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Old Posted Sep 19, 2005, 12:21 PM
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Smile NEW YORK | Coney Island Redevelopment

NEW YORK MAGAZINE
http://newyorkmagazine.com/nymetro/r...eatures/14498/

The Incredibly Bold, Audaciously Cheesy, Jaw-Droppingly Vegasified, Billion-Dollar Glam-Rock Makeover of Coney Island

A first look at its not-preposterous future.





An early sketch of Sitt's Coney Island resort, complete with landing pad for blimps.




An early conceptual rendering of the shopping, entertainment, and hotel complex real-estate mogul Joe Sitt wants to build in Coney Island. (Photo credit: Joshua Lutz)


By Greg Sargent

Joe Sitt is pacing the Coney Island Boardwalk.

“Imagine something like the Bellagio hotel right now—just stop and see it,” he says, sweeping his hand in a long, slow arc over his head. “The lights. The action. The vitality. The people. We wanna evoke the same feeling you get when you’re in Vegas. It’s exciting. It’s illuminated. It’s sexy.”

Behind him is an aggressively down-market stretch of fast-food stands, dingy arcades, and cheap souvenir shops that have as much in common with the Bellagio as does a three-card-monte table. But when this wiry, frenetic 41-year-old looks at the seediness, he sees an opportunity to do something big. And he can—because all those ramshackle properties belong to him.

Over the past few years, Sitt’s real-estate company, Thor Equities, has quietly spent nearly $100 million buying up a huge swath of Coney Island from multiple owners, painstakingly overtaking perhaps twelve acres of land along the boardwalk, mostly between KeySpan Park, home of the Cyclones, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Sitt, a little-known Manhattan mogul who’s made his fortune building inner-city shopping malls across the country, now lays claim to Coney’s prime turf, its real-estate trophy. It’s no surprise, then, that Sitt’s mysterious plans have stirred plenty of rumors among Coney locals, who worry he’s plotting to develop a shopping mall or a Wal-Mart on their hallowed grounds.

But Sitt’s scheme for reviving the world’s once-premier amusement park is far more ambitious than the whispers suggest. He plans to build a glittering resort paradise right next to the Coney Island boardwalk—a retail and entertainment colossus every bit as outrageous and flamboyant as the Bahamas’ Atlantis.

The plan includes megaplexes. An indoor water park. A 500-room, four-star hotel—four stars, in Coney Island!—and, at the center of it all, an enormous, psychedelic carousel laced with visual cues to a Coney Island that Timothy Leary could have dreamed up. Equally spectacular, Sitt hopes, will be a blimp that will take off from the complex’s roof, carrying tourists on joyrides over the city as it flashes the resort’s name in giant technicolor letters: THE BOARDWALK AT CONEY ISLAND.


“The dirigible will leave every ten minutes,” Sitt says, jabbing his finger excitedly toward the sky. “On an ongoing basis. Another. Another. Another. Lifting off and taking people on a tour, spreading the message that this is the place to be.” The total price tag: $1 billion, which Sitt hopes to raise from private investors. Sitt has seen Coney Island’s future, and it looks like Vegas—turned up a few notches.

As we talk, Sitt’s cell phone repeatedly interrupts his reverie. He takes the calls, standing not far from a wooden sign advertising a game called SHOOT THE FREAK, a glaring reminder of the enormous gap between Coney’s present state and Sitt’s decadent vision. He’s in the middle of closing a $230 million deal to buy the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, an old, underperforming property he hopes to turn around. This is how Sitt has gotten rich—by pouncing on real-estate and retail opportunities others have overlooked, either because they were decrepit or in undesirable neighborhoods. The son of a Brooklyn textiles merchant, Sitt had his first big financial success in 1990, when, at the age of 26, he took a then-unusual gamble and founded Ashley Stewart, a chain of shops for plus-size, upward-aspiring African-American women.

Sitt was among the first to sense the vast untapped purchasing power of urban ethnic customers, then being ignored by national retail chains. As Alan Barocas, senior vice-president of real estate for the Gap, puts it, “When national retailers were concentrating on suburbs and exurbs, Joe saw a void. Instead of running, he saw opportunity.”

Not long after founding Ashley Stewart, Sitt had a second revelation: The inner-city landlords renting to his stores were asking for far less rent than he—and other retailers, he suspected—would willingly pay. So Sitt began buying up cheap properties in decaying urban areas and opening malls on them. Thor Equities eventually amassed an empire of about 14 million square feet in a dozen cities.




