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  #141  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2009, 10:58 PM
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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,2491606.story

Coney Island's future looks like a tug of war
Preservationists, a developer and the city are at odds over revitalization.


By Tina Susman
July 12, 2009

Ah, summer at Coney Island: Carnies beckoning passersby to try their luck shooting the freak. Wild screams coming from the Cyclone coaster. Elephants taking on humans to see who can eat the most hot dog buns.

But the rollicking, somewhat seedy beachfront park -- which after a rainy June blossomed over the sunny July 4 weekend into its traditional blend of family-friendly fun and boardwalk bawdiness -- also is at the center of an ugly dispute this year among those who agree it needs a face-lift but disagree over how to revive its fortunes.

In one corner is New York City, whose council is to vote late this month on a redevelopment project, boasting restaurants and hotels, that was approved in June by the Planning Commission. In the other are preservationists who say the plan would ruin Coney Island's salty flavor by plunking high rises in its heart. In the middle sits a developer, Joseph Sitt, who has plans of his own and has refused to sell the city the land it needs.

The dispute is an unavoidable topic here along the wooden boardwalk, where squeals of visitors on the amusement park rides compete with music from revelers on the sand.

"The whole idea that Coney Island is dead, that Coney Island is done, is wrong," Stephen Yaros said as three Asian elephants and three people, their stomachs bloated from shoveling buns into their mouths, dawdled behind him.

Yaros is a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, which this summer has brought the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Coney Island for the first time. On July 3, the circus featured what it billed as the world's first cross-species eating contest -- won easily by the elephants, which placidly devoured 505 buns in six minutes to their human competitors' 143.

(Like most things at Coney Island lately, the event was not without controversy. "Barbarians!" bellowed animal rights protesters, although circus officials contended that the buns were well-suited to the pachyderms' vegetarian diets.)

"I think there was a need for this," Yaros said, the collection of colorful circus tents rising behind the sand. Although he said Ringling Bros. played no favorites in the current dispute -- "We want to be Switzerland" -- news of the city's revitalization efforts prompted the decision to plan a 12-week run here.

But the circus did not set up on Sitt's 10.5 acres as originally planned, a fact that has boosted city officials in their battle with the chief executive of Thor Equities development corporation.

Sitt's property once housed Astroland amusement park, whose centerpiece was a 71-foot-long rocket ship designed to thrill riders with a virtual trip into space. But Astroland closed in September after nearly half a century, leaving a desolate swath in the center of Coney Island.

Sitt has vowed to return Astroland to its former glory with amusement park rides, housing, hotels and shops.

For now, however, the weed-filled lots are dominated by tents that on weekends house vendors, hawking $5 bikinis and homemade cupcakes.

Lauren Smith, who grew up near Coney Island, recalled when the amusement area drew crowds year-round to its roller coasters, carousels and oddity shows.

"It's dead now" on weekdays, said Smith, an array of her baked goods for sale on the table in front of her.

Smith said Sitt's flea market, dubbed Flea by the Sea, was drawing crowds. "It does suck that Astroland is gone, but at least they're trying to do something with the community," Smith said.

The city says its Coney Island plan would bring thousands of jobs to the depressed area by turning the beach and boardwalk into a year-round attraction with sit-down restaurants, hotels and other businesses. But Sitt said that if the city wants to build, it has to pay him more than the $105 million it has offered for his land.

Preservationists such as Charles Denson, author of "Coney Island: Lost and Found," say Sitt and the city are more interested in their own financial interests than in helping the community. At the very least, he said, the city should modify its plan by moving the proposed high rises away from Coney Island's heart and devoting more space to amusement park facilities.

But with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg facing reelection this year, Denson is skeptical.

"The good news is that Bloomberg took an interest in Coney Island," he said. "The bad news is that Bloomberg took an interest."
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  #142  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 1:32 PM
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http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categor..._id=5&id=29631

Council Postpones Vote on Coney Island Rezoning Plan

by Linda Collins
07-20-2009

The City Council and its Land Use Committee and Zoning Subcommittee postponed their votes Monday on the Coney Island Redevelopment Plan, reportedly because members did not have all the “necessary details.”

The discussion and votes are now scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 21, at City Hall in Manhattan. According to a source who attended Monday’s meeting, they postponed the vote, “blaming the administration for the delay and for not lining up all the necessary details in time.”

