Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Coney Island Issue Reaching Critical Mass?

We don't know the extent to which developer Joe Sitt and Thor Equities were hoping for a smooth approval of their $2 billion Coney Island redevelopment scheme--or at least of the necessary zoning changes--but it doesn't seem to be the route which the project will take. Coverage of the project--driven by online sources--has been thorough for some time. In the meantime, the developer seems to have been following a strategy of leaking renderings and some stories to print media outlets. Interviews criticizing the city for moving slowly on rezoning have followed. The most recent curious example was the story that appeared in the New York Observer last week in which Planning Director Amanda Burden seemed to have been ranked among "folks at the junior-most levels of government." The approach would seem to be in marked contrast to that used by developer Bruce Ratner in signing on key public officials and community groups as allies in the process of getting Atlantic Yards approved. (At least, we don't recall any instances of Mr. Ratner calling Empire State Development Corp. Chair Charles Gargano, for example, a bureaucratic stooge. Then again, he didn't have to, as Mr. Gargano never uttered any public doubts about Atlantic Yards.)

We digress, however. Our point is simply to say that opposition seems to be galvanizing. Case in point is "Save Coney Island," a new group that is taking shape to oppose Mr. Sitt's vision of housing in Coney Island's amusement zone. It's planning a theatrical "No Condos in Coney" protest outside Thor headquarters that should draw plenty of cameras. We hear the protest could take place within a few weeks.

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5 Comments:

Blogger no_slappz said...

Save Coney Island?

How is maintaining the seedy dump stretching along Surf Avenue from the Aquarium to Keyspan Park an act of salvation?

6:22 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Hey, no_slappz? How much is Thor paying you?

It's bad enough we lost the Atlantic Yards battle - all the more reason we should keep Coney preserved as is.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Jeanne said...

It never ceases to amaze me how some people seem to think there are only two alternatives where Coney Island is concerned: either let Joe Sitt build conods or leave it as a "seedy dump." I firmly believe there is middle ground, and I think the strategic plan of the Coney Island Development Corporation does a nice job of straddling the two extremes. We can spruce up Coney (and tone down the "seedy dump" aspects) without losing all the nice aspects that we love about it. I can't speak for everyone, but my major objection to Thor's plans is that I fear they will lead to a total homogenization of the neighborhood's cultural landscape. Coney has always been a place for the entrepreneur, and it's always been eclectic. We can improve the neighborhood without losing that!!!

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sharon,

How much is Ratner paying you?

We haven't lost Atlantic Yards...check out the eminent domain lawsuits:

http://www.dddb.net/php/reading/legal/eminentdomain/index.php

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all comes down to this:

No Inappropriate Development in the Amusement Zone.

There is PLENTY of beachfront land right alongside Coney's inner amusement zone that could be residentially developed - it is completely unnecessary for Thor Equities to even consider building condos and retail centers in the small footprint of the amusement area. The best of all worlds would be to preserve the amusement zone, and develop appropriately therein (new rides, preservation of the older, as well) - keep any residential/retail outside of those borders.

12:34 PM  

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