What is Going On in Coney Island???
If you were confused by the events, statement and announcements in Coney Island this week, join the club. The Coney Island redevelopment has never been a straightforward process, but this weeks seemed to set new levels for obfuscation, tactical shifts and overall confusion.
What is clear is that major behind-the-scenes negotiations are going on and that significant press attention will be focused on Coney in coming weeks courtesy of the Mermaid Parade on Saturday and the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on July4. That, in part, could explain the charm offensive on the part of Thor Equities, which has floated several stories in the press and even included bloggers on their distribution list for the first time. It would also explain why the developer would want to make concessions--or appear to be seen in the press as making them--and release some new drawings. In development negotiations, especially high-profile ones with a public side, it's sometimes all about gaining the upper hand via perception. Frankly, most people aren't following this story closely enough to understand that a plan with three hotels and time shares isn't radically different from the plan with with condos that has generated opposition locally. The average person will see the headline that says "Thor Drops Condos" and say, "That's great" and move on.
Likewise, if there's a story in the press that Astroland is being saved for another year many people won't notice the follow ups, like the ones today, that point out that the one-year extension was apparently offered contingent upon zoning concessions.
We think it's safe to say that in a week when Thor executives have met with Borough President Marty Markowitz, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, City Council Member Dominic Recchia, and who knows how many other planning and economic development officials, that the outlines of a deal--or, at least, an understanding--are being cut. We also think it's a good bet that the developer has been bending over backwards to try to win over or, at least, confuse some opponents, in the hope of avoiding photo ops of mermaids and protesters holding up "Save Coney Island" and "Sitt Sucks" signs.
In the real estate development game, it's not just all about location, location and location. Sometimes, it's about timing too.
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