Friday, November 21, 2008

Can The City Afford To Buy Coney?

As they have from the beginning, The Brooklyn Paper has, for the most part, been Pro-Thor on the Coney Island saga. This week they are peeved about the City's efforts to buy him out. They, or shall we say; the writer of the article, which is nameless, and is usual with many Brooklyn Paper stories, in the Brooklyn Paper asks:

But in a time when subway lines are being slashed, a fare hike is pending and the state is planning to raise funds with dubious East River bridge tolls, we asks again: why would the city spend close to $200 million to buy Sitt's land when Sitt's basic plan for Coney Island is so similar to what the city says it wants?

City officials say that buying out Sit is the only way to give the Bloomberg Administration what it needs to save Coney Island, Namely control of the land itself.

But that is a myth: The city already has control of the land that Sitt owns because that land is currently zoned only for amusement-related uses.

In other words, no mater how much land he owns, Sitt can't do anything except build an amusement park without a zoning change.

So the city doesn't need to buy out Sitt- it just needs to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to whatever elements of his plan would veer from existing amusement zoning.

What the paper doesn't want to acknowledge is that leaving the land in Sitt's hand and only using zoning as its protection would prolong the withered state Coney Island is still in. The chicken game will go on and Thor would be patient enough to wait until the Bloomberg extended stay is over and while the economic crisis repairs a bit.

However, are Joe Sitt's plans the same as the City's? One thing is certain that is similar in both plans. And that is the negative possibility. Having most of Coney Island owned by one entity is fine but having one operator run the whole amusement area is not. Leaving the success of the entire area on in the hands of operator could lead us back to the start point if they fail.

Image courtesy of Julie Rosenberg for the Brooklyn Paper

More Coney Baloney [The Brooklyn Paper]

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