream work. It's a matter of time before the release of some concrete master planning. Hopefully, they will inspire and enthrall us!

In an Economic Development Committee meeting held last week at Community Board 13 many leading local civic leaders gathered and asked questions that have been looming amongst Thor skeptics at their Coney redoing.

Thor Equities spokesperson Lee Silberstein announced that they have retained one of the world’s foremost destination designers and producers to help make their Coney amusements the state-of-the-art, year-round destination they have been proposing.

First up, as soon as the 2007 summer season ends, will be an aesthetically appealing fence around the future amusement site in preps for construction and taking the advantage to create promotion and buzz.

Courier Life reported:

The firm, ThinkWell Design and Productions, envisions, develops and manages some of the top theme parks, museums, sports franchises, casinos and hotels in the world. Among its clients are Universal Studios in Japan and Florida and Cirque de Soleil worldwide.

Among the key questions on everybody’s lips for Silberstein was Thor’s plan for residential housing on the amusement area site which is all currently zoned C-7, meaning for amusements only. Silberstein responded that a limited amount – hundreds and not thousands -- of residential units would be developed on a new street tentatively called Front Street between the Bowery and the Boardwalk. The housing component is important for a 365-day, 24/7 district for the same reason it is being utilized in the Brooklyn Bridge Park development – to help pay for the project.

Silberstein also argued that the residential could be strong enough to help pay for some of the amusement area that won’t pay for itself. “You cannot build roller coasters, carousels and indoor water parks in an urban setting and expect it to generate enough revenue to pay for itself,” said Silberstein. “If it did I don’t think Coney Island would be in the position it is in today.”

Skeptics at the meeting inquired what kind of people would want to live in the middle of an area that has 250,000 people flooding the area on a hot summer day. Silberstein responded that many people love living in the heart of everything such as Times Square. “If we’re wrong about that, then we got the problem,” he said.

Another person at the meeting asked about the height of any development, stating nothing should be talker than the Parachute Jump, the Wonder Wheel or the Cyclone, which are all Coney Island landmarks.
Silberstein responded that such thinking goes against the very nature of Coney Island where amusement developers were always doing bigger, better and brasher. “If people have an attitude that height was a problem, the Parachute Jump would have never been built,” he said. Silberstein did say that any design would allow for view corridors of the Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump. Silberstein did not have any date when an actual project plan would be submitted, which the
city could then act on and begin a rezoning process.

Though Deno’s Wonder Wheel co-owner Dennis Vourderis has been dubious about the residential components, it seems he is starting to sway in favor of it - as probably most of the public will – that residential and retail is needed as a supplement to the amusements since the amusements can not support the project on their own. Though Thor is always calling it ‘an extension’ of the amusements, let’s hope they really don’t intend it as amusements being the extension of the residential.

It also looks like they mean to go high. As for those desiring to live in a Times Square setting - They'd most likey rather be on the higher floors, well away from the noise. So, it seems that the luxury high rises are their intentions.

Now it’s up to ThinkWell to start dreaming up the future of Coney.


Coney Set For Theme Pk Stamp - Top Designers Tapped to Reimagine ‘People’s Playground’ [Courier Life]


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/15/2006 01:34:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Other Player On The Boardwalk To Dish It Out At The New Child’s Restaurant

Joe Sitt and his Thor Equities will be joined on the boardwalk by Charles Bendit and his Taconic Investment Partners. Having done recent business together they will be doing further business side by side in the New Coney. The only thing between them will be the Cyclone Stadium. Taconic, a real estate investment firm with properties across the country, recently acquired two important parcels west of the stadium: the lot next the park and the Child’s Restaurant building.

As reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Taconic signed a 49-year lease for the Child’s two-story building with an open-air mezzanine in August, with the option to extend the lease or purchase the property if the landlord decides to sell. That same month, the company acquired from the City Investment Fund, at no recorded cost, the 168,000-square-foot lot across the street, where the Washington Bathhouse once stood.

“We are developing our plan for Child’s right now,” said Bendit, co-founder of Taconic. “I think ultimately, we’d like to restore it to what it once was, which was a food-type enterprise,” with possibilities including a combination of a restaurant, market and catering service. “I think [plans for the lot] are really going to be predicated on what the EDC and the city come up with.” Bendit added that he didn’t want to go into specifics about Taconic’s wishes for the site before the city made its final zoning determinations. But according to Recchia, housing is definitely on the table.

