Saturday, March 31, 2007

REMINDER: Show Your Support And Sign That Petition

A few weeks back they put up a petition to support planning director Amanda Burden to help save Coney Island. Though some have said that she does not have the full power in the matter - many believe she does. Well, perhaps not enough because out of the 10 thousand signatures needed only 1,090 so far have signed. There is plenty to go. So if you think this will help - then spread the word. There is a good opportunity to do so this Sunday when many of us who want to save Coney's true spirit will be there. The deadline is ongoing but it would sure be nice to see, at least , a real show of support.


Please show support for NYC Planning Director Amanda M. Burden in saving Coney Island!! [Online petition]

There are plenty of comments left by those who already signed.
Sponsor: Sharon Carlaine

New Picture Kiosk At The Cyclone

A few workers were installing a new kiosk for pictures. Now you can preserve your frozen look of excitement from the Cyclone's drop captured in a photo. A big white box labeled Big Shot now sits at the bottom of the Cyclone drop.

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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Coneys Land At City Hall

Coney Savers were in full force today at the steps of City Hall - dancing, marching, and voicing their concerns before a swarm of reporters from all levels of the media outlets, about the development that is threatening the very spirit of Coney Island.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

KinetOscope Video: THORasick Park

"Welcome to THORasick Park!"

Coming real soon!


Get Out Your Marching Colors!

photo by dancharvey (

Save Coney Island Demonstration UPDATE

The true spirit of Coney Island, in all of it's splendor, will rock City Hall !!

Join us on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan as we protest Thor Equities' proposal to build high rise, luxury condos in heart of the Amusement District in Coney Island. Help us to create a grand spectacle to exemplify the true spirit of Coney Island. We will be showing support for the City's position against this rezoning of the Amusement District.

Friday, March 30th, 2007
11:00-11:30 at the fountain in front of City Hall

11:30-12:00 We will parade around the block and onto the steps of City Hall

12:00-1:00 Join us on the steps of City Hall at noon. Please tell the guards that you are attending the "Save Coney Island Demonstration."

Our speakers will include Charlie Denson (author of Coney Island Lost and Found), Richard Eagon (Coney Island Hysterical Society), Louis Scarcella (Coney Island Polar Bears), Dianna Carlin (Lola Staar), Jo Weldon (cultural activist) and other Coney Island scholars and colorful members of the community.

See the spectacle unfold on the steps of City Hall as our list of stunning performers testify to the true spirit of Coney Island. Performers will include the Hungry March Band, the Dazzle Dancers, Tigger, Miss. Coney Island, Angie Pontani will appear as Miss. Cyclone and many other jugglers, clowns, stilt walkers, musicians, dancers, mermaids and much much more!!

1:00 after the demonstration we will parade up Broadway.

This fabulous event will be hosted by some of New York's most colorful burlesque performers and speakers from the community!! In addition saving our beloved Coney Island, it is going to be loads of fun!!

Glitter!! Face Paint!! Costumes!! Aquatic Spectacles!! Mermaids and more!!


We encourage you to express your love of Coney Island in your attire at the demonstration. Feel free to wear a colorful costume, sport your favorite silly hat or crazy sunglasses, bust out those angel wings or mermaid costume, or any other visual expression of the fun and creativity that signifies Coney Island.

Please bring colorful signs that express your love of Coney Island and your hopes for the future redevelopment of Coney Island. You can use a slogan like "No Condos in Coney" or make up your own. The only criteria is that signs cannot be held with a stick or pole. They must be hand held in order to pass security. Get out your markers, glitter and poster paint and have fun!!

