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NYguy Nov 28, 2006 4:58 PM

NY Post


November 27, 2006

If Coney Islanders have their way, City Hall won't block a developer's $1.5 billion bid to transform the rundown summer amusement area into a year-round public attraction.

The results of a recent survey, exclusively obtained by The Post, reveal that nearly 76 percent of area residents do not want city officials to block "a $1.5 billion investment in Coney Island to expand amusement attractions and bring new restaurants and retail outlets to the community."

While the 42-question poll never mentions Thor Equities by name, that question and many others deal with the kind of project that the developer wants to build along 10 acres of boardwalk property between West 12th and West 15th streets.

The city's Economic Development Corp. declined to comment. The project would require various zoning changes.

Other results of the poll also bode well for Thor, which commissioned the phone survey of 400 Coney Island-vicinity residents by the Alexandria, Va.-based firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.

The survey found most residents in favor of every type of amenity that Thor wants to bring to Coney Island. New construction "on or near the boardwalk," for example, should feature restaurants - according to 81.8 percent of those polled.

The survey also found overwhelming support for hotels (80.5 percent), movie theaters (78.7 percent), more amusements/rides (76.3 percent), retail stores (74.8 percent), and a "limited amount" of residential housing (62.2 percent).

NYguy Nov 28, 2006 5:01 PM

NY Post


November 28, 2006

The developer looking to build a Las Vegas-glitz entertainment complex in Coney Island kicked off a massive ad blitz yesterday aimed at swaying public opinion toward supporting the $1.5 billion project, The Post has learned.

Thor Equities began mailing Brooklyn residents the first of five newsletters pitching its vision for transforming the rundown summer amusement area into a year-round public attraction.

Spokesman Lee Silberstein said the developer also planned to launch a Web site and to advertise in newspapers.

"Coney Island has a glorious past but fell onto hard times," the mailer reads. "It's our goal to bring it back."

Thor wants to erect a hotel, stores, housing, new rides, an indoor water park, a multilevel carousel, and a 4,000-foot-long roller coaster that would weave around the 10 acres of boardwalk property that the developer purchased between West 12th and West 15th streets.

The project would require various city zoning changes and would have to pass public review.

NYguy Nov 29, 2006 1:46 AM


Coney Island's Astroland sold to developer

November 28, 2006

NEW YORK -- The vintage Astroland Amusement Park, one of the anchors of Coney Island since its 1962 opening, was purchased Tuesday by a developer intent on restoring the Brooklyn beachfront as a $1.5 billion year-round resort.

The Albert family, owners of the well-known park, will close the 3.1-acre attraction at the end of the 2007 summer season under the deal reached with Thor Equities.
The Alberts will continue to operate the landmark Cyclone roller-coaster, which turns 80 next year, under an existing agreement with the city.

The decision to sell was "very difficult and made only after months of extensive discussion," said Carol Hill Albert, co-owner of Astroland with husband Jerome. The park was launched by her late father-in-law, Dewey Albert.

In the end, the cost of converting Astroland to a year-round operation was too steep. The family had turned down larger bids last year "in the hope of finding an alternative that would enable us to keep our current location," Albert said _ but it didn't pan out.

Thor Equities plans a $1.5 billion, year-round facility in Coney Island. Although no price was given for the Astroland purchase, Thor had already spent $100 million snapping up properties along the venerable boardwalk.

Thor's plans include a mix of amusements and attractions, including a new roller coaster and a new hotel to accommodate the anticipated arrival of new tourists.

The site of the amusement park is renowned for another reason. Local legend has it that restaurateur Charles Feltman invented the hot dog there in 1874.

The Alberts, although they sold their property to Thor, retained ownership of attractions like the water flume and the Astrotower in hopes of adding some new rides and relocating to another section of the neighborhood.

The amusement park employs about 300 workers every summer, and Albert was hopeful that city and Brooklyn officials could help with relocation costs.

"The Albert family is proud to have provided so many wonderful memories for so many generations and to have been such an important part of New York's world famous Coney Island," Albert said.

NYguy Nov 29, 2006 6:03 PM

Daily News

Astroland's swan song
Coney landmark sold, will close in '07


It's the last ride for Astroland as New Yorkers know it.

A big-bucks developer bought up the gritty Brooklyn amusement park yesterday in its bid to turn Coney Island into a sparkling new $1.5 billion year-round resort.

The 2007 summer season will be Astroland's last under the plan, which would leave the historic landmark Cyclone roller coaster intact.

Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert sold the 3-acre Astroland site to developer Joseph Sitt's Thor Equities for an unspecified amount.

"It's not something we're happy about; it's sad," said Albert, whose family has owned the legendary park since 1962. "It was the only logical alternative to going out of business altogether."

The park purchase is the latest land grab by Thor for its plan to add residential, retail, entertainment and other all-weather amusement components to Coney Island. Brooklyn-born Sitt has reportedly laid out more than $100 million so far.

Albert said she hopes to relocate some of the rides like the Tilt-A-Whirl and Tea Cups elsewhere along the Boardwalk.

Even if Albert is able to relocate rides like the Pirate Ship, Top Spin and the Scrambler, one of the most popular, the Astrotower, will have to leave Coney Island for good.

"That I can't move," said Albert, who noted it would cost as much as $400,000 to move the 200-foot, World's Fair era attraction. "You can put it on eBay for me."

Thor spokesman Lee Silberstein said the famed Cyclone roller coaster, which sits on city land, would not change hands and would continue to be operated by Albert. The rest of Astroland would be cleared for new rides and an indoor entertainment complex, but Silberstein declined to reveal specific plans.

Thor also envisions luxury condos, and turning Stillwell Ave. into a tree-lined pedestrian mall filled with cafes and shops. "We're thinking totally outside of the box," said Silberstein. "We're thinking something spectacular that would be really great for New York City."

Reaction was mixed in Coney Island yesterday, although Brooklyn politicos have generally supported Thor's plans.

"I can't believe they're going to close this place down," said Will Paraison, 28, of Canarsie. "When you say Brooklyn, everyone knows Coney Island and Astroland. It's one of Brooklyn's symbols."

"It's not going to be Coney Island the way I know Coney Island," said Florence Yorrie, 42, who lives nearby. "They're going to make it nice."

ArchWatcher Dec 1, 2006 9:06 PM

too gawdy:(
i like the old postcards a lot

ArchWatcher Dec 1, 2006 9:09 PM

the aquarium is neat
wtf is the whale building?

roner Dec 5, 2006 7:58 AM

Whoa! When did developers start dropping acid and following the Dr. Seuss guide to entertainment? Party On Coney Island!:banana:

NYguy Dec 28, 2006 12:37 PM

NY Post


December 28, 2006

The developer planning a $2 billion face lift for Coney Island's amusement area is close to a deal to buy a well-known local Italian restaurant - so he can use the site for luxury housing, sources told The Post yesterday.

Gargiulo's Restaurant, a Coney Island institution since 1903, could be relocated a few blocks away to the proposed larger boardwalk project, a Vegas-style entertainment area between West 12th and West 15th streets.

Developer Thor Equities last month bought the Astroland amusement park and hopes to replace it with a theme hotel and spectacular new rides.

The overall project would include other hotels, stores, housing, an indoor water park, a multilevel carousel, and a 4,000-foot-long roller coaster.

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

NYguy Dec 28, 2006 1:05 PM

Brooklyn Papers

Circus may parade into Coney Island

Zaïda (upside down) and Aumor of the Big Apple Circus may soon be showing off their skills in Coney Island.

By Dana Rubinstein

Running away to the circus might soon be as easy as taking the D train to Stillwell Avenue if Coney Island real-estate magnate Joseph Sitt has his way.

The Big Apple Circus has confirmed that it met recently with Sitt’s Thor Equities to discuss incorporating the circus into the $2-billion condo-and-amusement neighborhood Sitt has proposed for the dozen-odd acres of Boardwalk-front property he owns in the neighborhood.

“There was one very preliminary exploratory meeting a couple of months ago,” said Joel Dein, a Big Apple spokesman.

Dein emphasized that a potential relationship with Thor would not undermine Lincoln Center’s status as the circus’s home base.

Thor has also reportedly been talking to Nickelodeon and Disney about collaborating on the beachfront development, although those reports could not be confirmed.

Coney Island insiders this week applauded the idea of the Big Apple on the Boardwalk, saying the circus would fit as nicely into the community as a sword down a freak-show performer’s throat.

“As long as you’re bringing in amusement operators, rather than shopping malls and condos, bring it on!” said Dick Zigun, who runs Coney Island’s legendary Sideshow.

“There traditionally were circuses at Steeplechase, Dreamland and Luna Park,” added Zigun. “The circuses scattered when the amusement parks closed.”

Michael Immerso, the author of the authoritative history of the entertainment community, agreed —though he warned that Coney Island’s entertainment diversity must be preserved.

