Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Same Time Last Year

Image courtesy of Barry Yanowitz (

Here we go again! The time has come to repeat itself in the last throws of Astroland's possible demise or possible extended lease in life. Though, currently Astroland's lease runs through January 31st and the last day scheduled is Sunday, September 7th. Carol Albert, owner and operator of the park threatens to close as early as the 4th of September if they do not receive a year or two lease extension by then. Same questions raised last year that were answered at the eleventh hour - Albert either selling the rides or keeping them - loom over the park's fate this week. One question is: why is Thor Equities holding out on negotiations with Albert on weather or not to extent their lease? By a letter Albert sent to Thor's lawyers about her ultimatum it seems Thor's ultimatum is disguised in their silence. Stefan Friedman's latest comment was reported by New York Post reporter Richard Calder who Friedman usually releases comments to.

The New York Post reported:

"We are extremely disappointed that Carol Albert has decided to give up on the future of Coney Island when her current lease isn't even up for a number of months, said Sitt spokesman Stefan Friedman," adding Astroland would be replaced next summer by new "amusements, games, shopping and entertainment galore."

A comment that some feel is a way for Albert to look like the one who gave up on Coney Island.

Best put is the Gowanus Lounge analysis which recognizes the urgency for the two parties to come to a decision quickly in order to sustain Coney businesses for next year's season until any kind of development could begin, which at its earliest would be in two years.

Gowanus Lounge writes:

We could go on and on about the Astroland topic, but will simply say this: it behooves Mr. Sitt, the city and Ms. Albert to come to a quick agreement about the future of the Astroland property. It is highly unlikely that, even if a rezoning passes quickly, work could begin before 2010 and it would be a travesty to leave the fate of the property up to vague promises or to allow an onslaught of premature demolition.

What is perhaps most troubling is that the city really has no interim strategy for Coney Island to bridge the gap between the passage of a rezoning and the start of any new construction. Given the current economic climate, there are real doubts as to what can and will be financed in Coney Island. Could the three hotels Mr. Sitt says he wants to build get financing in a marginal part of what is going to be an overbuilt market? Can thousands of units of condos be financed in a softening (some would say crashing) Brooklyn market? Would a big amusement park be bankrolled if the market deteriorates further? If you answer “yes” to these questions you are truly an optimist. We’re thinking the best answer is the distant possibility of a “maybe.”

We hate to be the skunk that wanders through the Coney Island Redevelopment Beach Bash, but there is a very real possibility that if the city doesn’t take concrete steps to avoid closures and demolitions, the short-term Future of Coney Island could be that of the world’s biggest school bus parking lot, cleared for a few weeks between Memorial Day and July 4 for temporary carnival rides. For those who think that Coney has nowhere to go but up, think again.

If the feel in the air is correct - Thor Equities would rather have Astroland gone and empty so they could bring in their 'galore' of entertainment the way they envision it: "Summer of More Hope". And in the process look like the good guys who came in and saved Coney Island from darkness. However, all this speculation could change if there are negotiations currently underway that are yet to be announced.

Is the ride at Coney Island really over this time? [AP /]
Astroland Faces The End [New York Post]
GL Analysis: It’s Astroland Deathwatch Week [Gowanus Lounge]

1 comment:

Eft said...

So is there anything to do right now?