You will have to go through security to get onto the City Hall steps. The guards are aware that many people will be wearing costumes. This should not create a problem getting through security and onto the steps of City Hall. This demonstration is totally legal and legit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Lightpole Banners Among CIDC Meeting Points

Commemorating anniversaries was the theme among last night's CIDC Coney Island Development Corporation's meeting which was held in the education hall at the New York Aquarium, on the subject of banners for the new and 'last' season of Coney Island. The board unanimously voted on the banners which would be attached to the light poles along the boardwalk and various parts in Coney. The banners call for about $27 thousand dollars for about 70 light poles. The designs that were shown commemorate the anniversaries of The Cylcone, Nathan's Famous, Gargiulo's restaurant, The Mermaid Parade, and The New York Aquarium. The board still has to gain funding approval. One member said, "The banners have always been a great idea. They will be seen all the time. Not like a single event - this is more permanent. Everyone sees it."

Among other issues that were discussed was the idea to keep Stillwell Avenue (behind Nathan's to the boardwalk) active and safe during the season, which is where most of the demolition is taking place. Ideas thrown about were arts and crafts booths, kiosks of food concessions and souvenir stands. Dick Zigun wanted to make sure that careful consideration be taken for the kind of competition it would create for the souvenir shops already in business along Stillwell.

Council member Dominic Recchia mentioned his concerns with creating more jobs for Coney residents under the Doe Fund in regards to street cleaning. Recchia acknowledged that Coney Island has a real problem in keeping up with the garbage after a fully crowded day.

Also, touched on were various marketing efforts including promotional giveaways, the issue of the Steeplechase Plaza and some of the other streetscape improvement points like street furniture.

The meeting adjourned rather quickly. Others present were a few members of the Astella Dev. Corp., Lola Staar's Dianna Carlin, author Charles Denson, and Rapid T. Rabbit's Richard Concepcion. As well as members of the CIDC board and president, Lynn Kelly.

(It was a great pleasure to meet some of these individuals whom I haven't met in person before. Though, unfortunately Mr. Zigun left too quickly.)

Will Joe Sitt Or Flip?

photo by wallyg (

According to Thor Equities’ Joe Sitt's track record for flipping properties, Coney Island may be in jeopardy of being bought by another developer with the same intentions, or becoming a desolate oasis for many years. Thor has recently come under fire from the city and the community for threatening to flatten and blight Coney Island if they did not get the rezoning they demand. Now there are concerns that Thor and Sitt will pick up and sell.

The New York Post reports:

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?"

About five years ago Sitt bought the Albee Square Mall on Fulton Street in Brooklyn for $24 million. Then after pumping $10 million dollars in excitement about revamping the mall with a glamorous makeover and renaming it The Gallery at Fulton Street - he turned around, flipped the property and sold it for a hefty profit of $125 million. Never going through with the grand plans they proposed. This, of course, came after the city rezoned to allow for larger development.

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.

It would seem unreasonable to flip the property they bought in Coney Island without the rezoning - therefore the lack of demanding a high resale price for it after the city has made clear that they are standing firm on the importance of the amusement district.

Even though the city has stated that they are for some rezoning, there yet has to be outlined the specific area of the amusement district Thor wants rezoned. As well as the release of specific plans, designs, or conceptions for the residential components which as they claim are the most integral part of their project.

Cyclone Swirls Around Coney Island Builder [NY Post]
Is 'Flipper' Attacking Coney Island? [Curbed]

Coney Art Swipe

Was the wood-painted clown face near the 'Shoot Out the Star' arcade game swiped?

A few weeks back the question was asked as to who will preserve Coney's ads and art. With the new Coney to take the place of the old - many see Coney's art, ads, and signage as valuable items. It would come as no surprise that any of these pieces at arm's length would be easily swiped. Unless, the business owner took it off before someone else does.....some one else did!

Last Season's HOOPLA Revs Up!

Paving the way for a new and 'last' season!

Hope Springs Eternal: Coney's Shoot the Freak Lives!!! [Gowanus Lounge]
Last Season of Old Coney Island [gothamist]
Getting Ready for the New Coney Island Season [Gowanus Lounge]
Astroland Is Prepared To Ride Into the Sunset [NY Sun]

New Coney Island Season Coming: The Brookvid [Gowanus Lounge]

Other Rev-Ups:

Businesses along the Bowery begin opening up and getting ready for the new and 'last' season. Slim, ready and waiting, stands optimistic about business this season at his 'Shoot Out the Star' clown water race arcade game. 'Sideshow by the Seashore' opens up and airs out for opening day and the bumblebees are taken out to be hooked up to their kiddie ride.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lola Speaking Out Over Gag Order

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.”

