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Daquan13 Apr 2, 2007 3:56 AM

I read in the New York Post today that even though everything else may be on the chopping block, the Cyclone Roller Coaster will remain intact and will open yearly has it has done in the past 44 years.

Derek Apr 2, 2007 4:42 AM


Originally Posted by Goody (Post 2725505)
that looks bad ass

it looks like a giant whale sucking in krill...

but i guess its cool:)

NYguy Apr 2, 2007 11:36 AM


Originally Posted by Scruffy (Post 2735520)
The whole plan, the blimp, the giant ferris wheel on a pier, the tower, the cobbled stone street with the year round nightlife, this is all things that are needed and will bring in a new demographic that the park needs to maintain itself in the years to come. Status quo would be a disaster in less than a decade.

That's true. So many people want to leave Coney Island "as is", but that's just not going to work anymore. There's no reason, given it's history, the City should have to settle for things the way they are now. These new developments will go a long way towards bringing Coney Island back to its glory days. And having the attractions open year round instead of just half the year will be great. Imagine going to an active Coney around Christmas time and New Years eve....:tup:

NYguy Apr 3, 2007 11:43 AM

NY Post


April 3, 2007

It's not quite game over for Coney Island's fabled Astroland Park.

Developer Joe Sitt, who bought the 3.1-acre summer amusement park to incorporate into his planned, glitzy, Vegas-style complex, told The Post he's "willing to keep Astroland open" - or some form of it - for at least the 2008 summer season if his project is delayed.

"The last thing I want is for Coney Island to go dark," said Sitt.

On Sunday, Astroland opened for what was expected to be its final season, with Sept. 8 as its scheduled last day.

The developer and City Hall remain at odds over whether Sitt's firm, Thor Equities, should get the green light to include luxury condos in its proposed $2 billion, 10-acre, year-round entertainment project. Without the condos, the developer says the project doesn't make fiscal sense.

The Astroland sale has no effect on the park's most popular ride - the landmarke Cyclone roller coaster.

Scruffy Apr 14, 2007 8:39 AM

The only 3 things from current coney island that should be preserved are the cyclone, the wonder wheel, and the inactive parachute drop. everything else is expendable and i include in that the white up/ down observation tower with the scratched up windows.

NYguy Apr 14, 2007 12:27 PM


Originally Posted by Scruffy (Post 2767070)
The only 3 things from current coney island that should be preserved are the cyclone, the wonder wheel, and the inactive parachute drop. everything else is expendable and i include in that the white up/ down observation tower with the scratched up windows.

The parachute jump is staying. I believe it's a city landmark now...

NYguy Apr 17, 2007 7:46 AM

Huge Coney Island pan from:

-GR2NY- Apr 17, 2007 2:29 PM

Unless the whackos in face-paint are going to be dropping millions to buy that land back, they're SOL. It's the united states, and money talks not clowns. The phrase isn't "clowns talk". Bring on the highrises, coney island is a cluster fuck of apartments as-is, whats the big deal?

Scruffy Apr 18, 2007 1:57 AM

great photo. i love the new coney island station soo much!!

NYguy Jun 18, 2007 11:53 AM

Coney Developer Drops Condo Plan

June 18, 2007

Facing stiff opposition from the city and residents, a developer and major landholder at Coney Island has dropped his plans to build condominiums within the amusement district.

Development company Thor Equities is planning to revamp and modernize the storied amusement destination. Its principal, Joseph Sitt, has said he needed a large condominium tower to make the investment financially viable.

The plan for apartments near the boardwalk prompted a harsh response from the director of the Department of City Planning, Amanda Burden, who vowed to block residential development in the heart of the amusement district.

NYguy Jun 18, 2007 12:06 PM

Coney Island Plan Is Scaled Back, but Critics Are Skeptical

An artist’s rendering of an aerial view of Surf Avenue at Coney Island under a new plan for a renovated amusement complex there.

The developer Joseph J. Sitt’s $1.5 billion plan for Coney Island includes a pulsating amusement area and three hotels, with architecture that invokes the old Luna Park and Dreamland.

June 18, 2007

The developer who wants to remake Coney Island’s amusement district has a new plan and says that you’re going to love it.

Joseph J. Sitt, who says his company has spent $120 million buying up land underneath and around the rides, said on Friday that he had “rolled over” in response to the criticism of his earlier plans for an entertainment and residential complex.