Additionally, Council Member Dominic Recchia called on Deputy Mayor Ronald Lieber to meet later Monday and finalize details before this morning’s vote, according to the source.

“Hopefully the extra day allows the city and council to address the glaring omissions in job and housing guarantees that are essential for revitalizing the community,” said Matt Ryan of New York Jobs With Justice, one of the Coney Island For All Coalition members, in response to the postponement.

The coalition, a labor and community coalition representing some 250,000 New Yorkers, is planning a rally at 10 a.m. prior to the scheduled voting across from City Hall in front of 250 Broadway.

Their goal is to ensure the Coney Island plan creates the good jobs, affordable housing, amusements and infrastructure the community needs.

Other coalition members include ACORN, New York Hotel Trades Council, Pratt Center for Community Development, 32BJ SEIU, RWDSU and UFCW.

It was rumored Monday that the City Council intends to “approve the plan with amendments,” which means it must go back to the City Planning Commission for another review prior to a final City Council vote on July 29.

Tuesday’s vote and recommendations are seen as the City Council’s “last real opportunity to change the plan” before that final City Council vote, several members of the coalition told the Eagle.
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  #143  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 11:29 PM
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I have a very hard time believing this will happen, but good luck!
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  #144  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 3:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerton View Post
I have a very hard time believing this will happen, but good luck!
It will happen, only because it is a city development, of which the private developer is in a losing battle with. In fact, it's already started, with the closing of Astroland last year.
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  #145  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 4:55 PM
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My friend who runs a shop and the roller rink there has been fighting this for a long time. . . it's interesting to follow the news. . . I'm not sure how I feel about the changes but sadly for those who are interested in keeping Coney the rank shithole that it has been of late, they're on the losing side of the battle. . .
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  #146  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2009, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom In Chicago View Post
sadly for those who are interested in keeping Coney the rank shithole that it has been of late, they're on the losing side of the battle. . .
They're up against a tidal wave now...

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...t1OHQD99OBABO2

NYC council votes in favor of Coney Island renewal

By VERENA DOBNIK

Quote:
NEW YORK — The New York City Council has approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to redevelop Coney Island, turning the Brooklyn beachfront area into a year-round entertainment complex.

The council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday in favor of the plan. Coney Island would get a new amusement park, high-rise hotels, restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters and the city's first new roller coaster since 1927.

http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categor..._id=5&id=29950

Coney Coalition Approves Amended Plan

by Linda Collins
08-04-2009

CONEY ISLAND — Following the vote last week by the New York City Council to approve an amended Coney Island Redevelopment Plan, the Coney Island for All Coalition, which had demonstrated against it, reports it supports the amended version and praises the council for its efforts.

“We believe this plan now provides the good jobs and increased affordable housing that will benefit the Coney Island community,” said Matt Ryan of New York Jobs with Justice, one of the coalition’s members. “The struggle over Coney Island’s future underscores the need for a city-wide responsible development policy that follows the basic principal that development must deliver good jobs, truly affordable housing and respond to community needs.”

The coalition — which also includes ACORN, SEIU 32BJ, RWDSU, the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, UFCW Local 1500 and the Pratt Center for Community Development — praised the efforts of the city council, particularly its plan to secure more affordable housing and secure more jobs for residents.

Coney Island has been losing affordable housing at an alarming rate, but the city’s original plan only provided for 20 percent affordable housing, or 900 new affordable units to be built. The amended plan provides close to 35 percent affordable housing, income-tiered for deeper levels of affordability for local families who earn approximately half of the city-wide median income.

Additionally, the city estimates the redevelopment project will create as many as 25,000 construction jobs, and 6,000 permanent jobs at the amusements, hotels, retail and residential buildings.

“With the support of the City Council, a labor-community alliance secured good jobs and affordable housing for Coney Island,” said Mike Fishman, 32BJ president. “While the needs of working New Yorkers are often overlooked, the coalition made sure that the entire Coney Island community would benefit from redevelopment.”

Added Peter Ward, president of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, “The Coney Island development plan will create unprecedented opportunities for the people who live and work in the community. We support a new Coney Island that includes affordable housing and good jobs where New Yorkers are given a voice in the workplace and are treated with respect and dignity.”