Behold the Freakenspiel, a merry-go-round and water fountain topped by a pyrotechnic elephant


Though Sitt’s scheme for Coney Island is also a massive gamble on a down-on-its-luck part of the city that many have written off, this deal has another element: personal nostalgia.

Sitt grew up in nearby Gravesend, and trips to Coney were an integral part of his childhood in the late sixties and early seventies, when memories of Coney’s glorious early-twentieth-century heyday were already fading. He still lives near Coney (albeit in a much bigger house) and jogs on the boardwalk. “I love Coney Island,” he says, frequently—giving in to a gushing sentimentality about the project that worries some of his Thor executives. To them, the scheme seems fraught with frightening unknowns: Will the right mix of businesses agree to take a chance on a neighborhood that remains something of a dump? Can a high-end hotel survive so far from midtown? Would a Vegas-style entertainment complex shatter the patchwork quality that gives Coney its mystique?

No one knows the answers, which gives rise to even bigger questions: Is Sitt’s Coney scheme the product of the same business acumen that created Ashley Stewart and his real-estate empire? Or is it merely a hugely expensive sentimental journey for Sitt, a nostalgia-fueled boondoggle-in-the-making?

To realize his vision, Sitt needs the support of another New Yorker who hopes Coney’s best days are ahead: Michael Bloomberg. City officials say they’re not prepared to publicly comment on Sitt’s plan until they review it in detail, but they’re generally supportive. “Although we haven’t gotten into specifics of his plan, I’m confident we’ll be able to get together on a project that helps achieve our vision for Coney Island,” says Josh Sirefman, City Hall’s point man on Coney redevelopment. While city officials have worked successfully with Sitt before—such as on an office tower he’s building in downtown Brooklyn—and are encouraged by his ideas for a water park, carousel, and music venues, there are still potential sticking points. For instance, they don’t want to see Coney Island become “a huge mall gussied up with a bit of entertainment,” one Bloomberg aide says. “We want a large entertainment component, because that will preserve Coney’s heritage and protect its authenticity and uniqueness.”

Another potential cause of friction, they say, could arise over the project’s scale. To be economically viable, Sitt says, the complex has to be at least 2 million square feet, a size that could overwhelm the low-rise neighborhood. “We have a lot of work to do—we have to figure out the appropriate scale for Coney,” the aide says.

Mindful of the powerful symbolism of reviving Coney, the Bloomberg administration has invested tons of capital, political and otherwise, in the area. Last spring, officials unveiled a new $240 million subway terminal at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, Coney’s main intersection. And last Wednesday, Bloomberg journeyed out to Coney’s boardwalk to announce that the government was committing a total of $83 million for neighborhood improvements such as new parking and a community center. He also said the city had completed a master plan for the area, a general set of guidelines meant to encourage private developers—like Sitt—to try to turn Coney into a revitalized, year-round destination.

But the dream of a reborn Coney has proved elusive since the sixties, when Mayor John Lindsay built the low-income housing that hastened the neighborhood’s decline. Since then, a string of failed revival schemes have come and gone. Ed Koch’s plan for casinos tanked when the State Legislature failed to legalize gambling. A subsequent plot by Horace Bullard, the flamboyant founder of the Kansas Fried Chicken chain, to rebuild Coney Island’s historic Steeplechase Park died amid a bitter squabble with the city.

Coney’s historical resonance as the birthplace of the beach-based amusement resort—not to mention the hot dog—has made its decline all the more dispiriting. Unlike other historically significant neighborhoods—places like Times Square and 125th Street, whose heydays, declines, and subsequent rebirths have embodied the larger story of New York—Coney hasn’t rebounded. The 2001 opening of KeySpan Park has given only a modest boost to local merchants because fans largely disappear after games. Come autumn, everyone disappears. Six months of the year, Coney Island is desolate—or, as Gregory Bitetzakis, who owns two restaurants there, puts it, “cold. Very cold. Not a soul around.”

Who in their right mind would travel to Coney Island in February? Sitt’s biggest problem, so far, is that his plan conspicuously lacks a single economic engine, the way Atlantic City has casinos. He’s got his blimps, his carousel, the fireworks he wants to launch from a new pier jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. He also hopes to entice Cirque du Soleil, the House of Blues, and other name-brand draws. Another idea is turning Coney’s major winter liability—proximity to the wind-whipped beach—into a visual asset. “Imagine kids going down a 100-foot-tall waterslide in an indoor water park on a frigid day in January, staring at the ocean outside,” Sitt says. But he says he needs 13 million people a year to spend money in his complex. That’s going to have to be some waterslide.