“One would hope that Thor would also reach out to more cutting-edge local entertainment visionaries,” said Immerso, author of “Coney Island, the People’s Playground.”

“If you [relocate] the same things you could find at Times Square, then you don’t have Coney Island, you just have American pop culture transplanted in Coney Island.”

As The Brooklyn Papers has reported, Sitt has been snapping up land in Coney Island for more than a year. With his purchase of the famed, but dilapidated, Astroland last month, he now owns 13 acres of prime real estate between West 10 and 15th streets on which to build his restaurant, hotel, amusement, condo and retail complex.

Even if Coney Island doesn’t end up with the circus, circus-goers can still get a taste of Coney Island.

This season, the Big Apple Circus is featuring a show called “Amusement Resort by the Sea,” which focuses on Coney Island in the early 20th century and promises “rollicking rides and awesome arcades, the boisterous barker and surprising sideshows.”

Dein called the show’s timing “coincidental.”

NYguy Jan 3, 2007 8:08 AM

Courier-Life Publications

Q & A with Coney Island mega-developer

By Stephen Witt

With much of the Coney Island amusement park area now in control of Joseph J. Sitt, the principal of Thor Equities, his company has become a major player in the redevelopment of the entire borough.

Among the firm’s other holdings are the former Revere Sugar factory site in Red Hook, the Albee Square Mall on Fulton Street, and the garage building on Bond and Livingston streets.

Sitt is originally from South Brooklyn and continues to have many ties in the borough.

Recently, Courier-Life Publications sat down with Sitt in his Manhattan office to talk about his plans for Brooklyn, and Coney Island and Red Hook in particular.

Also present was Lee Silberstein of the public relations firm the Marino Organization.

During the course of the interview, Silberstein made several points as a clarification.


People in the borough are on pins and needles regarding your submission of a project plan for Coney Island. When is that coming and can you offer any more details regarding height, density and the amount of residential housing you will incorporate in the plan? What type of zoning changes are you looking for?

Sitt: We’re in the process right now of a mixed-use plan. Our goals will be a combination of retail/ amusement/entertainment. It will include a hotel component and a residential component.

The mix is driven by several factors. One of the largest problems Coney Island has right now is it’s dead most of the year and it’s a scary neighborhood late at night almost all year long because of the lack of people present there.

In our plan, one of our goals is to include a residential and hotel component that will create that 24/7 activity 365 days a year so that there’ll be constant activity which is what creates the vitality for areas and developments like this cause you have people there, and in the case of the hotel, transient activity — people coming and going.

So the goal is to have a mixed-use project of all three of those components and we think by having all three of these components we’ll make this into a really important destination location where people want to be, people want to sleep, people want to vacation, people want to visit, people want to own a second location.

So when are we going to see an actual plan and not art renderings?

Silberstein: We’ve been doing that the last few years. We’ve been meeting with the city officials and the CIDC [Coney Island Development Corporation]. And in fact there is a plan that we’ve been sharing with the city officials and we’ve been getting feedback on and we continue to wait for them to take it to the next level.

Sitt: We have to wait for the government. It’s not in our hands [to rezone].

Silberstein: To be clear, we have a plan. We have a book with all the specifics and the city is doing a larger rezoning and so our plan is now becoming a component of their overall plan.

So when are we going to see your plan?

Sitt: As soon as the city decides on what they’re willing to live with.

So you’re saying you have a plan and the city has it, but it’s not in public review yet until the city rezones the area?

Silberstein: The time the public gets to review a plan like that is in the ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] process. We want it to be in the ULURP process already. We were hoping that we would have been certified with the ULURP already. We were hoping they would have finished a year ago already.

So it’s not a question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In other words, the plan or the zoning change?

Sitt: I don’t know who you’re hearing what from. The city has a plan. We submitted a plan. The city knows exactly what we’re looking for and we’re waiting for them.

Taconic [Developers] owns nearly as much as we have in Coney Island and they haven’t even begun thinking about putting a pencil to paper, because they are saying they don’t want to spend that energy until they see the city go ahead and do the rezoning.

So it’s not the chicken or the egg. It’s the city or the city. The city’s in control. We then fill in the blanks. We’ve done our master plan work, but we’ll have to modify to fit in with what the city does.

Many preservationists in Coney Island are wondering about the amusement part. Among the question on their lips is will the amusement area be modeled after a Disneyland or Six Flags where people pay one price to get in or will it remain a free-flowing amusement park as it always has been?

