Friday, December 01, 2006

Thor Want Condo!!!

The unspoken part to the Thor Equities plan for a "historic expansion of the Coney Island amusement area" is that (a). your definition of "amusement area" and Thor's definition of it may be radically different and (b). even if they are the same, the developer is going to have to build condos--a lot of condos--to make the project viable.

Exactly what might they have in mind? The rendering here is one that was dismissed by the developer as having been made public by mistake, but a thumbnail of it was included in Thor's own Thor Urban Property Fund document labled as "Coney Island Boardwalk." (We are unclear of the date, but it may have been emailed to potential investors as recently as last month. Clearly, money people are more interested in outlines of highrises than renderings with women with pumpkin graphics on their bikini bottoms.) There are, if we count correctly, four highrises visible in the drawing. The plan, generally speaking, include four highrises, one of them up to 40 stories tall. There would be a hotel and condos, and even the developer acknowledges that the condos would create the financing for the amusements.

In the end, the discussion about Coney's future--if there is a public dialogue as opposed to a marketing campaign and decisions made with no meaningful community input--will not be about whether to redevelop Coney Island. It will be about whether to preserve bona fide amusements in Coney Island and whether to allow zoning changes that would lead to elimination of amusements and the rise of luxury condos and hotels.

Coney's glorious past is long, long gone. The issue is whether the future is about hotels and condos and Times Square-style retailing (think Nathan's in a food court with pictures of the old Coney) or whether the New Coney will have a significant place for good old fashioned boardwalk amusements.

It's not that making Coney "nice" is a bad thing. Nice is good. The real question is whether you want Condo Nice or Amusement Nice.

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