So the looming 40-story tower planned for the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue is gone. So are the hundreds of rental apartments and luxury condominiums in the old plan.
The new proposal is less dense, he said, but has more of “the new, the edgy, and the outlandish” rides and attractions that America’s first resort was once known for.

“This is our way of showing the New York community that we’re responsive to what they want,” said Mr. Sitt, the founder and chief executive of Thor Equities, which buys and develops commercial, residential and retail properties nationwide. “Our design, in all its greatness, is a way of showing the world what Coney Island can be.”

Who could complain?


Robert Lieber, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, described Mr. Sitt’s new plan as a “wolf dressed up as a sheep.” Mr. Lieber, along with neighborhood leaders and other city officials, had expressed fears that residents of new apartment buildings would not fit comfortably with the noisy, all-hours amusement district that would be preserved between West Eighth Street and the Aquarium and the minor league baseball stadium at West 16th Street.

The new plan keeps the concept of a new glass-enclosed water park, but instead of apartments calls for three hotels, including more than 400 time-share units, along with restaurants, shops, movie theaters and high-tech arcades. The latest renderings depict a pulsating entertainment complex with an Elephant Colossus statue and architecture that evokes the old Luna Park and Dreamland amusement parks.

Mr. Lieber and others say that the time-share units look an awful lot like apartments and that the complex looks more like a mall than Coney Island.

“He came in last week and presented a plan that had essentially the same density, but dressed it up with hotels and time shares,” Mr. Lieber said on Friday. “The building heights still exceed the 271-foot Parachute Jump,” a Coney Island landmark. “And he’s looking for a huge subsidy from the city. North of $100 million.”

The city has been working with local residents and property owners for nearly three years on a master plan for what everyone agrees is a dowdy area. The idea, they say, is to preserve the democratic, open-air quality of Coney Island’s culture and amusement district on the south side of Surf Avenue, while allowing for high-rise residential and retail development set apart from the rides, on the north side of Surf.

The Economic Development Corporation, along with the City Planning Department and the Coney Island Development Corporation, have been devising a rezoning proposal for Coney Island that will go through a public review process later this year.

“The community and the Coney Island Development Corporation have all indicated that residential and amusements don’t go together,” said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Community Board 13.

But Mr. Sitt says he believes the changes being proposed are too restrictive and would undercut his ability to redevelop the area.

Everyone agrees that the shrunken hulk of the amusement district is worth preserving, at the edge of a beach that still draws tens of thousands of people on the summer weekends. The question is how to turn it into a year-round attraction.

“Coney Island has changed its faces many times,” Mr. Reichenthal said. “The last Luna Park was in the mid-1940s. Steeplechase came down in the ’60s. But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t remained a magnet. There’s a lot to do when people come down here. It’s still the place for people who don’t have a huge amount of money in their pocket to come and have a good time.”

Mr. Sitt, who is equal parts real estate entrepreneur and supersalesman, has been engaged in a game of chicken with the city over the future of Coney Island. Earlier this year, his team claimed that his project “isn’t a financially feasible investment” without high-rise housing. Over the winter, he knocked down the batting cages and the go-kart park in a move that harked back to the bad old days of empty lots.

Now he has taken the housing, at least all the units labeled apartments, out of his proposal, and he is betting that his new $1.5 billion plan will win the overwhelming support of local residents, if not all the officials at City Hall. The hotels, which range from 25 to 32 stories, have been moved to midblock, away from the Boardwalk.

Mr. Sitt has already spent a large sum buying up 10 acres behind the Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand from 30 different families, including the descendants of George C. Tilyou, founder of Steeplechase Park, and the owners of Astroland, an amusement park that embraces the 270-foot Astro Tower. Astroland is scheduled to close in September. The Cyclone roller coaster, which is a city landmark, will remain open.

Hear his pitch:

The hotels, Mr. Sitt said, would offer black residents not only jobs, but careers. The Russian immigrants, who enjoy a “quality of life and activity by the water,” would flock to the hotels and nightclubs. Jewish and Italian-American residents would get the “quality retail, bookstores and entertainment venues” that they want. As for everyone else, “what’s better than having fabulous restaurants, catering halls, shows and concerts?”

“Tell me, what issue any one of these constituencies would have with our plan,” he said. “We’re asking for motherhood, motherhood. Apple pie, Chevrolet and Coney Island.”

Pause for breath.

“Maybe I sound like a salesman,” Mr. Sitt said, “but I’m passionate about this.”

Jeff Persily, who has worked in the amusement district since 1960 and owns a penny arcade and other property on Bowery Street, agrees with the notion that the amusement area must be turned into a year-round attraction to survive. The city needs to change the zoning to allow for larger buildings, hotels, apartments, parking and retail, he said.