ACORN leader Carmen Gonzalez said of the revised plan, “We welcome the prospect of development and neighborhood revitalization that could ensure that our families will have a place to live and work in the new Coney Island with close to 35 percent affordable housing.”

The city’s amended plan also includes much-needed improvements to sewer and drainage infrastructure, which had been a major complaint for residents near the shore who experience frequent flooding and brownouts, and it incorporates important neighborhood amenities, including improvements to the hospital and public school, according to the coalition.
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  #147  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2009, 4:40 PM
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^Yeah. . . I hear it all day long on her Facebook posts. . .

. . .
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  #148  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 5:19 AM
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/ny...l?ref=nyregion

Aquarium to Renovate With Giant Shark Tanks



By CHARLES V. BAGLI
September 16, 2009


The New York Aquarium is moving ahead with a $100 million plan to renovate its building in Coney Island and create two massive tanks for more than 30 sharks — about four times as many as now ply the aquarium’s waters.

The aquarium’s ambitious plan comes even as the Bloomberg administration remains locked in tense negotiations with a major landowner over the city’s long-awaited proposal to revitalize the Coney Island amusement district to the west and its surrounding neighborhood.

Under the aquarium’s plan, the sharks, whose streamlined forms simultaneously scare and fascinate visitors, will have a lot more room to move. The aquarium’s single 90,000-gallon tank — where eight tiger, nurse and reef sharks now make their home — is to be replaced by two glass-walled tanks with a total capacity of 600,000 gallons. There will also be a variety of other new exhibits and a new building that connects to both the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue.

“I’d like to bring in one million visitors a year,” said Steve Sanderson, chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the nonprofit group that runs the aquarium and the Bronx, Central Park, Queens and Prospect Park Zoos. “We’ll create exhibits that will allow us to be a year-round facility. Our donors and the city believe we’re the anchor for redevelopment on the east side.”

The aquarium renovation, or Sea Change, as the society is calling it, is a partnership between the city; the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz; and the Wildlife Society. The Bloomberg administration has set aside $41 million for the project in its four-year capital budget. And the society, which plans to unveil the project at its annual fund-raising dinner Thursday night, hopes to raise an additional $15 million by 2013, when the new shark exhibit is expected to open.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the timing “couldn’t be better” for the project, because the City Council had approved the city’s plan to redevelop the seafront district, once known as the world’s largest playground. The plan calls for a 9.4-acre amusement district, with hotels on Surf Avenue and as many as 4,500 apartments to the north and west.

“Through our partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and our renewed capital commitments, we’ll reinvigorate the aquarium and transform it into one of the great seaside attractions in the country,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.

Still, the city remains at odds with Joseph J. Sitt, a developer who owns 10 acres and once had his own redevelopment plan for the area. The Bloomberg administration hopes to buy some or all of his land. In the meantime, Mr. Sitt has closed one popular amusement park, and it is unclear for now who will redevelop the area.

The wildlife society has long wanted to revamp the 52-year-old aquarium in Coney Island, which attracts about 750,000 visitors a year. But the city rejected one plan last year because it provided for new exhibits but failed to transform the building’s exterior and create a more engaging link to the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue.

Mr. Sanderson said there would be three new exhibitions in the main hall by the end of next season, including freshwater fish of Africa, fish of the Amazon and a coral exhibition.

There are plans for a refurbished Aquatheater, a new conservation hall and an expanded marine conservation program.


“This should increase attendance and make it a state-of-the-art facility,” said Domenic M. Recchia Jr., the city councilman who represents the area. “It’s long overdue.”
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  #149  
Old Posted Nov 11, 2009, 9:42 PM
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Finally...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/ny...1&ref=nyregion

City to Buy 7 Acres in Coney Island, Hoping to Spark a Revival



By CHARLES V. BAGLI
November 11, 2009

After a year of ultimatums, threats and stop-and-go negotiations, the Bloomberg administration has agreed to pay $95.6 million to a developer for seven acres in the heart of Coney Island, in a crucial step forward for its vision of turning the faded and dormant seaside amusement district into a glittering destination reminiscent of its heyday, according to executives on both sides of the negotiations.

The city’s deal with the developer, Joseph J. Sitt, capped a long standoff between the two sides, with each claiming it had the best plan for the revival of the fabled playground, but neither able to bring those plans to fruition in a deadly real estate market.

