Saturday, June 09, 2007

Is Astroland Really Toast: Perhaps. Perhaps Not.


Ever since Astroland owner Carol Albert sold her amusement park to developer Joe Sitt, she has been voicing regrets. She suggested that the city's plans to make Coney a year-round destination made it impossible to continue in business and led her to sell. She said that she was talking with Mr. Sitt about the possibility of staying open another year. She voiced skepticism about the developers plans for Coney Island. She put Astroland's rides up for sale on an online auction site, then said they were no longer on sale (they're still up online) because she was hoping to cut a deal with the city for a new site. Neil deMause in the Village Voice blog Runnin' Scared fills in with some detail gleaned from that Municipal Art Society forum the other night:
Unfortunately, [Coney Island Development Corp. President Lynn] Kelly's deliberate timetable may mean it will be the last summer for Astroland, which is being evicted by Thor from its home of 45 years at year's end. Though owner Carol Hill Albert has been looking for a new site somewhere between the Cyclone and Keyspan Park - the area the CIDC has staked out for traditional amusements - she says that despite reports to the contrary, she's not close to consummating any deals.

The holdup, she agrees, is less lack of vacant land - Coney Island is swimming in that - than the fact that the current private landholders don't want to make any moves until they see the new zoning regs. "We can only wait so long before we have to decide to sell these rides, and we've already waited a long time," she told the Voice earlier this week. "So we're hoping that something can be worked out. That's all we have is a little ray of hope here."

Asked specifically about the future of Astroland last night, Kelly didn't open Albert's hope window much wider. "The reality is that there's not a lot of land that the city owns in the amusement district," Kelly said, and though the city does own several dead-end streets that conceivably could have rides set up on them, city procurement regulations make that difficult. "We're talking about it with her. We're going to try to find a solution. I can't say we're definitely going to have one."
We do not read them as hopeful words.



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