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.
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