“They have a vision of open-air amusements,” Mr. Persily said. “We can’t afford to spend millions on new rides and only be open three months of the year.”

Would he sell out to Mr. Sitt? “At the end of the day, combining all the properties and building amusements, hotels and residential would be a wonderful thing for New York,” he said. “We’re talking about creating not hundreds of jobs but many thousands of jobs. I love Coney Island. I’d love to see it become what it once was when I was a kid.”

But not everyone trusts Mr. Sitt to deliver. They are concerned that he would convert his time-share units to apartments or flip the property to another developer who would change the plans.

Charles Denson, who grew up in Coney Island and now heads the Coney Island History Project, is fond of saying that Mr. Sitt could be a hero by saving the amusement district. But he said residential towers would overwhelm the amusements and “a big shopping mall is not Coney Island.”

The history project is running a show in the museum underneath the Cyclone roller coaster titled “Land Grab.” It depicts the development of Coney Island since the 1800s through aerial photographs.

“It’s the last ungentrified place in New York,” Mr. Denson said. “It’s still a poor man’s paradise. There’s something magical about it, the name, the reputation and the history.”

NYguy Jun 18, 2007 9:58 PM


Originally Posted by NYguy (Post 2903816)

Coney Island Plan Is Scaled Back, but Critics Are Skeptical

An artist’s rendering of an aerial view of Surf Avenue at Coney Island under a new plan for a renovated amusement complex there.

The developer Joseph J. Sitt’s $1.5 billion plan for Coney Island includes a pulsating amusement area and three hotels, with architecture that invokes the old Luna Park and Dreamland.

Seems a lot of New Yorkers are disgusted with NIMBYs and a lack of progress here...

NYguy Jun 27, 2007 11:20 PM

Coney Island #2: Meet the 'Freakenspiele' & 'Bizarre Bazaar'

Some flesh was added to the bones of those Coney Island v 2.2 renderings last night, with Thor Equities theme park consultant bringing out a lot of previously unseen renderings and an overall description.

Highlights include a big tower near the boardwalk called the Freakenspiele (we're not sure of the spelling and Google comes up bone dry) with 40 foot LED screens and a free-fall ride in the middle.

Then, there's the Bizarre Bazaar, described as a "subculture souk" that is designed for an area that will be "the subculture suburb" and the home address of "the freaks." There's a giant elephant fountain.

An overhead "Steeplechase" roller coaster (not to be confused with the Leviathan that would go in and out of all the buildings). And, that indoor water park, which will be six stories up.

"It's street front, it's urban, it's New York," developer Joe Sitt said of the package. As for Astroland, the developer said "we're trying to keep things open" but noted that "Astroland did sell the business." He said "our goal is to make sure there is a similar concept there" rather than empty land next summer. We have to say we like the word 'freakenspiele.'

NYguy Jul 1, 2007 11:53 AM

The Call of the Wild Ride

July 1, 2007

LEVIK, an 8-year-old on the loose at Coney Island, was ecstatic. He had come to the amusement park this late spring day with his classmates at the Lubavitcher Oholei Torah school in Crown Heights, which had rented Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for the morning.

One contingent careered around the track on the miniature Big Wheel truck ride, each child excitedly swerving his own mercifully nonfunctional steering wheel. Another group headed to the Wonder Wheel, a terrifying attraction that has towered above the Boardwalk since 1920.

Levik considered his options. He praised the Sea Serpent, a gentle, child-sized roller coaster. But the Wonder Wheel? “No!” he replied firmly. “Too scary.”

That sentiment has been repeated frequently ever since the Wonder Wheel began not only spinning its passengers up and down as other Ferris wheels do, but also flinging them back and forth in sliding cars that convey the illusion that they’re going to slam into each other. (In fact, they miss each other by mere inches.) Along with the 1926-vintage Cyclone, its roller-coaster companion at the neighboring Astroland Amusement Park, the Wonder Wheel represents about all that’s left of early 20th-century Coney Island — the populist Elysium that made Nathan’s famous.

Once, Coney Island was an immense, chaotic, overpowering extravaganza of rides, shooting galleries, hot-dog stands, a six-story hotel shaped like an elephant, and three amusement parks that became the stuff of myth: Luna, Steeplechase, Dreamland.

