Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Coney Island Tactic: Reshuffling the Deck

Coney Scale O Matic Final

Apparently, would-be Coney Island developer Thor Equities is trying a slight strategy shift in Coney Island. (No public name calling has been reported this week, although late last week a Thor spokesperson seemed to publicly insult community businesses by saying the firm wasn't concerned with "tenants of the past.") The New York Post reports that the developer "is desperately trying to convince City Hall to back it by shifting more than 900 planned luxury condo units away from the boardwalk and into one 40-story tower." The latest version of developer Joe Sitt's proposal would move the controversial condos to the west side of Stillwell Avenue a little--but, not much--closer to Surf Avenue.

The suggestions were made as part of presentation to the community by Thor this week. One of the boardwalk towers would be reduced somewhat so it's closer in height to the Parachute Jump. According to the Post, "the revisions would allow riders of the nearby Cyclone roller coaster to retain Parachute Jump views." No word on whether any of this would allow people on the ground to see the Parachute Jump except through special "corridors" in which the view would be preserved. The somewhat less tall boardwalk highrise would be relatively close to the iconic structure that many call Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower.

GL sees the seeds of a shifting plan in all of this. We've suspected for a long time that the residential component of the plan would be shifted west of Stillwell Avenue. These parcels, however, are still in the amusement zone and would require rezoning for housing that many people strongly oppose both as a shrinkage of the traditional Coney Island amusement area and as an incompatible use between loud amusements and crowds and residences. (One also senses the late-blooming seeds of a Ratnerian strategy to try to build community support--we've heard about a very interesting strategy involving housing--but haven't been able to confirm it. There would appear to be a number of contingency plans to shift the game pieces around the board and to make it seem like scale and density are being reduced.)

To give a sense of the scale that is still involved here, we've revived our Coney Island Scale-O-Matic graphic, above.

Related Post:
Sitt Frustrated With Opposition to Coney Plan
Coney Island Deathwatch: Lola Star Moves Out

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