Another big challenge for Sitt is attracting the right retailers. Sitt says he’s currently in talks with movie-theater companies Loews and UA/Regal, the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum chain, and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream. Done right, the complex could entice New Yorkers who now drive to Atlantic City or Great Adventure. But well-heeled retailers may yet conclude that the neighborhood’s traffic is too shallow-pocketed to support them, and Sitt could find himself stuck with down-market chains (Foot Locker, Tad’s Steaks). Think Rye Playland in the middle of a freezing, forbidding urban landscape.

Experts say that for the project to work, its stores need to command about $400 or $500 per square foot in sales. (By way of comparison, Times Square retailers net up to $1,000 per square foot, experts say.) Those are ambitious numbers, but they’re in the realm of what other big retailers, including Banana Republic, the Gap, and Express, make in places like the Kings Plaza mall or Brooklyn Heights, according to Gene Spiegelman, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield real estate and the company’s expert on Brooklyn retail.

“That’s a sign that the Brooklyn market remains very underserved by retail—which suggests that this project can move those numbers,” says Spiegelman. “Across the country, there’s typically an average of twenty square feet of retail to each person. In Brooklyn, the ratio is six to one, and that’s in a community—Brooklyn—with 2.5 million people.”

Then there’s the problem of getting a big hotel operator. Sitt’s own analysts say it would have to charge from $250 to $300 per night and have at least 70 percent occupancy year-round. “To achieve that, we’ll need to figure out how to position the hotel—whether as a meeting place for conventions or more as a resort-type tourist attraction,” says David Malmuth, managing director of Robert Charles Lesser & Co., which Sitt has hired to crunch the plan’s numbers.

In Sitt’s conviction that retailers and hotel operators will come, it’s easy to hear echoes of his softheaded side. “Quality purveyors will fit right in here,” he insists. “It’s got the beach, the boardwalk, the brand—Coney Island! It’s got sooo much potential!”

Sitt, of course, is hardly the only person enamored of Coney Island’s “brand,” and his billion-dollar vision is stirring some worry among locals who harbor their own deep nostalgia for the place. Take Dick Zigun, the unofficial “mayor” of Coney and founder of Coney Island USA, which runs the Mermaid Parade and the Coney Island Museum. He hopes Sitt’s cosmopolis will help the community, but as the self-appointed guardian of Coney Island kitsch, Zigun feels protective of the neighborhood’s heritage. His museum is housed on a property not owned by Sitt, and he worries about eviction. What better way for Sitt to prove good intentions toward Coney, Zigun asks, than to rent the museum a home in the new complex?

“We’d like him to rise to the occasion and earn us as his partner,” Zigun says. “He hasn’t said no, but he hasn’t said yes, either.”

Zigun also wonders about the fate of locals operating food shacks and souvenir stands on Sitt’s property. “There are businesses here I love very much, like Ruby’s Bar [on the boardwalk],” he says. “Let’s be realistic—some of them won’t be able to afford the new rents, thanks to what’s unofficially called ‘progress.’ ”

Sitt is working to win over the locals. Mindful that an isolated monolith could be unpalatable to the community, his chief designer, Stan Eckstut, is working on a plan to weave the complex seamlessly into the neighborhood beyond. “This can’t be self-contained, like something in downtown Stamford,” says Eckstut, who also designed the MGM Mirage City Center in Vegas. “It has to be accessible to everyone—kind of the town center of Coney Island.”

Or, as Sitt puts it: “Our vision is lights, camera, action, entertainment. But it can’t be too cleaned up. It has to have that special Coney flavor.”


He’s promised local merchants whom the project will displace that they will get first crack at renting space in the new project. And as Sitt well knows, his local-boy-made-good bio is a big help in selling his scheme. He often makes the rounds among Coney locals, always calling himself “Joey.”

These efforts have slowly made Coney denizens warm up to Sitt—perhaps partly because they’re all desperate for a cash infusion into the area. “Joe is a Brooklyn guy that wants to do right by Coney Island,” says Dennis Vourderis, who’s owned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park with his brother for almost 25 years. “The general consensus here is, we would love him to succeed. If he succeeds, so does Coney Island.”

