Why Neither Bloomberg or Sitt's Coney Island Redevelopment plans Will Create Any Amusements

 

JOE SITT'S ORIGINAL PLAN
A $1.5 billion resort that would have brand new amusements, a water park, a hotel, retail shopping, and condos. The condos would be used to finance the entertainment and amusements. Thousands of jobs would be created.
WHAT HE WAS NOT SAYING
Sitt's company Thor Equities only owns a patchwork of properties with some property holders refusing to sell while others claim that Sitt has yet to approach them. He would need the city to enforce eminent domain on his behalf. He would need the city to transfer to him park property which is currently being used by the parks department for the New York Aquarium parking lot. City streets within the resort would have to be demapped and removed. The original rendering of his resort showed a single hotel building shaped like the Atlantis which he claimed would be just as fancy as the Bellagio in Vegas. It is very likely to attract patrons to such a resort he would need the beach in front privatized and fenced off so that the only access was through the hotel property. He would also have needed the landmarked rides Wonder Wheel and Cyclone removed, either moved to another location by the city or their landmark protection status revoked and the rides torn down. He would also need to tear down the original Nathan's. The water park would be part of the hotel, built by the operator of the hotel, and most likely only available to hotel guests as per other hotel resorts with built in water parks. Only one ride would be built by Thor Equities, a carousel. The rest would be independent concessions invited to operate in the resort who would pay for the construction of their own amusements.
WHAT HE WOULD NEED
Once Thor had the property needed to build the resort he would need mixed zoning. The zoning he was asking for allowed residential use from the second floor up and either retail or amusement use on the ground floor. This, Sitt claimed, would allow him to build an indoor mall that had a combination of amusements and retail. He also needed a variance on height restrictions on buildings in the neighborhood. Currently the maximum height is five stories on any new construction. Sitt wanted initially 50 stories on his buildings. Once all this was achieved he would then need to find investors willing to pay the $1 -$2 billion in construction costs.
WHY IT WOULD NOT WORK
Assuming the city did deliver on everything Sit would need, the zoning, the property, turning over public properties, demolition of historic rides and buildings, and allowing 50 story buildings. And assuming that Sitt did not really have plans to sell the property at profit to another developer first chance he got as he had done at Albee Square, then he would still have to find at least $1 billion in investments. This would mean that once investments were made he would be at best one tenth partner ( 10% partner ) in the project. This would mean that Thor equities would not be in charge of the corporation formed to build the resort. Since investors usually want to maximize their returns the could and probably would outvote Thor and change plans to build condos only. Condos sell better when in a private setting, not above noisy amusement parks. By simply building space for a single store on each building they will have fulfilled any requirements for ground floor retail. Even if his investment partners decide to make good on allowing ground floor amusements that would not include those who eventually buy the condos. Since the plan was to build any amusements using money generated from condo sales there is a possibility that on the books the resort sees no profit once investors remove their cut of the profits. Should the resort run into problems and construction costs run over, or the condos not sell as planned then there would be no left over profits for amusements. And since the condos would be sold first that gives the new condo owners the right to vote on what businesses would be allowed in their building. Neither Thor nor their partners would have any say at that point. Most likely the new condo owners would veto any businesses that attract crowds of teenagers. They would also have the right to neuter any remaining rides or businesses in the neighborhood within 200 feet of their building if they decide it is a nuisance. This would include any business with flashing light, loudspeakers, loud noises, or the ability to attract unruly crowds. Once they complained the city would be obligated to take legal steps to remedy their complaints which would most likely mean closing any remaining amusements that would now be in a legal residential neighborhood. A huge incentive for condo owners doing this would be that the end result would increase the value of their condos. The thousands of jobs the resort would create will be significantly lower should it turn into a residential project. It is far more likely that any jobs created would go to outside residents with experience instead of the local community.

BLOOMBERG'S ORIGINAL PLAN
Rezone the Western half of Coney Island for condos with ground floor entertainment. Rezone the property lining Surf Avenue for ground floor stores with studio apartments above. Preserve the Eastern amusement zone. Build amenities including a bigger aquarium, an ocean pier, more boardwalk pavilions, a bike path, and convert Stillwell into a pedestrian walkway. An amusement plaza would be created around the base of the Parachute Jump to where the B+B Carousel that the city had just purchased and was restoring would be moved to.
WHAT HE WAS NOT SAYING
The city would be selling off park property to condo developers, the real reason for interest in redeveloping Coney. To do this parkland designation would have to be moved to a different land mass of the same size. The plan was to move park designation onto property they were about to size from local businessman Horace Bullard who had failed to pay his back property taxes. Some of that property would also be sold off to condo developers. A new road would be cut through the amusement area to accommodate people moving into the condos. this would bring heavy traffic into the heart of the amusement area.
WHAT HE WOULD NEED
State funds to build the park amenities and approval to move park land designation.
WHY IT WOULD NOT WORK
See for yourself. The plan fell apart long before Bloomberg was prepared to implement it. All it took was one greedy developer. using inside information he bought up all available property on the West side and sold it once rezoning was announced. He then purchased property on the East side and demanded residential zoning in that area as well or he would allow his land to sit fallow making any development impossible. Sitt sold his property in the West end to Taconic who in turn are refusing to build ground floor entertainment.

