Friday, August 04, 2006

New Coney Island Plans: Turning Down the "Glam Rock" and Pumping Up the Elevator Music

Stillwell-lg
Okay, here it is. What you see above (and below) are recent "conceptual" drawings of the New Coney Island AKA Thor Equities' $1 billion, 10-acre Coney Island redevelopment project.

This Times Square-by-the-Sea theme shopping mall is descendent of last year's seriously Glam-Rock and overblown Coney makeover. The creator of this vision is Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, which is working for Thor. The current concept "fits into" the Coney Island Development Corporation's Master Plan in the words of the firm's website.

Do you get a vague, unsettling deja vu feeling when you look at the drawing above and the ones below? That could be because EE&K is designing the MGM Mirage Project in Las Vegas and also did master plans for Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn, for Battery Park City and for the ongoing Asbury Park boardwalk redevelopment in New Jersey.

A lot of words come to mind to describe all of this and, unfortunately, none of them are good. Instead of offering an exicting vision worthy of Coney Island's storied past, this glimpse of the plans reveals a pedestrian, cookie-cutter kind of future that springs from an idea of what faux funky resorts are supposed to be. It offers offers little more than window dressing to disguise what is otherwise a shopping mall with some highrises. Steeplechase or Luna Park, it ain't.

Aerial-View-lg with Words

In this revealing drawing, the most dramatic features are the boardwalk highrises, one of which is easily 30-stories tall. (How about a Coney height limit of, say, nothing taller than the Parachute Jump?) The s-shaped building will be a hotel and the mega-tall one and its tall companion will be luxury condos. Also of note: There is a big ferris wheel on a new pier built out into the water. The Wonder Wheel itself is barely visible in these drawings, which means the additions would be of massive scale. (The Astro Tower also looks like a tiny twig.) Also note the indoor water park, which is to the left of the tall building on the left.

Site-Plan-lg

This gives a sense of the location of the Thor development vis a vis the existing amusements, Keyspan Park and the Parachute Jump.

Stillwell-lg

This is a "Stillwell Walk" by night shot. We wouldn't argue that Stillwell between Surf and the Boardwalk is an uplifting place as it currently stands. On the other hand, we're not sure this is the solution, either. Note the movie theater and overall shopping mall vibe.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Ando said...

Perhaps these developers should be reminded that people go to the shore for sunlight and open space.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Eugene said...

As a resident of Coney Island I am excited by this latest news. Coney Island's amusement district in the winter time is dangerous, as it is used by drug dealers. This problem would be fixed by a year round entertainment complex. I think its funny that almost all the people critical of this development do not live in the area. They visit once every few years and revel in the cheap amusement rides of Astroland that are approximately 30 years old. Astroland is not what Coney Island was, far from it. Additionally according the site plans, the majority of Astroland is preserved with development occurring in what was a batting cage, a go-cart track, mini-golf area and a school bus storage lot(none of these lots had any historical significance). Beyond that, the area surrounding the Boardwalk has many buildings up to 30 stories in height, so I do not think the few remaining original attractions will be dwarfed anymore by these hotels then they are dwarfed by the housing projects. Overall realize that this will better the neighborhood and the city and it is selfish to critique development in a neighborhood you barely visit just because when you visited before it looked "run down" and you believed that was its character. The original Coney Island was a major attraction because it was revolutionary, whatever this development is replacing is far from that.

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eugene said...
I could not say it better.

I am a local resident myself in Coney Island and I am very eager to see a new development for brighter, better and safer future that lays ahead of us. Coney Island must have new, bigger and better attractions with accommodate with Five Star Hotels and with Five Star restaurants. Year round day and night time entertainment with live music.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eugene said...


I could not say it better.

I am a local resident myself in Coney Island and I am very eager to see a new development for brighter, better and safer future that lays ahead of us. Coney Island must have new, bigger and better attractions with accommodate with Five Star Hotels and with Five Star restaurants. Year round day and night time entertainment with live music.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with eugene, the plan for coney island seems like a good one with good intent. with year round amusement and resort accommodations the economy will undoubtedly boost and the neighborhoods would be safer. this is a positive change and facelift for a rundown community that used to be the nations play ground. its about time that it restores that name. and ando maybe you should know a little bit about the orientation of the sun before you comment seeing that the beaches are all located on the southern side of the island, which would constantly hit by the sun, and its on the ocean how much more open space do you need.

8:34 PM  

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