Though such hopes have proved vain for nearly half a century, the moment may be ripe for Coney’s big comeback as the next step in Brooklyn’s astonishing resurgence over the past two decades. The irony is that until now, big builders have played little role in Brooklyn’s bounce-back, achieved largely by gradual gentrification, through entrepreneurship and the rehabbing of neighborhoods one warehouse at a time. The result has been an enormous boost of disposable income that’s made Brooklyn safe for big-time investment. In other words, after all the hard work by small businesspeople and fixer-upper homeowners, the cashing-in stage has arrived for the big developers: Witness plans for high-rises on the Williamsburg waterfront; Bruce Ratner’s planned arena on the Atlantic rail yards; and now, Sitt’s plan for Coney Island.

"The Incredibly Bold, Audaciously Cheesy, Jaw-Droppingly Vegasified, Billion-Dollar Glam-Rock Makeover of Coney Island"

It’s tempting to see Sitt as a kind of Coney Island Bugsy Siegel (sans the wiseguy ties), the notorious gangster who reimagined a grubby little town in the Nevada desert as the gambling mecca of the United States. “I feel like him,” Sitt says. “Bugsy Siegel went into a town and there were a couple of small gambling casinos. His dream was to take the inspiration from what was there before and magnify it. Give it more variety. Give it choices . . . That’s exactly the turnaround opportunity that we see here in Coney Island!”

Sitt starts jabbing at the air again. “People said I was nuts for opening upscale stores in the middle of some of the toughest African-American neighborhoods in the United States,” he practically yells. “You know what? They were wrong.”
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Old Posted Sep 23, 2005, 9:42 PM
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BROOKLYN PAPERS

VEGAS BY THE SEA
Developer shows new vision of Coney



Artist renderings of an indoor mall envisioned by developer Joseph Sitt, of Thor Equities, for constuction along the Coney Island boardwalk. The plan could transform Coney Island into a year-round destination.


By Ariella Cohen
The Brooklyn Papers

Over the next few weeks, the city Department of Parks and Recreation will decide who gets to operate Brooklyn’s favorite rickety ride — the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster.

But while the Cyclone is obviously an icon of Coney Island, it may soon become a remnant of its past.

Joseph Sitt, owner of Thor Equities, the development company that operates the Gallery at Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn and owns over 12 acres of seaside property in the faded amusement mecca, has visions of a glitzy boardwalk entertainment strip that looks more Vegas than Astroland.

In digital renderings sent to The Brooklyn Papers this week, a Nike-sponsored climbing wall takes up one region of a sweeping indoor amusement zone. A fiberglass elephant gleams upon a double-tiered carousel.

The House of Blues plays ground-floor anchor to another glassy, indoor-entertainment zone, much like the national chain does at its boardwalk location on the ground floor of the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City or at Barefoot Landing on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

In describing his vision for the amusement complex to a New York magazine reporter, Sitt also talked about a 100-foot-tall waterslide in an indoor water park and reported that he is currently in talks with movie theater companies Loews and UA/Regal.

So far, Sitt’s vision has generated enthusiasm, albeit that of the guarded and slightly ambivalent breed, among those whose properties would be affected.

“I have spoken with Sitt and other interested developers and I am sure they know that no matter the grandeur of their designs they will have to retain the feeling — I don’t know how to describe it — that will allow it to blend to Coney island as it is now,” said Horace Bullard, a Coney Island property owner and founder of the Kansas Fried Chicken chain, who at one time planned to rebuild Coney’s historic Steeplechase Park.

“I’ve read a lot of things, but I guess I am like a lot of people — I’ll wait and see what happens,” said Cyclone roller coaster manager Mark Blumenthal, an employee of Astroland for the past 24 years.

Bullard sold the former Washington Baths on West 21st Street and Surf Avenue, where Sitt plans a condo development, but still owns a vacant, 4-acre tract where a roller coaster once stood. He agrees with Sitt that all-season attractions like the climbing wall or a giant indoor water slide would keep true to the resort’s pleasure-zone heritage and of course, make Coney Island a year-round draw for the city.

“It is an exciting plan, as I am sure many that will be proposed will be,” he told The Brooklyn Papers.

While Sitt did not offer comment on his company’s plans or wishes for the Astroland property, he has made no promises to the current operators.

Adding tension to the Cyclone negotiations, a misaligned piece of track on the 85-foot-tall, wood-and-steel roller coaster sent four riders to the hospital with whiplash two weeks ago, an accident attributed by the Astroland operators to old age. The famous ride was shut down during the Labor Day weekend as a result of the accident.

The low-tech attraction, which is 78 years old, is owned by the Parks Department and, as stipulated by law, bid out every 10 years. Two weeks ago, the city closed its bidding period.