Sitt: So far the plan is the free-flowing [amusement area] and we really don’t have a choice. I don’t know how to enclose all that to have a Disney-type theme park with one control point or access point. We’re more urban and Coney Island, so we’re more free-flowing.

Others in Coney Island question whether the residential component will include some affordable housing?

In terms of residential, our goal is not necessarily just year-round residents.

A lot of our residential we hope are going to be folks on time share, folks that come and buy like two weeks out of the year and/or some second homeowners like they do at a lot of resort and vacation spots, but the biggest part that make up where people sleep is going to be the transient folks — people who sleep in the hotels and/or the time shares, as an example.

There’s no rule that says sorry, you are too wealthy to come visit Coney Island and sleep in a hotel. Part of democracy is you want anybody at any income level to welcome them to be able to sleep in Coney Island.

Moving to Red Hook, what are your plans for the former Revere Sugar Factory, which you are in the process of having demolished?

Sitt: Unlike Coney Island where for two years we’ve been submitting to the city plans, we’ve not submitted any plans so we’re still on the ground floor but we’re working on getting there.

Silberstein: When we went through the process of removing it from the business zone, we made a promise to the community that we were going to come back and work with them in developing a plan. We’re in the process of doing that.

The former Sugar factory site is in the mouth of the Erie Basin where several businesses for maritime use are located. How do you expect residents to live with that and will it force business out?

Sitt: Nothing has been there [on the Revere Sugar site] to move out for 30 years. It’s been vacant. It was owned by Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.

Silberstein: The opportunity for the waterfront, as the mayor said the other day, is to reopen it. Recreate public access to it and introduce new uses. The other side to that coin is to make sure it’s done in a way that allows the mix of uses — some of the maritime stuff that’s there now and some of the new uses.

Sitt: Particularly there in Red Hook. In fact, people keep forgetting in that in the Fairway development, he [developer Greg O’Connell] included lots and lots of residential that have already taken up occupancy and from what I hear none of the residents have been complaining…so it’s a really good test for the future.

So do you anticipate some retail there?

Sitt: Absolutely. Jobs in that community are as important as jobs in Coney Island.

You were among the first of the entrepreneurs to reinvest in inner city America through strip malls and your Ashley Stewart clothing chain. Along with being a developer comes the responsibility of reshaping the borough of Brooklyn. What moral and ethical responsibilities do you feel you have toward the borough and its people in a broader sense?

Sitt: The reason why I’m doing developments in Brooklyn is because I care about my own neighborhood. This is the place I grew up. This is the place I moved back to live.

And though probably 90 percent of the work we do is outside New York, for us Brooklyn is very, very close to our heart and close to our passion.

I feel that Brooklyn is dramatically underserved and I want to see my town get the nice quality stuff that the rest of the United States has.

You go to small communities all over the United States and they’ve got good retail and good office buildings. They’ve got good residential buildings, rental buildings, condominiums, good places for families to go and be entertained and our servings in all these categories are pretty slim.

Silberstein: As of January 1, Joe will have a person who will focus on job development and job programs for the Coney Island project. That is earlier than any developer that I know of. We don’t even have a defined project yet. We certainly don’t have zoning yet and Joe is willing to invest and start creating and developing a jobs program so that the jobs created by the Coney Island project stay in the community.

That is an enormous commitment to the community early on.

©Courier-Life Publications 2007

JManc Jan 4, 2007 11:05 AM

i'm sorry but i'd hate to see coney island transformed into some corporate cheesy vegas knock-off. it's coney island for crying out's not supposed to be glitzy. :no:

NYguy Jan 7, 2007 7:06 AM


Originally Posted by jmancuso (Post 2545411)
i'm sorry but i'd hate to see coney island
transformed into some corporate cheesy vegas knock-off. it's coney island
for crying out's not supposed to be glitzy. :no:

New doesn't mean "glitzy". Coney Island was much, much more than what it
is today. So if we're going to go with the history of what it is, or what
it should be, then that means building the types of developments that this
developer is proposing. People often say they don't want it to turn into
a "Vegas" or "Disney", but its those places that are the knockoffs...

(old Coney)

KCtoBrooklyn Jan 17, 2007 9:36 AM


i'm sorry but i'd hate to see coney island transformed into some corporate cheesy vegas knock-off. it's coney island for crying out's not supposed to be glitzy.
I agree completely. I wouldn't mind them building that glitzy vegas crap on anyother beach in the area, but not Coney. Come on. Have some respect for history.

Coney is one of my favorite spots. I don't think I would ever go that proposed monstrosity.