By 1966, all of them had vanished, victims of fire, the wrecker’s ball and a long-term decline in the fortunes of Coney Island. Gone, also, were the fun-seeking hordes who had devoured them, driven out by decades of decay that culminated in a bloody riot in 1968.

The amusement area, which once sprawled from West 37th Street all the way to what is now the New York Aquarium, shrank to its present size, from Surf Avenue to the beach, between West 10th and 16th Streets. Huge tracts even of that stretch are vacant now, a landscape of weeds, fractured concrete and plywood fencing.

Nobody is happy with this situation. Local residents grieve over the neighborhood’s tattered state. The city wants to make Coney Island a magnet again, hoping, in the way of the Bloomberg era, to encourage private investment that will restore it to the roughneck glory of its midway and freak-show days.

In 2005, a prospective developer did indeed appear on the scene. Thor Equities, under its principal, Joseph Sitt, has bought up about half of the entertainment district in the critical blocks between KeySpan Park and the Cyclone, envisioning an investment of up to $2 billion. Late last year, Thor made its most monumental (and controversial) purchase when it bought up the land beneath Astroland, Coney’s largest surviving amusement area, and proposed to redevelop it with a bigger and brighter array of indoor and outdoor amusements stretching from Surf Avenue to the Boardwalk.

Mr. Sitt’s earlier plans called for some large apartment sites in the amusement district, including a 50-story tower on the Boardwalk. City officials and community activists, however, have been unbending in their commitment to keep apartments out. They recall a dark day in September 1966 when the developer Fred Trump, accompanied by six bikini-clad models and a bulldozer, began dismantling the famed 69-year-old Steeplechase Park for a never-built apartment complex.

Amanda Burden, chairwoman of the New York City Planning Commission, is adamant that the surviving amusement area not succumb to a beachfront residential enclave. “There is no way that will happen under this administration,” she said. And in fact, current zoning restricts the critical area to amusements; not even restaurants with table service are permitted, only food stands like Nathan’s.

But Mr. Sitt paid $30 million just for the 3.3 acres underneath Astroland. How could a collection of kiddie rides flanked by an 80-year-old roller coaster justify such a price without some other, plummier revenue stream? Over the last several weeks, Thor and the city have conducted intensive discussions in the effort to reach an accommodation that will preserve the amusement district but also repay the investment. Two weeks ago, in the most recent twist in the complicated plot, Thor offered to replace the residential elements of its plan with three hotels, including more than 400 time-share units, along with restaurants, shops, movie theaters and high-tech arcades.

Thus far, no agreement has been reached, and Coney Island seems caught in an up-and-down ride as wild as the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel. Time may well be running out. Deno’s appears safe for now: Levik and his classmates will probably be able to savor it next season. But Astroland, barring a last-minute reprieve, is entering its last summer. By next year it could be gone. And in the eyes of many, that would mark a final tailspin and smash-up for New York’s most beloved tatty playground.

Paradoxically, even as Coney Island’s infrastructure disappears, its long-absent crowds have been returning en masse. KeySpan Park opened at Surf Avenue and West 16th Street in 2001, bringing professional baseball back to Brooklyn in the guise of the Cyclones. A city-financed cleanup improved the beach and the surrounding streetscape. Then, in May 2005, a spectacular new Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue subway station opened, replacing the grim original with a soaring arch that evokes grand European railway terminals. The city’s Parks Department estimates that last year more than 15 million people visited the beach and the Boardwalk, an increase of more than five million in three years.

The same morning that Levik was carefully choosing his next ride at Deno’s, the human landscape did look heartening. Despite the still-frigid surf, bathers were beginning to fill the beach. Young men did sit-ups on workout equipment in the sand. Children gathered under the metal palm trees that drenched them with a cooling spray.

A hundred yards down the Boardwalk, milling around the picnic tables outside Gregory and Paul’s — the blocklong food stand attached to Astroland — a group of South Asian girls were taking rides on the Cyclone. The girls were students at New Utrecht High School, and there was some debate as to whether school was still in session.

As a fresh carload of shrieking fun-seeking victims thundered down the track, a girl named Shezana emerged from the ride somewhat woozily. “I still feel like I’m falling down,” she said.

Her friend Farwa replied: “But screaming is good for your health.”

At least on the surface, much of Coney Island appears to be the thriving socially and ethnically diverse mosh pit it has always been, populated by bellowing teenagers and dignified elderly people, spenders and nonspenders, a maelstrom in which the Bermuda shorts and ankle socks of the American heartland mix with yarmulkes and Muslim veils, a place where carousel organ music and hip-hop amicably vie to drown each other out. The crowds exude an energy and a noisy verve rarely found anywhere in the city these days, an improbable but very real survival of the rough-and-ready, early-20th-century Coney Island.