The bidding yielded proposals from a number of interested parties — the number of bids and their content are under wraps until the city makes its decision — a parks spokesperson said.

Aside from Astroland’s owner, the Albert family which currently operates the roller coaster, none of the bidders have publicly come forward.

Blumenthal said he had not heard of rival bidders.

“We are getting ready for next year,” he said. “At this time, there is no indication we are not going to be here.”

Yet, as change wafts, as sure as the scent of a Nathan’s hot dog, over the boardwalk there are questions about who will take over area leases.

“Landlords are only giving one-year extensions on leases now,” said Dick Zigun, president of Coney Island USA, the nonprofit community arts organization that organizes the annual Mermaid Parade on the boardwalk and Surf Avenue.

This November, the 10-year lease Zigun holds on Coney Island USA’s current Surf Avenue location will expire and he wants to move to a derelict bank building at Surf Avenue and West 12th Street that was recently bought up by Thor Equities.

Coney Island USA has already sent a letter of intent to Sitt and is now awaiting a response.

“He appreciates what we do,” said Zigun. “He hasn’t said, yes, but he hasn’t said, no.”
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Old Posted Sep 24, 2005, 1:30 PM
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The Coney Island of the past...




















[img]http://rds.yahoo.com/S=96062883/K=coney+island+park/v=2/SID=e/TID=I049_75/l=IVI/SIG=1232f911k/EXP=1127652524/*-http%3A//timefreezephotos.com/postcards/coney.jpg?[/img]








[img]http://rds.yahoo.com/S=96062883/K=coney+island+park/v=2/SID=e/TID=I049_75/l=IVI/SIG=123vqqrck/EXP=1127652808/*-http%3A//www.ualr.edu/~jxbriton/prof/lunaview.jpg?[/img]





























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Old Posted Oct 3, 2005, 10:58 PM
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I'm sorry... The "freakenspiel" ?
That is too funny.
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Old Posted Dec 5, 2005, 2:05 PM
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DAILY NEWS

Boardwalk Bahamas?


Call it Club Med meets Coney Island.

Banana boat rides and parasailing could soon join the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel as favorite Coney Island activities, the Daily News has learned.

The two Caribbean vacation staples are highlighted in a draft proposal for a "beach adventure concession" quietly circulated by the Parks Department last month.

"It's about time that our beaches have activities like they have in Aruba, the Bahamas and Florida," said City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island).

The Parks Department wants operators to bring in rock climbing walls, trampolines and trapeze courses on the beach in front of KeySpan Park.

Tropical resort vacation activities such as banana boat rides or parasailing are also a possibility, officials said. "We'd love to see it. We think it would be very popular in Coney Island," said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy parks commissioner. "But we're not quite sure that it is going to work."

It's not yet clear if the ocean is too choppy or there is too much boat traffic for banana boats or parasailing, Kavanagh said.

Rich Welter, a former Long Islander who owns Sunset Watersports in Key West, Fla., said he thought the city's plan could work.

"It can't be too choppy for a banana boat. It makes it more fun," said Welter, adding that banana boat rides and parasailing are among his most popular offerings.

The proposal comes in the midst of a development boom in the faded seaside resort.

Developer Thor Equities is pushing to build a $1 billion entertainment and retail complex along Stillwell Ave., between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk.

Most Coney Island regulars also said they can't wait.

"That sounds hot," said Justin Green, a college student who grew up nearby. "This is the best thing I've heard that's coming here."

"I like it," said Nathan's customer Shelby Dawson, who lives in Brighton Beach.

"I've never been to the Caribbean ... so this would give a lot of us down here a chance to experience something like that."

But Everett Keller, a construction company owner from Dyker Heights, said he didn't want Coney Island to turn into a Caribbean-style resort.

"Does this look like the Bahamas to you?" he said over lunch at Nathan's. "You ask most people and they'll say they like Coney Island the way it is."
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Old Posted Dec 5, 2005, 3:26 PM
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This is a long time comming. I think it is a bit unfair to say that Joe Sitt's proposal is over-the-top and cheesy. Look at the coney island of the past, those buildings, colors, the pagentry would've been considered the Vegas of the time. Coney island is all about a circus-like atmosphere. Its a shame they never took astro-land a ran with it-maybe even turning it over to six-flags at some point in history. I think the trade off in identity loss would be offset by a spill-over of other businesses to capitalize on its cachet as a destination. Six Flags Astroland @ Coney Island featuring the world's tallest, fastest roller coaster? Sounds pretty good to me.
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Old Posted Dec 6, 2005, 1:12 AM
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Originally Posted by GFSNYC
This is a long time comming. I think it is a bit unfair to say that Joe Sitt's proposal is over-the-top and cheesy. Look at the coney island of the past, those buildings, colors, the pagentry would've been considered the Vegas of the time.