The city will announce the deal on Thursday, but the reality of a revived Coney Island remains a long way off.

Mr. Sitt began buying land in Coney Island in 2005, promising a modern, Las Vegas-style resort with hotels and condominiums among the rides. Today, much of the land sits vacant. While the Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel and Nathan’s hot dog stand remain, the Thunderbolt, Child’s restaurant and even the Astroland amusement park are gone — cleared away for new ventures that were never built.

This summer, with Mr. Sitt and the city in heated negotiations, neither side wanted to be accused of stunting the area’s growth, so each brought in competing attractions for the high season. City Hall arranged for the Ringling Brothers to open a circus tent, and Mr. Sitt unveiled a tent colony of side shows. The tents are now empty, torn by the November winds off the ocean that sweep across the neighborhood.

“It doesn’t look good,” Dick Zigun, who runs the Coney Island Museum and the annual Mermaid Parade, said of the area. He said he was hopeful that the city “is as good as its word.”

Each side claimed victory, though no one wanted to comment for the record before Thursday’s announcement. While Mr. Sitt got much less than the $140 million he had been demanding for 10.5 of the 12.5 acres he owned, the $95.6 million for 6.9 acres came to more than $300 a square foot — a huge amount in the current market. Mr. Sitt, chief executive of Thor Equities, plans to develop hotels and stores in the 5.6 acres he still owns as the city invests in the neighborhood.

City officials did say that in the next few days they would begin soliciting offers for an interim amusement operator before seeking potential developers to create a year-round destination that would ideally include a diverse mix of thrill rides, games and attractions between the Cyclone and the KeySpan ballpark. As a first step, the administration is sending representatives to the annual convention of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions in Las Vegas next week.

The city now has the opportunity to entice a range of operators whose competing visions would make for a dynamic Coney Island, rather than a single vision that turns Coney Island into an amusement mall, said Michael Immerso, author of “Coney Island, the People’s Playground.”

“Coney’s stock in trade has always been beach and the Boardwalk working in tandem with the amusements,” Mr. Immerso said. “I’d urge them to focus on reclaiming the Boardwalk and beach as a seasonal amusement center.”

Mr. Sitt founded the Ashley Stewart plus-size clothing chain, and his company controls about 12 million square feet of retail, hotel and commercial property in cities across the country.

The developer, who often abandoned his high school classes in Brooklyn to spend time in Coney Island, began buying land in the area four years ago, evicting tenants and developing his own plan for redeveloping Coney Island. Mr. Sitt’s proposal called for a $1.5 billion Las Vegas style resort with a huge glass-enclosed water park, wild rides, many stores and condominiums or time-share hotels in tall towers near the beach.

But he clashed with city officials, who said that housing in the amusement district would inevitably clash with the flashing lights, clanging and dinging of the rides. In 2007, Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber described Mr. Sitt’s scheme as a “wolf dressed up as a sheep.”

Mr. Sitt’s land, however, was key to the city’s redevelopment plan, because it sat in the heart of the amusement and entertainment district. A year ago, Mr. Lieber offered $110 million for 10.5 acres of Mr. Sitt’s property, saying the price would go down if the deal was not accepted immediately. Mr. Sitt, who had asked for more than $140 million, went on vacation.

In April, the city offered $105 million. “The bottom line is we can only pay so much,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at the time.

Over the summer, the city rezoned a 19-block area of Coney Island, including a 27-acre amusement and entertainment district and, to the north and west of the district, almost 5,000 apartments and 500,000 square feet of retail. Given the deadlock and Mr. Sitt’s eviction of many tenants, neither side wanted to be blamed for the final decimation of the Coney Island amusements — hence this summer’s competing attractions.

The $95.6 million covers 6.9 acres, most of it along the Boardwalk, between the Cyclone and KeySpan Park, including the former home of Astroland amusement park.

“I think the city made a good choice in buying the land in order to the area along the boardwalk for amusements forever,” said Dennis Vourderis, who family runs the only amusement park left, Dino’s, and the Wonder Wheel, a city landmark. “It won’t be threatened by the development of apartments, shopping malls, or anything else. Now the question is, Who do we bring in to build this billion dollar amusement park.

Mr. Sitt has done very well buying but not building things in Brooklyn. In 2005, he bought a parcel west of the amusement district for $13 million and sold it 14 months later for $90 million. He also bought the Albee Square Mall in Downtown Brooklyn for $25 million in 2001, vowing to renovate. He sold it in 2007 for $125 million, without the makeover.

