Two summers ago, under the Cyclone in the Coney Island History Project, Joey Coney Sitt of Thor Equities excitedly pulled open a CI History Project’s pamphlet and exclaimed to Charles Denson, director of the CIHP, something like “See these guys…Thompson…Dundy? I’m going to be like them for Coney Island one day!” Whether Mr. Sitt really believed that because he loved Coney Island so much or simply bought into his own gimmick and only out to make a profit, we may never know because Mr. Sitt may now, instead, go down in Coney history as another Horace Bullard.
Last week it was released or leaked to the press that the city is in serious negotiations with Joe Sitt and Thor Equities to buy their 10.5 property for a rumored price tag of somewhere between $200 to $250 million. This will include the propert under the Astroland.
Is Joe Sitt ready to give up because he realizes the chicken game is over?
The New York Post writes:
A Sitt spokesman declined comment, but sources said the developer had a change of heart and is willing to give up his two-year game of chicken with the administration over the future of Coney Island for several reasons.
To be exact, three major points could indicate that Thor and Sitt’s highlights on the Coney Island history timeline is about to stop here.
The NY Post writes:
* The city last month beat Sitt to buying a one-acre property in the middle of the developer's land. Sitt desired the site to have the contiguous acreage needed for his entertainment complex plan.
* With the City Council revising term limits, Bloomberg is no longer a lame duck. Sitt had counted on taking his chances with a new mayor.
* Sitt needs city backing for major development projects he's pushing in Red Hook and Bensonhurst, so he's trying to smooth his relationship with the administration by working out a deal in Coney Island.
Councilman Domenick Recchia who was previously opposed to Mayor’s plan to convert areas in the amusment core into parkland and who seemed to be on Thor’s side claims to have put the negotiations on the table. He seems to be happy that Astroland may be revived from its flatline status once again. Recchia said "The Mayor is committed to bringing back Astroland, at least for next summer".
Other points that indicate Joe Sitt is likely caving in, is from frequent poster on the Coney Island USA message board, Switchback. He writes:
It is probably more like Sitt is suddenly willing to negotiate the sale of his Coney property and probably even approached the city this time. Why? Let’s look at the facts. Thor Equities was not able to come up with the money to finish payments on Ward's property and wound up losing it by default. This means they have a cash flow problem. It also means that they are probably in danger of losing the Astroland site to whoever they got the loan to pay for it. With Thor Equities unable to own Ward's including Jones Walk means they have no way of shutting down Deno’s kiddie park And since Jones Walk is now owned by the city and now becomes a public right of way that means no way in hell can Sitt combine it with other properties without it being demapped by the legislature. And once he loses Astroland to the bank then it is game over.
Another CIUSA board poster feels that Switchback is right and that we shouldn’t be so excited about all this until it’s a done deal because Astroland rides, at the moment, look like they're getting packed up to be shipped out. While yet another poster thinks this is simply a re-election bid by Bloomberg.
So, until we see the Astroland Astrotower being dismantled and an official announcement by Astroland owner/operator, Carol Albert be released and also see a “Flea by the Sea” flea market never come to Coney Island, we could be safe to assume that Joe Sitt still has his eye on joining the Coney Island History Project’s Wall of Fame and not their ‘Wall of Shame’ (which would join him with the likes of Robert Moses and Fred Trump). Then again he probably wouldn’t make that wall either because all Joey Coney would have done in this case is just a lot of noise. But nonetheless, the noise needed to wake up the Coney Island revival and get it moving into its future.