True. Ironically, the same people who say they don't want a "tame" Coney Island are the same people preaching for just that.
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Old Posted Dec 7, 2005, 2:53 PM
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Hey with global warming, Coney Island may yet become the next bahamas.
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Old Posted Jan 25, 2006, 12:50 AM
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NY POST

BEACH VOLLEYBALL TO HIT B'KLYN

By TIM ARANGO
January 24, 2006

The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and its mix of bikinis, surf and sand will descend on New York City for the first time this summer.

AVP is joining forces with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment — an affiliate of Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner's New Jersey Nets ownership group Nets Sports and Entertainment — to bring the tour to Brooklyn next August and will build a 4,000 seat stadium on Coney Island.

Pro beach volleyball has grown from a fledgling player's association in the 1980s to a big business today — with top players able to rake in almost a half million dollars a year from prize money and endorsements.

Under former sports agent Leonard Armato, CEO of the AVP, the tour has increased revenue from about $1 million in 2001 to just under $15 million last year and has attracted numerous corporate sponsors, such as Bud Light, Gatorade, McDonald's and Xbox.

In 2006, the tour will host 16 events and hand out a combined $3.5 million in prize money.
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Old Posted Nov 1, 2006, 12:51 PM
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NEW YORK MAGAZINE



An early sketch of Sitt's Coney Island resort, complete with landing pad for blimps.




An early conceptual rendering of the shopping, entertainment, and hotel complex real-estate mogul Joe Sitt wants to build in Coney Island. (Photo credit: Joshua Lutz)
____________________________________________

And the visions change again....(NY Post)

NEW-WAVE CONEY
BEACH BUM TO SURF CITY


By RICH CALDER
October 31, 2006

Here's a sneak peek at Coney Island's glamorous future.

Architectural renderings obtained by The Post show a grand vision of the famed summer amusement area's rundown streets being transformed into a glitzy year-round playground and public attraction.

In one image, Stillwell Avenue becomes a fantasy-filled boulevard marked by larger-than-life street furniture, such as a mermaid swimming in a martini glass and a gigantic tattooed elephant.

The landmark Cyclone roller coaster can still be seen from down Bowery Street - which itself is reinvented as a permanent festival and sideshow area.

Thor Equities has purchased 10 acres of boardwalk land in the hope of building a $1.5 billion entertainment destination.

The project is awaiting city approval, but the company hopes to break ground in 18 months and wrap up in about five years.



____________________________________________

CITY BOOST FOR A 'GLITZY' CONEY

By RICH CALDER
November 1, 2006

City officials who control the future of Coney Island say the latest renderings for a $1.5 billion, Vegas-glitz amusement area around the boardwalk are right on track.

Joshua Sirefman, interim president of the city's Economic Development Corp., said developer Thor Equities' latest proposal shows "the right kind of energy that we've always talked about for Coney Island."

____________________________________________

curbed.com

The Coney Island Vision We Couldn't Make Up




Now that mall-builder Thor Equities is making some moves on its Coney Island properties, we'd really love to know what the latest plans for the area look like. We've been through so many renderings and announcements, we have no clue what the thing will actually look like in 10 years, besides being some sort of dystopian pleasuredome. And did somebody say dystopian pleasuredome?! Because the Post got their hands on a couple of the latest images, and if they are to be believed, we will all soon be entertained by giant phalluses of light beamed into the cosmos and, uh, "a fantasy-filled boulevard marked by larger-than-life street furniture, such as a mermaid swimming in a martini glass and a gigantic tattooed elephant." Oh, and dudes dressed as Batman and paintings of witches with pumpkins for asses. Get into it
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2006, 2:44 PM
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holy shit!!!
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Old Posted Nov 7, 2006, 4:25 PM
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I love the old steeplechase ride. I wonder how many people got injured on that.
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Old Posted Nov 7, 2006, 4:28 PM
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Here is a (old?) proposal...


This is from http://www.eekarchitects.com











Coney Island Redevelopment

Brooklyn, New York Redevelopment of 10-acre site into a mixed-use entertainment complex which will include residential, hotel, retail and a new waterpark. This redevelopment fits into the master plan as developed by the Coney Island Development Corporation.
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Old Posted Nov 7, 2006, 4:35 PM
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Proposal for the Coney Island Aquarium...