NYguy Jan 18, 2007 1:03 PM


Originally Posted by KCtoBrooklyn (Post 2569031)
I agree completely. I wouldn't mind them building that glitzy vegas crap on anyother beach in the area, but not Coney. Come on. Have some respect for history.

Maybe you didn't uderstand the post above...

NYguy Jan 18, 2007 1:10 PM

Daily News

Floating visions of new Coney I.
Developers imagine a Vegas-like entertainment destination


A rendering of Thor Equities plans for a Coney Island hub. The firm calls it Stillwell Park.

Hotels, amusement rides, water parks, night clubs, light shows and residential and retail towers as far as the eye can see.

That's the new Coney Island that may begin to emerge this year.

In addition to hundreds of upscale housing units, big-name franchises like Nickelodeon, W Hotel and the House of Blues are being floated as possible components of the revitalization plan, sources familiar with some of the proposals have said.

Add to that a slew of entertainment attractions - including a state-of-the-art roller coaster designed to wind around buildings on Stillwell Ave. - and Coney Island could begin to resemble a Las Vegas on the Atlantic Ocean.

But until the 13-member Coney Island Development Corp. releases its long-awaited master plan, nothing but sand and water is certain for the neighborhood.

"You should have a big question mark over the whole thing," said Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal. "One doesn't know from day to day."

That hasn't stopped two developers from sinking big bucks into their plans.

Taconic Investment Partners, known for residential and office towers in Manhattan and other cities, has scooped up roughly 350,000 square feet of real estate since Coney Island revitalization plans were announced in 2003. Beside hopes of turning the famed Child's Restaurant into a restaurant and catering hall, Taconic has plans for residential and retail buildings on portions of at least six blocks between W. 22nd St. and W. 15th St.

"We've made what we feel is a valid presentation and proposal and we'll be very interested to see how the city responds," said Taconic founder Charles Bendit. "It's kind of like wanting to see how you did on your test in school."

More publicly than Taconic, mega-developer Thor Equities has submitted a $2 billion plan. Thor's proposal could include two hotels, an indoor water park, music venues and loads of glitz.

"Thor Equities is confident that its vision for the future of Coney Island will bring positive change to the neighborhood," said Thor spokesman Lee Silberstein. "Thor looks forward to integrating its strategic plan with that of the city and other real estate developers who are committed to redeveloping Coney."

A third party - longtime Coney Island developer Horace Bullard - also still owns property in the area, but has so far refused to say how he plans to develop it.

"Coney Island's economy really has to be a year-round one to be sustainable," Mayor Bloomberg said in announcing the formation of the Coney Island Development Corp. in 2003. "It can't be just tied to the baseball season or to warm weather."

1. New York-based Taconic Investment Partners hopes to build residential and retail on 100,000 square feet of land on four parcels between W. 16th and 20th Sts. between Mermaid and Surf Aves. Taconic also plans:

* Residential and retail space on 180,000 square feet of land between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk at W. 21st St.

* Child's Restaurant site is being eyed for a high-end catering hall between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk at W. 21st St.

* Residential and retail space on 18,000 square feet between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk at W. 22nd St.

2. A proposed new street, tentatively called Front St., to be built from the Parachute Jump to the Cyclone, spanning roughly 2,400 feet and used primarily as a pedestrian throughway.

3. Bowery St., currently composed of penny arcades, fast food restaurants and small rides, could turn into five blocks of retail and restaurants. Along W. 15th and 16th Sts., however, developer Horace Bullard still owns property and hasn't said publicly what he plans to do with it.

4. Stillwell Ave. south of Surf Ave. would become "Stillwell Walk" and serve as the main thoroughfare of Coney Island, with open-air cafes and retail along a cobblestone street. A 4,000-foot rollercoaster designed by Switzerland-based Intamin AG is also in the works.

5. Called "Splash," this 150-foot observation deck with holographic displays, light shows and water mist, would be the first thing people see upon exiting the Stillwell Ave. subway station. A rooftop beer garden, with views of Brooklyn and the Atlantic Ocean, is also in the works.

6. Anchored by one of two planned hotels, this 75,000- square-foot glass-encased water park would soar eight stories and sit atop a parking garage.

W Hotel and Nickelodeon, among other hoteliers, are in talks, sources said.

7. The second of two hotels planned for Coney Island would sit above an entertainment attraction, which sources said could be a live music venue.

A source close to House of Blues said the franchise was looking seriously at expanding to New York.