The Bloomberg administration has said it would not allow the site to lie fallow. It plans to find an interim operator and invest money in sprucing up the nearby Aquarium, designating up to 12 acres for amusements, renovating Steeplechase Plaza, creating a new park and installing a refurbished wooden carousel.

All of that is necessary for attracting new investment to the district, Mr. Zigun said.
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  #150  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2010, 2:41 PM
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An operator has been chosen for the temporary amusment park...

http://www.ny1.com/1-all-boroughs-ne...ement-operator
NY1 Exclusive: City Names Coney Island Amusement Operator

By: NY1 News
1/19/2010

The city has reportedly chosen a new amusement park operator for Coney Island.

Sources tell NY1 that Zamperla USA was named the new amusement park operator for Coney Island Tuesday.

The company was among several others vying for the operating rights, including Ripley's Believe or Not and Steel Pier.

Contenders for the rights had to submit proposals, which included developing at one of the three parcels of land between the former Astroland site and KeySpan Park.

Sources say Zamperla's plan included developing all three.

City officials want the rides up and running by this summer.

The city acquired the land from developer Joe Sitt last month.

Zamperla is an Italian company and is one of the largest manufactures of amusement rides in the world with its American headquarters based out of Parsippany, New Jersey.
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  #151  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2010, 3:08 AM
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http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...-new-operator/

City Near Deal for New Coney Island Operator

By CHARLES V. BAGLI
January 20, 2010


It looks like Coney Island will not go without a whirling, clanging amusement park and a crop of new rides for the first time in more than a century as many had feared. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is negotiating a lease with an amusement park operator, Zamperla USA, for six vacant acres in the heart of what has been the amusement district, between Surf Avenue and the ocean.

It is not a done deal, but city officials are hopeful that they can make an announcement as soon as next week that Zamperla has signed a contract to operate in Coney Island for up to 10 years. The negotiations were first reported by NY1 News.

Coney Island boosters and some community groups had worried that the waterfront district would become a dead zone this summer. Last November, the city agreed to pay $95.6 million for roughly six acres owned by the developer Joseph J. Sitt, who had spent a fortune buying land in the area and developing a proposal to revive the fabled playground that competed with the city’s vision.

But prior to that deal, Mr. Sitt had closed the Astroland amusement park and evicted many of the tenants.
The city solicited bids from operators in November and got a handful of responses. It now appears that it will have an operator in place soon.

An executive at Zamperla’s office in New Jersey said the company had been instructed to refer all calls to the city’s development agency.

David Lombino, a spokesman for the development agency, conceded that the city was “closing in on an agreement with an operator for an expanded outdoor amusement park that will be open to the public starting this summer.” He declined to go into detail.

But even some critics of the city’s plans were cautiously optimistic about the pending deal.

“They’re an outstanding company,” Dick Zigun, executive director of Coney Island USA, which conducts the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, said of Zamperla. “They would be my choice. I’m hopeful that come Memorial Day, Coney Island will have more rides than we’ve seen in the past decade.”

Zamperla USA is the American wing of an Italian company that is known more as the largest manufacturer of amusement park rides, everything from kiddie rides to sophisticated roller coasters and other thrill rides, than as an amusement park operator. The company usually has the largest single booth at the annual meeting of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Its products, like the Zodiac, which has seats mounted on a spinning disk at the top of a tower, show up at amusement parks all over the world.

Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, whose district includes Coney Island, said that Zamperla had submitted a creative proposal that set it apart from the other bidders. “You’ll love it,” he said, declining to give details. “We’ll have what the bigger amusement parks have, on a smaller scale.”

Zamperla operates the Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park, as well as Minitalia Leolandia Amusement Park in Capriate San Vervasio, Italy. Valerio Ferrari, the president of Zamperla USA, was a member of a city-sponsored advisory panel last year that made a series of recommendations concerning the redevelopment of Coney Island’s amusement area.
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  #152  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2010, 10:42 AM
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http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/...oland_lot.html

Zamperla USA likely to bring roller coasters and thrill rides to Coney Island's Astroland lot


While Coney Island developers aren’t telling what new attractions on lot will be,
possible amusements could be the Moto Coaster (above) and Vertical Swing (below).





