Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thor Gets Tough With The City

photo by rosemanios (

All the hype in advertising what the glitzy new Coney Island will be, may all end up washed ashore before a single component even gets blue printed.

"The Coney Island project isn't a financially feasible investment", declares Lee Silberstein, spokesman for Thor Equities, " without the inclusion of high-rise housing along Stillwell Avenue just off the fabled seaside boardwalk", he adds.

The city and the economic development corporation are standing firm on their ground to protect Coney's amusement area. "Our priorities remain to preserve and enhance Coney Island's historic amusement area, make sure it stays open to the public and create economic opportunities for local residents - and we have serious concerns that a predominance of residential towers . . . would work against those goals." said a spokesman for the city's economic development corporation.

Thor doesn't want to hear it and has raised their hammer up to the city, threatening them with having them lose their biggest private investment in Coney's future. "Everybody wants Coney Island to be revitalized, and housing has got to be part of it," Silberstein told the New York Post.

As the Post reported:

Chuck Reichental, a member of the agency that will determine how Coney Island is rezoned, said a majority of residents opposes housing in the amusement district as well as any new development exceeding the height of the 262-foot landmark Parachute Jump
This may be the start of a battle between Thor and the city. The next few steps will show if the city will stand firmly in defence of amusements or yield to Thor Equities.

City Threat To Beach Coney Island Revamp [NY Post]

Fox Movietone Film from 1930

A nice little film to bring us back to the great summers experienced by the visitors of 1930's Coney. A warm reminder, especially now, during the middle of winter. If you're patient - towards the end of the video, you can see some more really rare images of some of the rides back then. Those wild rides and attractions were surely the thing that made Coney goers enthralled and fascinated with so much fun and excitement.

From Fox Movietone news film reels (Around the World in Sound and Picture on the Magic Carpet series)

"Meet Me Down at Coney Island (1930)" by dutchmazz [YouTube]

Thursday, January 25, 2007



2011 is the year slated for the opening of Coney Island Park - the 250 million dollar amusement area double the size of Astroland. The new 6-acre amusement park being drawn up by ThinkWell Design & Production will boast 21 rides, a man-made canal for boat rides, a glass-encased atrium with commercial space and a hotel.

"Whatever you come looking for at Coney Island, it's all going to be there", said Chris Durmick, creative director of Thinkwell Design.

Included with the Cyclone and the Leviathan will be a third coaster: the Aviator which would soar 120 feet (with gondolas guided individually by hand-held joysticks), according to the Daily News exclusive report which also states:

Coney Island Park, would be one component of a 13-acre, $1.5 billion plan by Thor that includes an indoor water park and residential, retail and entertainment components.
"We're trying to deliver on the promise of what Coney Island is," added Durmick.

Attention will now be on ThinkWell as we eagerly await and see what specific plans they will conjure up. With this new report Thor seems to have gained many points to their side. Let's hope Thor and company keep the promise and integrity of the importance of the amusements in Coney.


Will it be Coney Island Park or Coney Park as shown in the smaller picture above, depicting a main entrance? (Despite the fact that Thor has stated in the past that this will not be a gated park) Well, there already is a Coney Island Park - in Ohio which boasts their more than 50 rides and attractions and one giant pool.

B'klyn fun park,by power of Thor [NY Daily News]

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Coney's Muscle Beach For Lightweights

Sitting useless in the cold howling winds of the Coney beach rests the Parcourse Fitcenter installed somewhat recently by GameTime. Though it's nice to see something fairly new at the beach, it seems anything that really gets done here is sports related. From Keyspan park to the coming new 40,000-square-foot fitness complex operated by the YMCA, including an aquatic center, a gymnasium, a six-lane indoor pool, as well as meeting rooms and office space. The complex which will, of course, be part of the residential 'component' is slated to be completed by the summer of 2009.

However, it is fair to say that physical activity has always been a part of Coney. Charles Atlas even had his inspiration at Coney, which glamorized fitness by mythologizing an experience he'd had as a teenager on a Coney Island beach - when a bully had kicked sand in his face.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Surf N' Turf on Surf

A new seafood restaurant is to open this spring on Surf Avenue in Coney Island next to the Shore Theater.

Many smaller storefronts are opening up in Coney despite the talk of big master plans that seem to describe combining the parcels of lots together for larger developement. However, now it seems that the plans are calling for big enough development that will just sit within the bounderies already established by the streets of the amusement district.

The HOOPLA Continues !

Gowanus Lounge

Filling Out the Coney Island Vision

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

City Moving Slow On Thor's Rezoning Wishes

Image from CIDC website

According to reports in the Courier Life, Thor has already submitted a master plan to the city a while ago. But the city is taking their sweet time in deciding what they want to rezone and not. However, a preliminary comprehensive rezoning is expected to take place this coming spring. And while the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and the Uniform Land Use Review (ULURP) proceedings are taking place, there will be a hearing for public comment.

Thor Equities who’s been meeting with city officials and the Coney Island Development Corporation (
CIDC), says that the city has studied their plans, which they submitted over a year ago, and they had hoped that the city, which has been extremely slow, would have made their response by now

“The city’s in control. We then fill in the blanks. We’ve done our master plan work, but we’ll have to modify to fit in with what the city does,” they added.

The city's lack for a quicker response may be due to the fact that two key people have left their positions with the city.

As Courier Life reported:
These include Josh Sirefman, who under Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff spearheaded the city’s initiative to redevelop Coney Island, and Regina Myer, who served as the Department of City Planning Brooklyn Borough Director. While a replacement for Sirefman has not been named yet, Purnima Kapur, the former Planning Department director of the Bronx, has already replaced Myer. “Ms. Kapur has been actively looking at it [Coney Island], as has been Amanda Burden [City Planning director] to evaluate the approaches and preserve the amusement character and help it to evolve to a year-round destination with increased economic opportunity and a mix of uses appropriate to the area,” said City Planning spokesperson Rachaele Raynoff. ……

……. Silberstein said, "The time the public gets to review a plan like that is in the ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] process. We want it to be in the ULURP process already. We were hoping that we would have been certified with the ULURP already. We were hoping they would have finished a year ago already …….

…… In terms of residential, our goal is not necessarily just year-round residents …...

…… A lot of our residential we hope are going to be folks on time share, folks that come and buy like two weeks out of the year and/or some second homeowners like they do at a lot of resort and vacation spots, but the biggest part that make up where people sleep is going to be the transient folks — people who sleep in the hotels and/or the time shares, as an example. There’s no rule that says sorry, you are too wealthy to come visit Coney Island and sleep in a hotel. Part of democracy is you want anybody at any income level to welcome them to be able to sleep in Coney Island.

In keeping with his promise for job developments, Sitt has hired someone who will focus on job development and other job programs for Coney. “That is earlier than any developer that I know of. We don’t even have a defined project yet. We certainly don’t have zoning yet and Joe is willing to invest and start creating and developing a jobs program so that the jobs created by the Coney Island project stay in the community”, says Silberstein. “That is an enormous commitment to the community early on.”, he concluded.

‘Springtime’ for Coney rezone [Courier Life]
Q & A with Coney Island mega-developer [Courier Life]