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A space of musings, past and current as well as the future of amusements in the legendary Coney Island and Beyond!
The old (mush larger) kiosk that sits under the Cylcone was revamped and enlarged a bit for something else that will be placed there. Since it didn't look ready for this Sunday, perhaps it will the exhibit for the Cylcone's 80th Birthday that Charles Denson has talked about. The Cylone exhibit is scheduled for sometime during the middle of the summer.
Several officials told The Post they're concerned that Joseph Sitt's next
selling spree could involve the massive assemblage of beachfront land his Thor Equities has bought up in Coney Island - especially if City Hall doesn't allow his planned $2 billion entertainment complex to include luxury housing.
"The guy has a track record of flipping land for big bucks," said one source close to the project. "He's done it already in Coney Island and other Brooklyn projects like [Downtown Brooklyn's] Albee Square Mall, and who's to say he won't play the city again?"
In Coney Island, Sitt last year sold one of the properties he bought for $90 million - a 168,000-square-foot tract known as the Washington Bath House site - after the city said it would allow residential development there. A
spokesman for Thor Equities, Lee Silberstein, insisted that the company isn't planning to back out of Coney Island.
Paving the way for a new and 'last' season!
Dianna Carlin, founder of Lola Staar boutique talks with the Bay News:
“This is my livelihood,” Carlin said. “I just bought my first apartment. And on an emotional level I just knew this was the last summer of Coney Island as we know it. I just couldn't give up that experience.”
Further, Carlin believes that because Thor Equities is far from building anything this year, the demolition of the batting cages and miniature golf course on Stillwell Avenue was premature and did not have to take place as quickly as it has. “Coney Island looks horrific,” Carlin said. “It’s like a war zone. Basically, they’re trying to blacken Coney Island just to strong arm the city to get the rezoning they want.”
The debate of whether amusements can coexist with living spaces is one part of the problem that Thor Equities is proposing for Coney Island - the other is their argument that the amusements can not thrive on their own.
Lee Silberstein, spokesman for Thor Equities, said financial experts hired by the company have so far found that the amusement park as a stand-alone concept would operate at a loss over its lifetime. He said the preliminary numbers, which haven’t been released, were predicated on 1.4 million visitors coming to the $250 million park that would replace Astroland, a ‘huge leap of faith’ considering that currently, Astroland only has 350,000 annual visitors, according to its owner, Carol Hill Albert. Albert said her family, which has operated the park for 45 years, originally wanted to be part of the new, year-round Coney Island.
“But the problem was, I don’t think that anyone really got into the nuts and bolts of how we were going to make this place year-round,” she said. “It’s a mind-blowing expense that could only be supported by probably a hotel. Certainly no amusement park could afford that.
Sitt will also have to contend with a growing “Save Coney Island” movement. People like Captain Bob, burlesque dancers and freak show performers plan to literally show up at the company’s doorstep in the coming weeks to demand it scrap the condo plan. Charles Denson, author of “Coney Island: Lost and Found” (ironically, the book Sitt passes out to
his investors), said he is also against the project. “If he would have been more imaginative [with the Stillwell Plan], maybe I would have supported it,” said Denson. “But what he showed is so generic and ugly that there would be no choice but to oppose it.”
“Corporations are not going to be able to go in there and justify [investing in amusements] to their shareholders. That’s what the public is going to have to digest. If it were true [that amusements are profitable], Coney Island would be filled with rides. People would be fighting over land to make money.” Of course, Bullard also has a stake in the city’s rezoning. He said he’ll wait until the city approves its rezoning before deciding what to do with his six parcels, sell them to Sitt or another developer, go into some kind of partnership, or build something there himself, and would prefer a ‘mixed use’ zoning.
Bids are due in mid-April, but agency officials couldn't say whether things would be up and running by summer. A similar request last year drew no respondents, but the agency has increased advertising and outreach efforts. The hope is that what is currently a lightly used parcel in Steeplechase Plaza near KeySpan Park just off W. 19th St. will become an extension of the amusements east of Stillwell Ave. - some of which have been cleared by developer Thor Equities as it bids to develop housing and rides in the area. But there may be a deeper problem. Despite ongoing efforts toWhile several bidders showed up for a site tour in Coney Island last week there is no mention of what has been proposed or planned. And perhaps it may seem difficult for the any contractors to be inspired to place any offers with the uncertainty of what may happen in Coney Island while the big developer is working out with the city their own plans.
revitalize the neighborhood's amusement district and convert it to year-round operations, business is still very seasonal. That could make it hard for an operator to recoup the initial investment required for a business - which one veteran operator estimated at roughly $1 million.
"It sounds like they would want a fortune just to go in there," said Rich Welter, a former Long Islander who now owns Sunset Water sports in Key West, Fla. "At 50 bucks for a parasail ride, you've got to do a lot of rides to make it happen."