The Fund bought the lot in June for $90 million from Thor Equities — $77 million more than Thor had paid for the property only a year earlier. The move has been criticized by some locals as a sign that Thor CEO Joseph Sitt also intends to flip the 13 acres he’s been buying up between KeySpan Park and the New York Aquarium.

Founded in 1997, Taconic Investment Partners is a fully integrated real estate investment company that acquires office and multifamily properties. The firm also manages its own properties and provides asset and property management, leasing and financial reporting services.

Developer To Resurrect Once-Thriving Coney Landmark [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]
(can see full article here on CIUSA BBS {Courtesy of Brooklyn Daily Eagle}


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/12/2006 05:34:00 AM  1 comments links to this post

InTENT For Year-Round Amusements?

The city may be intent, on forcing...uhum...rather encouraging any amusement operators to go year-round.....or sell - but how and how much? The how much is obviously too much (An option even too steep for the Astroland's Albert family) and the how has not exactly been explained by the developer that claims everything will be year-round by 2012 or so. Perhaps one solution is a plan going up in Central Asia.

Found on Gowanus Lounge and originally reported on BBC News; A 500 foot tent or dome is planned for Astana, capital of Kasakhstan and designed by UK architect Norman Foster. The tent which will be made of special material that absorbs sunlight to create the effect of summer inside it will be built in just over a year.

BBC reports:
Underneath, in an area larger than 10 football stadiums, will be a city
with squares and cobbled streets, canals, shopping centres and golf courses.
The idea is to recreate summer, so that when the outside temperature is

-30C, the residents of the Kazakh capital can play outdoor tennis, take boat
rides or sip coffee on the pavement cafes.
Called Khan Shatyry, the project
is designed by Lord Foster, who has recently built a giant glass pyramid in
Astana.
"Nothing of the sort has been done before, and from the engineering
point of view it's an extremely difficult project," says Fettah Tamince, the
head of Turkey's development company Sembol that is building the tent.
Mr
Tamince is nevertheless confident the company can complete the construction in
just 12 months.

The architect firm further explains what Khan Shatyry will do for the city of Astana:

Held by a mast, the vast tent-like cable net structure is clad in ETFE, a
material that allows light to wash the interior spaces while sheltering them
from extreme weather conditions. A park steps up the height of the building in
undulating terraces providing public space and green oases for the visitors. A
tropical water park weaves its way through the landscape and its wave pools,
river and waterfall are lit by roof lights that are seamlessly integrated into
the design. The highest terrace is a viewing deck which will offer dramatic
views over the park.At the core of the building is a large flexible space that
will form the cultural hub of the centre, accommodating a varied programme of
events and exhibitions. Complemented by 40,000sqm of retail space with a wide
range of cafes, restaurants and cinemas, as well as ample covered car park
facilities, the Khan Shatyry will offer leisure facilities for all.

So far, Thor equities has not shown any visual plans on anything year-round. All the renderings, so far, have only shown activities for the outdoors. It would be interesting to see what the big developer in Coney comes up with to make their amusements year-round - without it all being housed indoors. Otherwise the New Coney may still end up as a seasonal destination to visit during the winter and leave the summers for the outdoor.

Then again, with all those beach goers on the Coney beach - Thor may still get their audience to come on up and step inside!


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/12/2006 01:01:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 11, 2006

Recent HOOPLA !

Photo by Mrs Smarty Pants (Flickr.com)


Coney Under Thor’s Hammer [Courier Life]
Deno’s Makes Pitch to Keep the ‘Wonder’ In Coney [Courier Life]
Is Wonder Wheel Next Coney Shoe to Drop? [Gowanus Lounge]
Does Thor Suck as Much as Forest City Ratner? [Gowanus Lounge]

Still Image:
Seriously excited! a story, in a few words
Dear Gothamist: Astroland Meets Planet of the Apes [Gothamist]






Moving Image:
Rube and Mandy at Coney Island: Edison Film Archive 1903 [Google Video]
NYCTV Blueprint: New York City, Coney Island [Google Video]
1983 Commercial for Cyclone "Back-Fire" [Google Video]





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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/11/2006 07:39:00 PM  0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Vintage Coney Color-Film Gems

Great new Coney vintage film clips in full color found through Getty Images on Google Video. A Coney visitor in the 40's filmed these short footages probably on a Bolex or other 8 millimeter color film. They are probably rare and, so far, have not been seen on any other documentary of Coney that is known to be released. It would be interesting to know if there is more footage circulating around in someone's libary.

