Monday, August 06, 2007

Latest Coney Twist: Thor Plan May Be "Dead in the Water"

Astroland from Wonder Wheel

Talk about sending messages through the press. Yesterday, Jotham Sederstrom scored the Brooklyn scoop of the month so far, writing a story in the Daily News quoting "a high-ranking city official" saying that developer Joe Sitt's ambitious Coney Island redevelopment is "dead in the water," among other things. It would seem that such a "high-ranking official" is either New York City Economic Development Corp. director Robert Lieber (who has made some fairly pointed remarks about the plan in the past) or Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff himself (which would truly be the kiss of death). At issue are the usual problems: (A). Thor's plans for hundreds of time shares (which appear to be seen as the wolf of apartments wearing the sheep's cloting. (B). The developer's political and PR strategy, which have managed to alienate just about every key player in the Coney Island process. (C). The need for a $100 million subsidy and (D). Fears that Mr. Sitt will flip the property after the zoning is changed. Here is a sample of the story:
A developer's $1.5 billion fantasy plan to turn Coney Island into a glitzy seaside resort is "dead in the water," a high-ranking city official told the Daily News.

It's the harshest denunciation yet by the Bloomberg administration - and could signal the beginning of the end for Thor Equities' ambitious proposals. The city has never been thrilled with Thor's Las Vegas-style vision for the amusement mecca and the gritty neighborhood that abuts it.

Officials are steaming over the developer's plan for 350 time-shares at the envisioned hotels. The developer came up with the time-share scheme after it vowed to cut a luxury residential component from the blueprint.

Thor's push for $100 million in city subsidies - and fears that the developer might just turn around and sell the property once the zoning is changed - also irked City Hall. "It was clearly designed merely to try to get a lucrative zoning change and massive city funding without genuine regard to Coney Island's future," the city official said. "It's atrocious."

The official said Thor must toss its current plan and come up with a more acceptable plan before the city will even meet with the developer. "Thor's proposal is dead in the water," the official said.
This war has been fought very publicly before, so we don't expect that this is the last chapter in any way, shape or form. We expect that the next step will be another public proclamation by the developer that he will leave Coney Island without full public support (with the sub-text being that he will leave Coney Island in ruins.) The real problem, of course, would that if Mr. Sitt's plan is indeed "dead in the water" it presents a real problem for Coney Island, given the vast amount of prime land that he now owns and his willingness to start bulldozing as a negotiating tactic.

One senses that the real victim of all this will be poor, poor Coney Island.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your analysis is bang-on, as usual. On one hand, I'm heartened to hear that city officials might actually be willing to call Joe Sitt on his "bullsitt," but on the other, I share your concern that the ultimate victim in this scenario could be the neighborhood we all love so much.

11:52 PM  

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