More Coney Island Aquarium Redo Renderings





Wednesday, November 1, 2006

After yesterday's publication of a couple of more "visions" of the future Coney Island in all of its odd dystopian glory, the additional renderings and models from one of the finalists vying to redesign the butt ugly utilitarian New York Aquarium are almost a breath of fresh air. (At least, there are no mermaids with pumpkins on their asses.) It may or may not win and get built, but they're pretty cool. This is the propsal from WRT and Cloud9. More images after the jump if you click through.

Aquarium Design Proposal

BONUS: The city digs the Thor Coney vision. Coney Island Development Corp. interim president Joshua Sirefman tells the Post their latest renderings "show the right kind of energy that we've always talked about for Coney Island." But, Coney blogger Kinetic Carnival says they look like "lesser quality rejects" of drawings mistakenly released this summer and a "rehash."


Copyright © 2006 Curbed
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Old Posted Nov 8, 2006, 1:00 AM
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Yeah, that aquarium proposal has a life of its own...
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 3:08 PM
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NY Sun

A $1.5 Billion Vision For Coney Island

By DAVID LOMBINO
November 13, 2006




A developer, Thor Equities, says it wants to spend $1.5 billion to rebuild Coney Island and reinvigorate its amusement zone. New plans include building a roller coaster that the developer says would be the first built since the Cyclone opened in 1927.


Even on a bright fall day, the streets that make up Coney Island's amusement district seem worn and tired, more tumbleweeds than tourists. While the area boasts an original circus-like charm, born of colorful characters who congregate there, even old-timers agree it needs a major facelift.

The founder of the nonprofit Coney Island USA, Richard Zigun, blames the area's decay on a handful of property owners who "were wealthy enough to sit on their property for 20 or 30 years and wait."

"They did not give a damn about the amusement industry," Mr. Zigun said.

But the city's prolonged real estate boom is reaching Brooklyn's southern edge, and over the past two or three years, dozens of parcels in the amusement district have changed hands, opening up the possibility for new development.

"This is the best shot Coney Island has had in 50 years," he said. "Hopefully, we will get something fantastic, something world-class."

The biggest buyer is developer Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities. He has spent more than $100 million to assemble more than a dozen balkanized parcels along the boardwalk, close to the subway station.

Thor wants to spend $1.5 billion to restore the amusement district to its former glory, transforming it from a place to spend a summer afternoon into a year-round destination, and giving it the feel of Las Vegas, Orlando, or Atlantic City.

New designs drawn up by the architectural firm Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn depict Thor's futuristic vision. A new roller coaster would dart in and out of new buildings along Stillwell Avenue, the first roller coaster in New York City since the Cyclone opened in 1927, according to the developer. Opposite the subway station, Thor is planning a vertical ride to the top of a 150-foot-high water tower that would be decorated with flickering holograms of whales and mermaids.

Where Stillwell Avenue meets the boardwalk, the developer wants to build a giant indoor water park and a three-story, glass-enclosed carousel. All the rides would be winterized. They would also be integrated with a movie theater, arcades, retail stores, and with existing attractions, like the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, and the Parachute Drop. Thor Equities would lease out the rides or find an operating partner to run the amusements.


The plan has a catch. Thor says it needs the city to enact a zoning change to allow residential and hotel development in the amusement district.

Thor wants to build as many as four towers on its site, comprising two hotels, a time-share, and an apartment building that could rise up to 40 stories.

In the early 1970s, in an attempt to save the amusements, the city rezoned the area to forbid residential development, which it said threatened to chase the rides, games, and shows out of town. Now the developer is arguing that the profit from the residential development is the way to fund the area's regeneration.

A spokesman for Thor Equities, Lee Silberstein, said, "The problem with amusements is that they don't make money. There is a reason why people stopped building them. They are too expensive and too seasonal. That is part of the reason why we want to do residential."

Currently, Coney Island attracts visitors for about five months a year, from April to mid-September. To be profitable, the amusements would need to operate year-round. The developer hopes the apartments and hotels will enliven the area and make it safer with a permanent human presence.

The city is working on rezoning and design recommendations. Following additional public outreach, it hopes to put a plan through the land use review process next year. The developer is planning to prepare the 10-acre site for construction and they hope to open in 2010 or 2011. Some of the amusement operators in the Thor development footprint were forced to close up shop this year, and others will stay open for one more summer season.