Here are the LINKS to 22 very short film clips of stock footage.
1940's Color film
(
No sound)

Enjoy !

Low angle Parachute Jump and old ferris wheel

High angle of parachute going down near boardwalk

CANTED low angle of looping rocket ride

Low angle of people on rocket ride passing camera

PAN two subway trains entering + leaving Coney Island

Low angle of parachute going up People on an old ferris wheel sweeping passed camera

Close up of people on amusement park ride in Coney Part I

Close up of people on amusement park ride in Coney Part II

People on roller coaster passing passing by

Wide shot of large Wonder Wheel

People riding Tilt-a-Whirl

High angle of looping swinging ride

Low angle of parachute with couple going up and coming down on ride

Wide shot of people riding swing ride inside Steeplechase Pavilion of Fun Part I

Wide shot of people riding swing ride inside Steeplechase Pavilion of Fun Part II

Low angle tilt down of parachute Jump ride

Roller coaster point of view uphill and downhill (notice Trump building not there yet)

Women's skirts blow up as they exit fun house (though can't see skirt blowing up)

High angle of people on revolving Rocket ride passing by

People on Flying Scooter ride passing by

High angle wide shot of revolving Rocket ride





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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/07/2006 05:48:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Astrotower's Fate Stands In The Balance

Photo by gritchelle (Flickr.com)

The 43 year old, 275-foot "Space Tower" (15 feet taller than the Parachute Jump) stands still in the balance as its fate is decided upon by the city's decision to keep it in the area. That's if the city is willing to split the cost (approximately $400,000) of relocating it to another spot in Coney Island - most likely west of Keyspan Park. Carol Albert, owner of the recently sold Astroland offered to share cost to move it if the city would accept it.

But Albert added, as the NYPost reported:

If the city doesn't accept her offer, she said, she has a buyer who wants to
move it to an undisclosed amusement park somewhere down South. "It's a real icon
for Coney Island that's just as visible as the Parachute Jump, and it would be a
real shame if it left the area," she said.

The city's Economic
Development Corp. confirmed it received Albert's offer and is considering
it.

"The city, taking ownership of the Astrotower is an interesting
idea that warrants exploration, but we would first need to better understand the
associated costs," said Joshua Sirefman, interim president of the EDC and the
chairman of its Coney Island Development Corp.

Meanwhile, some
Coney Island residents are considering pushing for landmark status for the
Astrotower to ensure it stays.

Built in 1963, the ride is a
rotating, glass-enclosed compartment that takes passengers to the top of the
tower. It serves as a moving observatory, offering magnificent views of
the ocean and city. Astroland will open for a final season next year.


It's quite difficult to imagine the Astrotower to be part of anything Thor if it were to be landmarked. For them it would be an eye sore. And as had been proven in the past, landmark status is reversible. Many landmarked structures have had their landmark status lifted to make way for development. The only options for the fate of the tower would be for the city to cough up the $200,000 to move it and hope that doing so will not destabilize it for further operation - and plant it somewhere near their B&B Carousel. Or if not demolished, it would find itself in a new home showing riders 360◦ panoramic views of Busch Gardens or Weeki Wachee.

Coney I. "Tower" Struggle [NYPost]


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/06/2006 02:39:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thor's Hammer Smells Like Fish!

Photo by NYC Tom's (Flickr.com)

Many Coney denizens and locals have been and scrutinizing Thor Equities's real plans for Coney Island with many conspiracy theories about what's really going on. As Courier Life reported: Several city officials including some on the city-created Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) are becoming skeptical of Sitt's Thor - or at least publicly doing so. And one, on condition of anonymity.

A theory that is becoming predominant is of "flipping". Sitt has a reputation for buying properties and then marketing them as something else, before “flipping” them for a large profit. As they did when they bought the former Washington Bathhouse House building at 2015 Boardwalk West in 2005 and sold it a little over a year later for a hefty $77 million profit.

CIDC President Lynn Kelly has announced that they will stay the course and see
to it that whoever and whatever is built in Coney will follow their guidelines for the enhancement of a year-round destination to facilitate the best economic growth and opportunities for the local community. She also states that any rezoning demands extensive amount of analysis. "Coney Island is unique in it has big and little picture issues that are very complicated,” Kelly said.

