Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mr. Sitt's Bulldozers Come to Coney Island


Check out Neal deMause's great rundown of the state of things in Coney Island in the new Village Voice (and we're not just saying this because one of our Coney pics, above, is used with the story). Mr. deMause manages an excellent sketch of a complicated issue. Here's a sample, which get to the core of the concerns of many people:
But what's at stake is far more than a view of the Parachute Jump unobstructed by balconied towers. While Thor denies it, denizens of the amusement district fear the developer is preparing to raze and leave fallow as much as two-thirds of Coney's amusement district. The idea would be to hold the heart of Coney Island hostage to force the city to rezone and let Thor cash in on condos.

If Sitt follows through with stated threats to wait for a new mayoral administration in 2010, Coney Island's already diminished amusement district could spend years as a torn-up wasteland, leaving only the Cyclone, Dino's Wonder Wheel Park, Sideshows by the Seashore, and Nathan's standing amid a vast empty plain...

Meanwhile, the biggest game being played on Coney Island is the game of chicken between Sitt and the city. Privately, many Coney Islanders say that if Bloomberg really wants to call Sitt's bluff, he'll threaten to swoop in and seize any vacant land by eminent domain. But no one thinks that's likely. More realistically, the best-case scenario is that once the city starts the rezoning process in June, Sitt will realize his condo dream is a non-starter and either quickly agree to build something that fits the CIDC's vision or sell to someone who does. In the worst, the stalemate drags on for years, with Sitt shuttering every building he owns—or flipping the land to another developer who likewise sits on the property while deciding how to develop it.

There's a tremendous amount of background on the history of the current plans and on Mr. Sitt, so it's a definite must read for anyone intrested in Coney Island.



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