Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bloomberg, Doctoroff & Burden Drop Coney Island Bomb: Sitt Out of Amusement District


Mayor Bloomberg made his long awaited speech about Coney Island today, unveiling the city's vision of Coney Island zoning. It did not disappoint. The biggest headline is that the city wants to acquire all the land between the Cyclone and KeySpan Park, rezone it as a park and lease the land to an amusement park developer. This means that developer Joe Sitt is likely out of that part of Coney Island, though likely to remain a major player overall in the neighborhood. It also means that the timeframe for redevelopment will be much longer than currently anticipated. In his speech, the Mayor outlined three new zoning areas:

Coney North: Bounded by Stillwell Avenue on the east, West 20th Street on the west and by Mermaid and Surf Avenues on the north and south, this zone would have up to 1,800 units of housing and 100,000 square feet of retail.

Coney West: Between West 19th and W. 24th Street, south of Surf Avenue, including the KeySpan Park parking lot. This would be rezoned for very high density development including 2,700 apartments and 360,000 square feet of retail.

Coney East: Bounded by West 8th Street and West 19th Street, Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk. The city would acquire this land and rezone it as parkland to "preserve the world's most famous urban amusement park in perpetuity."

Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff said that the city would seek out "a dveloper who has real world-class experience in developing a one of a kind" attraction and said that it is very different from "building a shpping center." Both he and the Mayor said that Mr. Sitt and other landowners would either be offered very attractive deals for the land or swaps for land that will be zoned for high-density mixed use development. The Mayor said he didn't envision the use of eminent domain, saying "We think we will not need eminent domain. We think we will be able to structure deals."

The city also looks like it's rejecting the idea of having a number of small operators in the amusement area. The Mayor said the city is "seeking to have one overall expert in managing and running the whole thing" because "you can't have a bunch of little things and have them survive." He said that expected Mr. Sitt would cut a deal with the city rather than engage in a long legal fight. "One assumes that Mr. Sitt is rational and trying to do what's best for his bottom line," the Mayor said. The developer issued a statement saying that he was "disappointed," but saying he was "optimistic" an agreement could be reached. Said Doctoroff: "Sitt will be afforded the opportunity to swap his land for another parcel, or for cash, at a premium. We think it will be very compelling."

Both the Mayor and Mr. Doctoroff said they expected Mr. Sitt "to play a major part" in Coney Island redevelopment, but "not in the amusement area." Ms. Burden added that housing would be situated "away from the noise and lights" of the amusement district and that building height would "respect" Coney landmarks, most significantly the Parachute Jump.

We will have more detail and analysis tomorrow.


2007_11_Coney Photo One



Blogger JakeGould said...

Awesome news! Thor Equities can't take advantage of this city any more. So happy about this!

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't good news in the slightest. They simply will trade one developer for another that is a crony of Doctoroff.

Nearly every Doctoroff plan has been absolutely, incredibly, spectacularly: a huge financial gift to a real estate developer, a giant fuck you to the relevant community, completely uninspiring, catering to a wealthy minority, and so on, and so on.

Doctoroff wouldn't know how to pick a world-class developer for Coney Island if they turned on the lights on the Parachute Jump and stuck it up his tuckus.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AND you can say goodbye to any small merchants, local flavor and tradition. À la the Bronx Terminal Market and the Red Hook ballfields vendors, the first thing Dan Doctoroff does is get rid of small, authentic vendors... and brings in giant monolithic corporations to run things.

What a travesty.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Peregrine said...

You know, we are going to miss our little Mayor when he is gone.

As for the comment "Thor Equities can't take advantage of this city any more." I would say look at the map and the deal as Gowanus has laid it out. Thor is going to have plenty of opportunities in Coney Island and some one will build a hotel right on the boardwalk in what they are referring to as "Coney Island East".
I don’t see that as a bad thing.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am totally for the development of the Atlantic Yards so some might see this as too much development, I do not.
This is just the kind of business and community solution that Bloomberg would engineer. And I, for one, thank him and Doctoroff for stepping in.

6:40 PM  
Blogger JakeGould said...

Okay, let me make this clearer. With Thor out of the amusement zone, that is a great thing. Whatever you think of the city's politics, I'd rather have the same folks who—for better or worse—redid Times Square involved than Thor Equities who does nothing but buy land, make promises, flip property and destroys community.

Yes there are issues to be dealt with for the future of the amusement zone—and the small businesses there—but at least it still is an amusement zone. Which is much more than what it was when Thor hoped for residential rezoning.

Mark my words. Thor will simply flip or sell the land. They've lost. That's good. They've never contributed anything positive to NYC and screwed over small business owners at the Albee Square Mall.

10:29 PM  

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