BY Erin Durkin
January 21st 2010

Coney Island will be alive with new rides this summer.

Zamperla USA, which operates Victorian Gardens, the popular kiddie park at Wollman Rink in Central Park, has won the bid to set up shop on a 7-acre chunk of land that includes the site of the now-shuttered Astroland.

The company is keeping mum on what it plans to bring in, but some of the flashiest attractions it makes include:

-The Disk-O Coaster - a combination roller coaster and spinning ride that spins riders in circles while going over drops on a track.

-The Vertical Swing - a high-speed swing ride 125 feet up in the air.

-The Giant Discovery - which swings riders from a giant pendulum and flips them upside down.

-The Flash Tower - which free-falls from 120 feet.

"Bring it all in," said freak show maestro Dick Zigun, whose Coney Island USA organization runs the annual Mermaid Parade.

"Hopefully, they will use Coney Island as an international showcase, and why not? It's New York City, after all," Zigun said.

"We're closing in on an agreement," Economic Development Corp. spokesman David Lombino said Wednesday of the final negotiations.

It will be a race against the clock to get a temporary park up and running in the coming months. The city wants at least some of the rides open by Memorial Day. The new amusements will go up on land the city bought for $95.6 million from developer Joe Sitt in November.

Zamperla could control the site for up to 10 years. After that, the city will look for a permanent developer to turn Coney into a year-round ride, entertainment and retail destination, in line with a massive development plan passed by the City Council last summer.


Zamperla beat out a consortium of American companies dubbed the Coney Island Amusement Group, which included Ripley's Entertainment and Steel Pier in Atlantic City.
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  #153  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2010, 3:22 PM
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Big news for Coney! Big gun to run theme park this summer


This was Coney Island last year — a sad summer of long faces.



The announcement of an interim operator is great news for many Coney boosters, though it's still a far cry
from the city's long-term vision, seen in this 2008 rendering.



By Andy Campbell
January 20, 2010


Coney Island’s going back to the big time, as the city announced on Wednesday that the amusement wizards behind the popular Victorian Gardens theme park will begin running an amusement park by the Boardwalk this summer.

Zamperla, an Italy-based manufacturer of amusement park rides that has also gotten into the theme park business with its popular attraction in Manhattan’s Central Park every summer, has won the city contract for an unspecified, but up to 10-year, run as the faded funhouse’s newest, biggest draw.

The contract comes with big expectations: the Economic Development Corporation has a much broader vision of a revived Coney Island that will see the former People’s Playground transformed into a 24-7, all-year entertainment, amusement, games and retail zone — one that will take at least a decade to realize.

Until that Xanadu can be built, Zamperla will bring in its rides — though the actual amusements remain undecided — and begin operating by this summer.


“We’re excited,” said EDC spokesman Dave Lombino. “But we can’t comment on the rides or the selection process until the agreement is finalized.”

Though details remain sketchy, the EDC did require all would-be interim operators to provide an “open and affordable” pay-as-you-go experience in Coney. Zamperla’s track record in that area includes Victorian Gardens operation, which offers all-day unlimited rides for $21.50 that has proven very popular.

“Zamperland” in Coney Island will eventually operate on all three parcels of land between the former Astroland site and Keyspan Park that the city bought from major Coney landowner Joe Sitt last year — though only the Astroland plot — at Surf Avenue and West 10th Street — is required to be ready by this summer.

Astroland’s former owner Carol Albert, who initially hoped to bid for the interim amusement park, said the announcement of Zamperla’s winning bid was bittersweet.

“Reluctantly, we pulled out at the last minute because we could not possibly put [a proposal] together in the six weeks that the [EDC] required,” said Albert, who sold her land to Sitt in 2006 and ran her park as a renter until 2008. “But Zamperla will provide great rides and a beautiful experience like they did with Victorian Gardens.”

The city plans to spend $2.2 million, mostly to bring in electrical generators and portable toilets, though Zamperla is expected to build permanent restrooms and take over the electric bill in future years.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2010, 1:29 AM
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Scoop: Zamperla’s $24M Coney Island Park to be Named Luna Park!



January 26, 2010
by Tricia


In a Jan 23 interview with his hometown newspaper, Zamperla President and CEO Alberto Zamperla revealed the previously undisclosed name and numbers of his soon-to-be built amusement park in Coney Island. “The park will be called, Luna Park, like the first, the only, the inimitable one, the one created by Frederic Thompson and Elmer ‘Skip’ Dundy,” according to an article in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale di Vicenza.