Mr. Zigun, who also sits on the board of the city's Coney Island Development Corporation, said hotels would be a welcome addition, but said he is dead set against condominiums in the heart of the amusement district. He said he's not looking for a fight, but "a polite, intelligent discussion."

Mr. Zigun, who has tattoos poking out from under his jacket sleeves, said Coney Island is best preserved for "those with money who want to get drunk, stay out late," tendencies, he said, that only a non-resident would have.

"Put the loud places here, the things that don't belong in other neighborhoods," Mr. Zigun said.

While some critics have said Thor's designs are too glitzy, Mr. Zigun envisions something like Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Orlando, Fla., and Atlantic City, N.J., jazzy, modern, and fantastical, as opposed to a "suburban glass façade," or an area dominated by mall-like retail stores. Thor changed earlier plans for a mall after residents and city officials complained.

The project architect, Stanton Eckstut, said the design would not be a replica of old-fashioned Coney Island style.

"We don't want to do something based on a frozen moment in time," he said. "We want to make it feel like part of the evolution of Coney's past, but we are not doing a historic reproduction."


Mr. Eckstut helped create plans for Battery Park City and Brooklyn's Metrotech.

Mr. Zigun said any specific plans for Thor's site are likely to change over the next year, as the rezoning evolves and the developer negotiates with the community about preserving certain landmarks, and the height and makeup of the new buildings.

"I'm not one of the people who says no-go on Vegas. You can build Brooklyn's Times Square at the beach," he said. "Before you know it, you will be able to have a Starbucks latte at the beach, and hopefully a giant roller coaster you can throw up on."
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2006, 5:44 PM
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2006, 4:09 AM
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This is going to be amazing. Will there ever be a reason to leave the City again?

Those renderings seem to go in line with what was stated in the article:

Quote:
New designs drawn up by the architectural firm Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn depict Thor's futuristic vision. A new roller coaster would dart in and out of new buildings along Stillwell Avenue, the first roller coaster in New York City since the Cyclone opened in 1927, according to the developer. Opposite the subway station, Thor is planning a vertical ride to the top of a 150-foot-high water tower that would be decorated with flickering holograms of whales and mermaids.

Where Stillwell Avenue meets the boardwalk, the developer wants to build a giant indoor water park and a three-story, glass-enclosed carousel. All the rides would be winterized.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2006, 1:43 AM
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Daily News

Hopes soar for Coney coaster



Futuristic plan for Coney Island's redevelopment envisions new roller coaster twisting over Boardwalk.


Hold on to your hats, Coney Island fans.

A new state-of-the-art roller coaster could someday be weaving between buildings and bulleting along Coney's famed Boardwalk.

With more than 4,000 feet of swirling steel tracks, the yet-unnamed coaster would soar above Stillwell Ave. and spiral along the Boardwalk at breakneck speeds.


The coaster, which would be an instant rival to Coney's classic Cyclone, is part of a massive redevelopment plan by Thor Equities, which has bought property in the Brooklyn amusement mecca.

"In its heyday, Coney Island always had the biggest, best, most futuristic attractions in the world," said Thor Equities spokesman Lee Silberstein.

"As envisioned, the new coaster will be the ride of a lifetime and will propel Coney Island into the next phase of its life," Silberstein said.

Thor's $1.5 billion vision for Coney would add residential, retail, entertainment and other amusement components, including an indoor water park and a glassed-in carousel. The proposal still needs city approval.

Designers at the Switzerland-based amusement firm Intamin AG are devising a plan that would allow the tracks to be extended if it's decided later that the coaster should be bigger.

Folks walking along the Boardwalk yesterday mostly praised the idea for a new coaster, though some said they feared the high-tech ride would ruin the area's honky-tonk feel.

"This will surpass any roller coaster out now," said retiree Tyrone Scott, 67. "I haven't been on a roller coaster in five years, but I'd try it if it goes slow."

Mike Alvarado, 50, said no to slow: He wants to see a coaster that hangs upside down, swirls and soars high above the Boardwalk.

"They should build it," said Alvarado, 50, a counselor who lives in Marine Park, Brooklyn. "It would bring more business and people. It should be like the kind at Great Adventure."


Denise Romano and Jotham Sederstrom
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  #20  
Old Posted Nov 21, 2006, 10:18 AM
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wow... brooklyn is changing so quickly. The Atlantic Yards proposal by Gehry and now this ridiculous explosion of whatever the fuck it is. Brooklyn doesn't need a Time's Square knock off; leave that up to cities like Toronto. (haha)
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