“This is history making. We don’t want to do anything in a vacuum and want to be thorough and transparent in our approach. I can understand why a landowner might want to say go faster, but what is paramount is to stay true to the vision,” she added.

Though her words may sound comforting for those who have been skeptical, they are not enough to convince the theorists of the probability that Thor is playing with a fishy hammer. Or for that matter that the city has their hands in the net as well. It would be interesting to see what realities surface as more develops.

Coney Under Thor’s Hammer [Courier Life]
Is Thor Coney Ticking Off City Officials? [Gowanus Lounge]


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/05/2006 03:36:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Costumed Characters Strolling Around New Coney

With the same gangly slumming Bugs Bunny and Batman do at Great Adventure, Sponge-Bob and Dora the Explorer want to emulate them and waylay children and adult visitors of the Nickelodeon resort they hope will thrive at the New Coney.

Upon the increasing rumblings of Coney gearing up its purposed “revitalization” the children network’s parent company Viacom has set their eyes on Coney to have their Nickelodeon themed resort (Similar to their resort: Nickelodeon Family Suites in Orlando, Florida) as part of the 3.1 acres of Astroland which was purchased by Thor last week. This comes after city and state officials previously axed plans for a children's theme park by Nickelodeon on Governor’s Island, which also included an indoor theme park.

Yet, as the NY Post reported yesterday, it is unclear whether the water park has come up again in preliminary talks with Thor. “Companies are interested in Coney Island now that there is a serious proposal for the area's revival." said Lee Silberstein, Thor Equities spokesman. Nickelodeon Senior VP Howard Smith said, "We think a Nickelodeon-themed family resort hotel would be hugely popular with New Yorkers."

Sponge-Bog & Pals Eyeing Move To Coney [NYPost]



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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/05/2006 01:24:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Vague Arquitectonica Designs for New Coney

Strange illustrations from Arquitectonica's landscape architecture and planning division: ArquitectonicaGEO. These drawings seem to be of structures on some part of the proposed Thor development. Cleary, noticeable, surrounding these structures, are what appear to be high rises. The same high rises that appeared in the earlier drawings found on the Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects website that were immediately retracted this past summer when they started popping up on blogs.

The recent Thor releases seemed cluttered and whimsical but these look vague and tamely dismal. The mini-parachutes that appeared to be a running theme seem to have morphed into jellyfish on sticks or mushroom lamps.
Whatever they are supposed to be - be it part of the midway, a hotel or condo's front entrance,
or another area away from the “amusement” side - it sure is in a completely different direction from what the last Thor renderings have presented. If those were unConey these are of another world very far from Coney.

Perhaps these are merely experimental sketches and only fodder for the ArquitectonicaGEO website.



ArquitectonicaGEO is a landscape architecture firm, focused on environmentally sensitive design. The firm explores the complex challenges of the contemporary built and natural environments, developing design solutions that balance a modern aesthetic with environmental concerns to create an aesthetic and sustainable landscape.

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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/02/2006 03:38:00 AM  0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thor UnHoopla!

photo by Stefan Falke (Stefan Falke's Eye)

Comments and reactions to sale of Astroland gathered by the great Brooklyn blog: Gowanus Lounge

Coney Island Deathwatch:
Reactions to Astroland Demise
More Eulogies

Gowanus Lounge's own emotional reaction:

Killing one of the last two Coney Island amusement parks--no matter how unspectacular Astroland might be--is like ripping out part of Coney's soul. It verges on being an act of cultural violence. This is the point at which a mayor with a sense of history and a borough president who utters more than empty cheers would step in to say, 'enough' and work to ensure that Astroland stays a genuine amusement park and that the amusement zone--which is Coney Island's historic heart--is protected by zoning.

We would love to know exactly what Mr. Sitt has in mind for Coney Island, especially in purchasing Astroland.


Other bulletin boards and threads.
Stern Fan Network excerpt: It also means that the entire area between the new baseball stadium and the aquarium
will all become private property, and that includes the beach in front. That means from now on if you want to go swimming you have to walk several blocks west from the train station.
SubChat.com excerpt: Thor Equities Has Purchased Coney Island Yards from the MTA!!!


Cool Images: Taken by Stefan last night
Stefan Falke's Eye


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posted by Omar Robau @ 12/01/2006 05:30:00 AM  0 comments links to this post