Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Coney #2: ‘We Have Not Compromised…Our Original Goals’

May 8th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Revised Coney Plan
While the overall plan to rezone Coney Island covers a significant portion of the areas closest to the water and would lead to massive changes in what could be built, the heart of the dispute is about 15 acres of land in ts amusement district. The original city plan proposed rezoning 15 acres as parkland and turning it into an amusement park. Much of the land is owned by developer Joe Sitt. The revised proposal reduces the “parkland” to nine acres, allowing Mr. Sitt and other to retain and privately develop more property. This, in turn, has led to bitter opposition from some enthusiastic supporters of the November plan. They now accuse the city of watering down the proposal and paving the way for the mallification of Coney Island under the guise of “entertainment uses” for property. City officials flatly reject the suggestion and say they are still doubling the land dedicated to an amusement park while developing a compromise plan that has a chance of being enacted. One city official has called the zoning changes “an insurance policy” against unwanted development in the future.

We have not compromised any of our original goals,” Coney Island Development Corp. President Lynn Kelly told GL yesterday. “We’ve improved on what we had and what’s there now. Now, we have a plan that we know can happen.” Ms. Kelly said the city has no intention of allowing mall-like retailing in the area known to planners as Coney East, which would include 600,000 square feet of “entertainment retail” and no space for what is called “general” retail. “The city under no circumstances wants a Kings Plaza in the amusement district on Coney Island East,” she said. “There is no mall in the city’s plan.”

While zoning would specify the kind of retailing that would be allowed in the zone–and entertainment uses would include movie theaters, bowling alley, bars and restaurant–the exact type of retail that would be allowed under the plan is unclear. “General retail” such as chain drugstores would be prohibited. Buildings on land that has been subtracted from the original amusement park area would be 4-6 stories in height. Taller buildings–as envisioned in the original November proposal–would be allowed along Surf Avenue. Street frontage would be 4-6 stories, but the buildings could be as tall 270 feet, or nearly 30 stories, which is the height of the Parachute Jump. Officials say the iconic Coney structure will be respected as a height limit. In addition, the plan would take steps to ensure that “hotels” would be actual hotels and not time shares or condo hotels. Rooms would be limited in square footage to hotel room standards, disallowing large apartment-sized rooms that would be used as time shares. (Two of the hotel designations on Surf Ave. at W. 15th Street and an unnamed new street were in the original plan released last year. Two more, at Stillwell Avenue and W. 12 Street appear to have been added to the new plan.)

The plan “prohibits time shares, malls and expands the amusement area,” Ms. Kelly said. “The community shouldn’t lose sight of that.”

Can the political and other intricacies of passing a rezoning be resolved before the clock runs out on the Bloomberg Administration? Officials are still hopeful and expect the plan could be ready for the land use review process by the end of the summer. “We’re all cognizant of the ticking clock,” an official said, “but I’m optimistic.”

Tags: coney island

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 J // May 8, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Lynn Kelly must really think we are stupid. There is no way that the new plan is not a compromise. I’ll go further and say it is a complete surrender. The CIDC claimed their main goal was to preserve the amusement area. Aside from the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone which are already landmarked and by law must be preserved the new plan preserves nothing else. The original trade off was to rezone half the amusement area, that is everything West of Keyspan Park and everything on the Northern side of Surf Avenue, for residential to keep people like Sitt out of the core amusement area. The city even removed the B&B Carousel from it’s original home as part of this original compromise and eve put it’s own property, the Keyspan lot and Abe Stark Rink, up for sale. The city went from that to allowing development in the amusement zone cutting the core down to 15 acres and now we are down to a 9 acre amusement area?

    Lets look at that 9 acres. Not only is 9 acres enough left to interest Disney or Tivoli at all, but is not even usable land. About an acre is the buildings along the boardwalk which are bars and restaurants/snack bars. One entire acre is going to be West 10th Street. Another acre and a half will go to West 12th, West 15th, West 16th, and Stillwell Avenue. These will not be removed even if the land under them is designated park land. The ice skating rink that the mayor wants to build in front of the Wonder Wheel will be another acre and a half. That is at leas five acres that can not be used for amusements off the top. So we are really talking about four acres of surviving amusement zone. Furthermore the city also wants their amusement zone used for sit down restaurants, bowling alley’s, and movie theaters.

    In trade of this the city will agree to take with eminent domain property from Bullard, Vourderis, El Dorado, the Bowery arcades, the 12th Street amusements and turn it over to Sitt. So Astroland is gone, 12th Street is gone, all the arcades are gone, Deno’s is gone, El Dorado is gone. This is a near complete wipe out of the entire amusement area and a conversion to what the city promised all along would not be there, a mall with condos. Like I said, the only survivors will be the two landmark rides that can not be removed.

    The city is trying to save face by claiming the mall will have “entertainment retail”. Entertainment retail is basically any store or restaurant that attracts mostly teenagers. Sneaker stores and record shops fall into this category. Sitt claims that the definition should also include book stores and other retail. Since entertainment retail is a BS definition made up by politicians then just about anything can claim it is entertainment retail. The city is also in it’s denial phase where they are claiming that Sitt’s master plan is what they wanted all along. Lets forget that just a couple of months ago Sitt’s plans called for destroying less of the amusement area and the city called it inappropriate and dead in the water. So now that Sitt has removed the proposed Astroland replacement amusement park from his renderings and is only bringing in retail, Hotels, and residential zoning that will ultimately lead to condos, we are suppose to believe that this is no worse a plan as the one the city was against last summer? Next comes the embracement phase where the mayor will claim that Sitt’s plans are the greatest thing to happen to Coney Island and he, Kelly, and Markowitz will all be in full support despite everything they promised last year.

  • 2 Coney Island Amusement Advocates Rally for More Acreage for Outdoor Rides « Amusing the Zillion // Jun 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    […] I don’t get is why doesn’t the City just go back to their original plan? This so-called “compromise plan” of reducing the proposed new amusement park from 15 acres to 9 acres has utterly failed in its […]