Thor Equities eclipses Lola Staar Boutique [Bay News]

"No Condos In Coney" Demonstration at City Hall

Image by MacRonin47 (

On the steps of City Hall in Manhattan

Friday, March 30th

Parade to City Hall 11:00
Performers 11:30
Speakers 12:00
Performers 12:30
After Parade up Broadway 1:00

We will be protesting Thor Equities' proposal to build condos in the Amusement District in Coney Island. This fabulous event will be hosted by some of New York's most colorful burlesque performers and speakers from the community!! In addition saving our beloved Coney Island, it is going to be loads of fun!!

Face Paint!!
Aquatic Spectacles!!
Mermaids and more!!

The true spirit of Coney Island, in all of it's splendor, will rock City Hall !! Please let us know if you would like to perform at the event, help us to publicize it or attend.

More details and a full line up of speaker and performers to come very soon!

Save Coney Island !

CIUSA bulletin board discussion

show your support by signing the online petition

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The 'Mix-Use' of Rides and Condos

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.

Sarah Ryley of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports:
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.

One of the reasons the Alberts of Astroland were forced to sell was because they worried they would take a heavy blow in the next couple of years with a drop in attendance due to big construction going on at either sides of their park. They also had tried to work out with the city a plan to move a dozen rides from Astroland, which is about half of all their rides to W.10th street - and even offered the city to pay the quarter of a million dollars to move the AstroTower. All this while construction were to be taking place. But the city did not find it feasible nor timely possible.

The article goes on to state:
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.”

Ryley also elaborates on the disclosure of Lola Staar's Dianna Carlin as the originator of the newly emerged group "Save Coney Island"

In a limited way, her newly formed group is Coney Island’s version of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the more established group that has recently offered Carlin its expertise from years of fighting the approved Atlantic Yards project.

Horace Bullard who some blame for Coney being undeveloped for so long, since he has been sitting on his parcels of land and letting them rot, has in the past, displayed a huge interest in amusements. However, he does feel that amusements alone can not be feasible for the large area of land that Thor has purchased.

“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.
Regardless of who is for what, Lynn Kelly, president of the CIDC said she’s worried that the slew of bad press Coney's been getting will lead people to think that it’s just not worth coming there.

Charles Denson said, “This is the greatest danger that Coney has ever been in. To have one owner [in the amusement district] is the worst possible scenario. It could be the end of everything.”

Can Condos and Rides Coexist? by Sarah Ryley [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]
The full article can be viewed at the
CIUSA bulletin board (posted with permission)

Coney HOOPLA !

TV's CSI New York filming on the Coney streets (W. 10th & Stillwell) Wednesdsay


Brooklyn Back in the Day: Coney Island [Gowanus Lounge]
Extra, extra [Gothamist]
Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk [Big Map]
Brooklyn Back in the Day: Coney Island [Gowanus Lounge]
Coney [Englishman in New York]

(2 Julias) in Coney Island [YouTube]
"Cleaning Up Coney Island" [YouTube] via Gowanus Lounge

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

City Again Calling For Coney Beach Attractions

Image by daltonrooney (

The city's Park Department is trying again this year to lure contractors to operate a few typical beach sports and attractions. They are not quite sure why they did not get responses to their bid requests last year for action-packed water sports attractions like the 'banana boats' rides or parasailing. This time around the agency is hoping for rock-climbing walls, rappelling walls, trampolines, ropes courses and trapeze, according to the recent request for bids released.

As the NY Daily News reported:

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 to
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."
While 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.

Parks set on Coney ad-venture [NY Daily News]