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!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

City Needs To Acquire More Coney Land For A Prosperous Coney Future

Image courtesy of  Pavement Pieces  (Flickr.com)

The city did wonders to purchase the  6.5 acres of land from Thor Equities then lease it to Zamperla USA for their new Luna Park.  The new amusement park, making this past summer season one of the busiest Coney Island has seen in a while.  It also created a fixture in Coney Island for amusements. But more property currently owned by other private entities like Thor Equities needs to be purchased by the city or other civic minded entities in order to maintain the integrity of Coney Island as an amusement destination. And to also make the area in a viable revenue generator for the city itself.

In a panel discussion this past Thursday, September 28th 2010, entitled, "Heritage, Rides, Redevelopment: What's Next For Coney Island?",  executive at the Walt Disney Company, David Malmuth, argued that the area could easily draw 3.5 million visitors and tourists.  He stated that, “Land control is the key to making Coney viable and successful on a long-term basis,”

In a press release today the Save Coney Island group indicated about Malmuth's comments that, at least 26.5 acres of land for rides were require to accommodate this level of attendance. At present, he said, only 11.5 acres of land are set aside for amusements and only 6.5 acres are currently in active use.
“Size does matter,” he said. “If we’re going to make Coney Island a successful destination, we have to get to a certain scale that allows it to draw people, and hopefully draw people on a year-round basis.”

But he warned that land prices in Coney Island’s amusement district are currently too expensive for amusement operators to be able to invest in buying land for amusements.


Malmuth went on to stress the city needs to step it up and carry the major load in acquiring more property.  And how massively important it is to keep those historic buildings that are days away from their permanent doom.  Renovating them and showcasing them as Coney's historic area is hugely important in "terms of connecting people to place", to paraphrase Malmuth.

The city is running out of time.  The next few days and weeks are imperative to the future of Coney Island.

[The full release by the Save Coney Island group after the jump]:


DEVELOPER STATES THAT PUBLIC PURCHASE OF LAND NECESSARY TO MAKE CONEY ISLAND GREAT

Brooklyn, NY  October 6, 2010 — In a panel discussion at CUNY, veteran developer David Malmuth argued that a public purchase of the Coney Island property owned by Thor Equities and Horace Bullard was necessary to revitalize the historic amusement district as a cultural destination and economic engine.

“Land control is the key to making Coney viable and successful on a long-term basis,” Malmuth said Thursday September 30 at the CUNY Graduate Center during a panel discussion titled “Heritage, Rides, and Redevelopment: What’s Next for Coney Island?”

Malmuth argued that not enough land is currently owned by entities interested in operating outdoor amusements.  Citing research he did for the Municipal Art Society’s “Imagine Coney” project, he said that “Coney could easily draw 3.5 million people” a year, but that at least 26.5 acres of land for rides were require to accommodate this level of attendance. At present, he said, only 11.5 acres of land are set aside for amusements and only 6.5 acres are currently in active use. 

“Size does matter,” he said. “If we’re going to make Coney Island a successful destination, we have to get to a certain scale that allows it to draw people, and hopefully draw people on a year-round basis.”

But he warned that land prices in Coney Island’s amusement district are currently too expensive for amusement operators to be able to invest in buying land for amusements.

“There’s a real mismatch between the private ownership of the land and public interest,” Malmuth said. “Either the city or a civic-minded entity needs to step up and carry the major load in acquiring property, so that all of the things that we want to happen can be enabled” Malmuth said. 

Malmuth pointed to the success of Luna Park, which was made possible by a purchase by the City of 6.5 acres of land, which was then leased to Zamperla USA, the operators of the park. Malmuth also cited the role public investment and land acquisition played in revitalizing Times Square and 42nd Street, turning the area into a key economic engine for New York, “generating billions of dollars annually.”

Finally, Malmuth also suggested that a civic or public purchase of Coney Island’s historic buildings, several of which are now threatened with demolition by Thor Equities, was also necessary to revitalize the amusement area.

“Keeping those historic buildings is massively important in terms of connecting people to place. If you knock them down, then it could be anywhere along the water’s edge,” Malmuth said. “But if you keep those buildings, and you transform them, it’s a statement of hope that is really extraordinarily powerful.”

As an executive at the Walt Disney Company, Malmuth contributed to the revitalization of Times Square by spearheading the restoration and redevelopment of the New Amsterdam Theatre. Later he was the key project executive on the Hollywood & Highland development and its Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.

Other participants in the panel discussion included historian Michael Immerso, author of “Coney Island: The People’s Playground”; Valerio Ferrari, president and CEO of Zamperla USA, operator of Coney Island’s new Luna Park; and Lisa Ackerman, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the World Monuments Fund. The panel was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Mike Wallace.  It was co-sponsored by Environmental Psychology Program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, the NYC Graduate Urban Research Network, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Save Coney Island, the Historic Districts Council, Coney Island USA and the Coney Island History Project.

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posted by Omar Robau @ 10/06/2010 05:35:00 PM 

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