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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