SITT'S SECOND PLAN
A $2 billion that would consist of four towers, one having a hotel with time shares the other four luxury condos. An amusement park would be built on the Astroland site that would either be a two tiered amusement park with modern rides, or could possibly be a ground floor amusement center inside a building that would be a second hotel. There would be a water slide on Stillwell as well as a steel coaster that weaved in and out of the buildings.
WHAT HE WAS NOT SAYING
Pretty much the same thing he was not saying about the first plan.
WHAT HE WOULD NEED
Pretty much the same thing as the first plan and it would require the same exact zoning.
WHY IT WOULD NOT WORK
The same reasons as his first plan

SITT'S THIRD PLAN
Same as second but now with more rides that Thor would agree to build. Instead of condos Thor would build four towers which would now be hotels with time shares. Far more decorations around the side of the building to make the first few floors look festive.
WHAT HE WAS NOT SAYING
He was asking for the same zoning as the first plan and was asking for the right to convert the buildings into condos should the hotels fail.
WHAT HE WOULD NEED
Pretty much the same thing as the first two plans.
WHY IT WOULD NOT WORK
Same reasons as the first plan. The zoning would be exactly the same meaning even after promising to build hotels the end result would be condos the city could not stop from being built. But add on to that the hotels. His own survey said that for hotels in his resort to turn a profit they would have to rent out rooms at $300 per night at 70% occupancy year round. Experts had doubted that the one hotel could do this with one hotel, now he would have four hotels competing against each other. This meant that the hotels were almost sure to fail.

BLOOMBERG'S SECOND PLAN
Move park designation from the Keyspan Stadium parking lot over to the amusement area which would protect it against further development. Create a 15 acre amusement park with new rides built by an operator to be brought in later. Condos with some ground floor retail to the West and a road to be cut through the amusement area to accommodate the residents of those buildings. A hotel with public water park. A new outdoor ice skating rink at the base of the Wonder Wheel.
WHAT HE WAS NOT SAYING
The out door ice skating rink would replace an amusement park and the world famous Spookarama ride. Other rides would be replaced by an outdoor theater. Most of the amusements would be replaced with urban entertainment such as bowling alleys and movie theaters. There would be no Steeplechase Plaza amusement center at the request of Taconic who did not want to have to sell condos next to an active amusement park.
WHAT HE WOUL NEED
State Approval and the 15 acres
WHY IT WOULD NOT WORK
The parking lot had been leased to the Wilpons for the next 20 years and they did not want to give it up. Breaking the lease would allow them to move their baseball team to another city, and other cities are interested. As had been seen Sitt found powerful friends to block the moving of park designation to his property. Even if park designation was moved onto the amusement area it would be of little protection. The parking lot the city is trying to sell to Taconic was originally bought with amusement parks on it for the reason of protecting that section of Coney Island from developers using parkland designation. It did not stop the parks department from evicting the rides, or Giuliani from using it to build a baseball stadium and parking lot, or Bloomberg trying to sell it to Taconic to build condos. And there is no money in the budget to build the new rides so that land could sit vacant for decades much like what happened at Flushing Meadow's World's Fair area.

BLOOMBERGS COMPROMISE PLAN
Nine acres of rides protected by parkland status. Ground floor entertainment retail. Four hotels.
WHAT HE WAS NOT SAYING
The 9 acre park for amusements would have only two amusements, the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone which can not be legally torn down. Of the 9 acres 2 acres would be used as public roadways, 1 acre for boardwalk businesses such as fast food restaurants and bars, 2 acres for the ice skating rink and outdoor theater, 2 acres for the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, and 2 acres for parking.
WHAT HE WOULD NEED
State approval and the 9 acres.
WHY IT WOULD NOT WORK
Same reasons as the second plan. Aside from that there is no way to enforce entertainment retail as it has yet to be defined. Coney Island could end up as a common mall area only drawing business from surrounding neighborhoods and would lose it's status as a tourist attraction.

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

brimancandy profile image

brimancandy 6 years ago from Northern Michigan

Interesting. We used to have an amusement park in Grand Rapids Michigan at reeds lake called Ramona Park. And guess what. It was demolished to build residential property for the rich. There is a small strip of businesses called gaslight village that is left over from that era.

But, wether or not people still believe it has historic value is a big question. It's certainly no Coney Island, but, it met the same fate for all the same reasons.

Too many owners, too many willing to sell.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working