8. The former Astroland amusement park would be reimagined as another park, this one glass-enclosed and potentially three stories tall. The Burbank-based Thinkwell Design and Production is currently designing amusement rides.

9. Developer Thor Equities plans to build residential near the Boardwalk between W. 15th St. and Stillwell Walk.

NYguy Jan 25, 2007 2:22 PM

Daily News

B'klyn fun park, by power of Thor
Behold, the future of Coney Island! Soaring gondolas, manmade canals & a mega-coaster part of $250M plan.

Artist renderings for the proposed Coney Park, which is expected to be completed by 2011. The $250 million park will be double the size of Astroland.


Good-bye, Astroland, hello "Coney Island Park."

The big-bucks developer who bought Coney Island's oldest amusement park plans to replace it with a glitzy $250 million playground anchored by a roller coaster that dips under the Boardwalk, the Daily News has learned.

Double the size of Astroland, the multitiered park will include 21 rides, a hotel, a manmade canal for boat rides, a glass-encased atrium and commercial space.

"We're trying to deliver on the promise of what Coney Island is," said Chris Durmick, creative director of Thinkwell Design & Production, the California group that is drawing up the 6-acre plan. "Whatever you come looking for at Coney Island, it's all going to be there."

Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, whose family had owned the gritty but storied park since 1962, sold the site to developer Thor Equities in November for an unspecified amount.

Coney Island Park, slated to open in 2011, would be one component of a 13-acre, $1.5 billion plan by Thor that includes an indoor water park and residential, retail and entertainment components.

The flagship ride is the "Leviathan," a 100-foot-tall coaster with loop-de-loops that dips under the Boardwalk before flying back aboveground.

Including the Cyclone and another coaster planned for Stillwell Ave., it would be the third for the area.

Another marquee ride, the Aviator, would soar 120 feet, with gondolas guided individually by hand-held joysticks.

kenratboy Jan 26, 2007 6:00 AM

Wow, that just HAS to be built! It needs to be Corny, stupid, and wasteful - something totally off the wall that people will grow to love.

I approve.

NYguy Feb 1, 2007 1:00 PM


Originally Posted by kenratboy (Post 2590489)
Wow, that just HAS to be built! It needs to be Corny, stupid, and wasteful - something totally off the wall that people will grow to love.

I approve.

It NEEDS to be is something that will draw people there the entire year, not just the few months anyone goes there now.

Glad you approve.

NYguy Feb 1, 2007 1:02 PM

Daily News


February 1, 2007

Jones Beach could soon be facing stiff competition from Coney Island in attracting A-list performers.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr. are confident they'll convince the city to build a $30 million to $35 million, 5,000-seat amphitheater at Asser Levy Park.

NYguy Feb 1, 2007 1:17 PM

Daily News

Beep sets stage for new venue
Amphitheater push in tonight's speech

February 1, 2007

Marty Markowitz

Creating a world-class summer amphitheater in Coney Island to rival Jones Beach will be one of Brooklyn's top priorities in 2007, Borough President Marty Markowitz said yesterday.

As he prepared to unveil his plans in his State of the Borough address tonight, Markowitz told the Daily News he wants to create a roofed venue at Asser Levy Park, on the spot where he has sponsored concerts since 1991.

"When the major, major summer tours occur ... I propose that Brooklyn - Coney Island - be an additional seasonal concert venue," Markowitz said a day ahead of his speech to be given at the Brooklyn Navy Yard's Steiner Studios.

"I'm going to be making a major investment - and working closely with the Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation - to make this proposal a reality."

The borough president - though often relegated to what Markowitz called being the "chief nudge" - has a capital budget of nearly $58 million for this fiscal year.

The amphitheater would fit well with other developments proposed for Coney Island after a rezoning to occur in the next year, he said.

Markowitz also has other ambitious designs for making Brooklyn a concert mecca.

By revamping Flatbush's long-shuttered Loew's Kings Theatre, Markowitz also hopes to bolster the neighborhood's economy.

"What I envision is the Beacon Theater and the Apollo Theater rolled into one," he said.

The Kings Theatre, which opened in 1929, has stood vacant for 30 years.

In its heyday, the theater hosted up to 3,000 people for movies and vaudeville acts.

Markowitz also hopes to get the ball rolling on creating a new high school dedicated to training students for well-paid careers in advertising.

In addition to new commitments, Markowitz's speech is expected to highlight his notable achievements in the last year, including the inauguration of the Brooklyn Book Festival and the docking of the borough's first cruise ships in Red Hook.

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