Monday, June 18, 2007

New Thor Drawings "Condos Out - Hotels & Time Shares In"

(click image to enlarge)

Joseph Sitt said he had “rolled over” in response to the huge opposition of the plans and designs that were released by his company Thor Equities in the past, according to today’s
New York Times article.

This past Thursday it was inconspicuously mentioned, in a recent
Time Magazine article, that Sitt was considering rethinking their plans without the residential component. Prompting a quote from Charles Denson, executive director of the Coney Island History Project. "Joe Sitt can still be a hero. He could go down in history as someone who saved Coney Island.", said Denson.

Yesterday the
Marino Organization sent out a select handful of e-mails announcing that Thor was doing away with their residential components. Which was lifting news.

But, today, coming somewhat back down to reality - in their article The New York Times prints a new rendering by
ThinkWell Design & Production which looks very much like the drawings ThinkWell conceived the last time. For one thing - fortunately, this time the buildings aren’t ghostly figures of high rises. And though they are supposed to be hotels and time-shares this time around – they unfortunately look like Donald Trump style boxes with windows. This is definitely not in keeping with the CIDS’s strategic plans, which Lynn Kelly, said a couple of weeks ago at the Municipal Arts Society panel discussion, would have to be within the Coney Island character.

Charles V. Bagli of the The New Times reports:

The new proposal is less dense, he [Sitt] said, but has more of "the new, the edgy, and the outlandish" rides and attractions that America's first resort was once known for.

"This is our way of showing the New York community that we're responsive to what they want," said Sitt, the founder and chief executive of Thor Equities.

The new plan keeps the concept of a new glass-enclosed water park, but instead of apartments call for three hotels, including more than 400 time-share units, along with restaurants, shops, movie theaters and high-tech arcades. The latest renderings depict a pulsating entertainment complex with an Elephant Colossus statue and architecture that evokes the old Luna Park and Dreamland amusement parks.

The plan has been already criticized, calling the time-shares looking an awful lot like apartments and that the complex looks more like a mall than Coney Island.

Robert Lieber, president of the city's Economic Development Corporation, who criticized the plan said it had essentially the same density but dressed up with these hotels and time shares. He also said, "the building heights still exceed the 271-foot Parachute Jump. And he's [Sitt] looking for a huge subsidy from the city, of more than $100 million.

Mr. Sitt's retort to the city is that he believes the changes being proposed are too restrictive and would undercut his ability to redevelop the area.

(click image to enlarge)

But now new questions surface. Why time-shares? Isn’t that similar to condos. They’re still residential. And if you are still shrinking the amusement zone in the footprint to allow for these buildings then why have the hotels in the first place? Let alone three? By the drawings one can guess that guests can cover the amusements in one day. And another day if they want to stay at the beach on another day. At least one hotel may be feasible if any. Which should include a convention center on one of the floors and perhaps a rotating hotel on the top floor. Unless the explain this need, three hotels seem a quite ridiculous.

Let’s hope the good news of ‘no more residential component in Coney Island’s amusement district’ doesn’t turn to be a “wolf dressed up as a sheep” as quoted by Lieber to this new plan.

Taconic Investment Partners will speak for themselves but let’s also hope that Taconic’s building’s don’t look like what’s presenting in this new sketch – which look’s the same as the hotels; Trump-style cookie cutouts. Coney deserves imagination. This is Coney Island not the East Village. And last but definitely not least, the NY Times article stated that not everyone trusts Mr. Sitt to deliver and are concerned with this being a new tactic to influence the change in zoning to their favor only to flip the property. Let's hope Joey Coney is genuine about his love for Coney Island and is still treading the waters to see where it's possible to make a profit while still respecting Coney's historic and future amusements.

Coney I. Plan Is Scaled Back, but Critics Are Skeptical [The New York Times]

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