The original Luna Park (1903-1946), one of Coney Island’s four historic amusement parks, inspired Luna Parks throughout the country and round the world.


In many countries, including Italy, “Luna Park” is a generic term for amusement park. The article mentions bringing a smile back to the lips of Manhattan director Woody Allen and millions of Americans who return to play in the real and only Luna Park.

Now for the numbers: “For the first season we have estimated the presence of 400 thousand visitors and we are confident it will grow in the future,” Zamperla told the paper. “In terms of investment, we are talking about $24 million over three years. For us it is a great satisfaction as well as a great opportunity.”

The CEO said he was flying to New York the next day and characterized the next few months as “a race against time.” The amusement operator has only six weeks from the site turnover date of April 15 until the park’s opening on Memorial Day weekend to produce the new rides and assemble the new park.

Last week NY1 leaked the news that the City had selected Zamperla USA to be the new amusement park operator for Coney Island. The news is absolutely thrilling, though not at all surprising, to those of us who work in Coney. Zamperla was considered the front runner because they operate Victorian Gardens for the City and their CEO joined the CIDC’s Amusement Advisory Board in March 2009.

We look forward to the official press conference where Zamperla unveils their designs and ride line-up for the future Luna Park. An announcement is expected as early as this week. But we can’t wait any longer to say Congratulazioni a Zamperla! Welcome to Coney Island!
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Thor’s Coney Island: Freak Museum to Lease Coney’s Oldest Building


John Strong's Freak Museum 2010 Location: Thor Equities Shuttered Grashorn Bldg, Surf Ave & Jones Walk,
Coney Island, August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


January 31, 2010
by Tricia

ATZ has learned that sideshow operator John Strong has made a deal with Thor Equities to return to Coney Island for the 2010 season. In lieu of last year’s location in the former Astroland arcade, which was sold to the City, Strong’s freak museum will occupy Thor Equities’ owned 1104 Surf Ave at Jones Walk. Known as the Grashorn Building after Henry Grashorn’s Hardware store, which was in business in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the building is Coney Island’s oldest. The Texas-based showman flew into New York last week for a meeting with Thor Equities.

The building fronts Surf Avenue and extends along the west side of Jones Walk. Yet this prime location remained vacant and devoid of activity in 2009 (see photo above) due to Thor CEO Joe Sitt’s soaring rents. Last summer, a business owner who had leased a small stand on the Walk from Thor in 2008 told us the 2009 rent had tripled from $8,000 to $24,000. He declined the space and left Coney Island.

John Strong was mum on the cost of his lease for the Grashorn but is said to be happy with the deal. His museum of live and preserved freaks and oddities will occupy a prime location between Zamperla’s new Luna Park on the former Astroland site and Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Museum at Surf Ave and 12th Street. The extra added attraction for Strong and company is the apartment on the upper floors.


Grashorn Building, April 19, 2003. Municipal Art Society via flickr


As ATZ reported in “John Strong Sideshow Aims for Coney Island Comeback” (Jan 13, 2010), Strong also proposes putting his ten-in-one sideshow as well as a circus on Thor’s Stillwell property. But several carnivals and amusement operators, including the also rans for the City’s RFP, are vying to lease what remains of Thor’s lots on Stillwell. A decision is expected by mid-February.

In Coney Island: Lost and Found, historian Charles Denson writes that the building at 1104 Surf dates back to the 1880’s and the Grashorn hardware store served Coney Island’s amusement businesses for more than 60 years: “The clapboard façade, dormers, cast iron resting, chimneys and fish-scale shingles were removed when the building was renovated in the 1980s but the mansard roof retains its shape.”


Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project


The Grashorn is one of six historic structures proposed for city landmark designation by Coney Island USA, the Municipal Art Society and Save Coney Island. In 2004, Coney Island USA received a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund to hire an architectural historian and research old buildings in Coney Island. The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has delayed calendaring the buildings for more than three years.

MAS’s Melissa Baldock makes a plea for the Grashorn Building’s landmark designation: “The building could be restored to be a wonderful showpiece of Coney Island’s historic vernacular architecture. It is remarkable that this building, which predates Coney Island’s first enclosed amusement parks and was built around the same time as Coney Island (and America’s) first roller coaster, survives in 2009. However, without landmark status, there is no guarantee that this piece of Coney Island history will be part of its future.”
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New roller coaster proposal for Coney Island
Joe Sitt suggests partnering with city on project


By Stephen Witt
February 2, 2010


Good fences may make good neighbors, but having the world’s largest roller coaster spanning two properties in Coney Island would make for a partnership.

Which is exactly what Joe Sitt, the principal of Thor Equities, would like to do with the city.

Sitt, who sold seven of his approximately 11 acres of Coney Island property in the amusement district late last year for $95.6 million to the city, said he’d love to partner with the Bloomberg administration on putting the world’s largest roller coaster in America’s playground.

“That’s still my dream. I’m hoping that once the city executes their final plan on the amusement district they can do something that can somehow incorporate something on our property and their property for one huge ride,” said Sitt.

A few years ago, before Sitt sold the property, he proposed a roller coaster that runs through Coney Island’s entire amusement district.

The city, which bought the property in reportedly testy negotiations, reacted skeptically.

“We welcome him (Sitt) to incorporate new and exciting uses on his properties that are within the realm of zoning,” said Libby Langsdorf, spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

Sitt said he is waiting for the city to make necessary infrastructure improvements before he finalizes plans for what’s left of his property.

“We’re in the back seat right now,” said Sitt. “We can’t do anything til the city does their side.”

Sitt said this includes infrastructure work such as installing electrical and sewer lines.

It also includes raising the heights of the streets because it’s so close to the beach, he said.

Sitt suggested the city can even get federal stimulus money to pay for the work.

As for his remaining property, Sitt said he anticipates possibly building a hotel as well as an assortment of retail and amusement-related businesses such as an indoor water park and restaurants.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2010, 6:03 AM
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God, there is so much going on with this project.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2010, 1:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thymant View Post
God, there is so much going on with this project.
Yeah, it's an epic redevelopment playing out before our eyes. Coney Island deserves it, it's one of the great iconic locations in New York. It was stripped down last year to virtually no amusementsk, but begins the long climb back this year with the opening of the new "Lunar Park". This will get things up and running until the city's master plan can be implemented, which could take up to a decade.

Quote:
Sitt, who sold seven of his approximately 11 acres of Coney Island property in the amusement district late last year for $95.6 million to the city, said he’d love to partner with the Bloomberg administration on putting the world’s largest roller coaster in America’s playground.

“That’s still my dream. I’m hoping that once the city executes their final plan on the amusement district they can do something that can somehow incorporate something on our property and their property for one huge ride,” said Sitt.
Having something tie all of the amusements together would be great. But like you said, there's so much going on.
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2010, 12:55 AM
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http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/..._mcu_park.html

Brooklyn Cyclones' KeySpan Park renamed MCU Park



BY Victor Epstein AND Oren Yaniv
February 4th 2010


Winds of change are coming to the Brooklyn Cyclones.

The ballpark for the Mets' minor league affiliates, that was known as KeySpan Park since it opened in 2001, has been renamed MCU Park Thursday.

"We are very excited about our new partnership because it is such a natural fit," said Municipal Credit Union CEO Kam Wong.

He would not disclose the financial terms of the 11-year agreement, only saying, "It's very reasonable."

Cyclones general manger Steve Cohen said the new stadium sponsor is apt because MCU serves municipal employees, which comprise a third of the team's fans.

"Like any other change of a name," he said, "it will take people some time to make the switch."

Borough President Marty Markowitz, who also attended the light-hearted press conference at the park's Brooklyn Baseball Gallery, vowed to make the adjustment.

"I call it the Cyclones Stadium," he said. "I'll try my best to call it MCU Park."

Naming rights for the Coney Island stadium were sold to KeySpan through 2020, but the utility company was sold to National Grid in 2007 and its name was gone with that deal.

Now both the Mets' major league home, Citi Field, and its local minor league complex are named after financial institutions.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon took the opportunity to drum up hope for next season after a dismal 2009 was followed by a disappointing off-season.

"This is going to be a comeback year," he said. "We filled those positions we feel are important. These guys want to prove last year was an aberration and it's not going to happen again... so I'm very optimistic."
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Old Posted Feb 9, 2010, 3:27 AM
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