At Astroland, Armmeen Williams was rapping into his wireless microphone to lure people into a balloon-shooting gallery: “Don’t be shy! Give it a try! Don’t hesitate! Participate! Two bucks! Try your luck!”

Nearby, an even earthier attraction beckoned: “Shoot the Freak: Live Human Target!” The Freak, green-eyed Enoz Gonzalez, darted around a littered vacant lot clad in Darth Vaderish armor, while his partner, Tommy Conwell, lured passers-by to an array of paint guns on the Boardwalk railing, with which they try to win prizes by splattering Mr. Gonzalez’s body.

He has been playing the Freak for three summers, and he likes the job. “There’s plenty of girls to talk to on the Boardwalk,” he explained.

Another amusement park stalwart is Dick Zigun, founder and artistic director of Coney Island USA, a group eager to incorporate in Coney Island’s future as many elements as possible of its past. Mr. Zigun spent his early years as a performance artist who strolled the Boardwalk in an antique bathing suit as the “Mayor of Coney Island.” He notes that Coney Island has managed to survive the bad times, and he expresses confidence that nothing will destroy its spirit. “Because of New York, our customers will always be multicultural, urban and half-naked,” Mr. Zigun said.

But will they keep coming if the amusements keep dwindling? The Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone still draw crowds; the 262-foot-high Parachute Jump, though closed, remains a striking sight, illuminated at night. All three are protected as city landmarks. Yet as demolition progresses, they’re surrounded by growing emptiness against a backdrop of Soviet-style high-rises in Bensonhurst.

Mr. Sitt promises free-access indoor and outdoor amusements with the same pay-per-ride arrangement now in effect at Deno’s and Astroland. He also voices the hope that displaced rental business tenants will return to the site.

“We’d like to have them back for local ‘flava,’ ” he said. But he added a warning. “Coney Island needs salvation,” he said. “And the longer we wait to begin, the harder it’s going to be.”

With Astroland now under the control of Thor, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is almost the last vestige of what Ms. Burden of the City Planning Commission wants to preserve. Its founder, a Greek immigrant named Denos Vourderis, came to Coney Island in 1970 as a food service worker at Ward’s Kiddie Park, which had occupied the site since the 1940s. He learned the business and bought it in 1980, adding the Wonder Wheel in 1983. When Mr. Vourderis died in 1994, his son Dennis took over and remains in control, at least for now.

"So far, our plans are to stay open,” Dennis Vourderis said the other day, sitting at a picnic table next to the pizza counter, surrounded by the boys from Oholei Torah. “A lot of the people who come here can’t afford $20 a person just for admission. Twenty dollars a family for everything is more like it.”

Deno’s shuns the scripted, laundered atmosphere of corporate theme parks of the Disney and Six Flags ilk. “Here,” Mr. Vourderis said, “I put a teen from Brooklyn out in the sun for eight hours, and it’s hard to keep him cheerful. That’s the grumpy guy at the ride who yells ‘Siddown!’ at you.”

Mr. Vourderis revels equally in Coney Island’s eclectic, unpredictable palette of aromas.

“Maria’s popping corn at the snack bar right now; you’ll smell it in a minute,” he said. “Later you’ll smell shish kebabs. We put the Sweet Shop in the middle of the park: we could sell 25 percent more on the Boardwalk, but the candy apple smell pulls people in. Occasionally it mixes in with a machine oil smell from the rides. But the best part is the fresh sea smell, the ocean breeze in the morning.”

On a Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago, Astroland was even more crowded than Deno’s as Carol Albert, the park’s owner, patrolled her kiddie rides, shooting galleries and Ski-Ball games.

“What happened to my werewolf?” Ms. Albert asked a park worker, pointing to the fanged but comatose mechanical monster that sagged from a window above Dante’s Inferno, a mild scare ride. “He’s supposed to go off with a scream every 90 seconds,” she added, “but he seems to have been asleep the last couple of days.”

Earlier there had been a thunderstorm, but now people were streaming in, and rides were lighting up with a popping and glaring incandescence long vanished even from 42nd Street. Astroland’s painted signs, many of which are the work of local artists commissioned by the Alberts to preserve the park’s carny atmosphere, are deliberately louche, their lettering wobbly.

“Turn up the music!” Ms. Albert ordered an attendant at the carousel. Then she noticed a little boy of about 3 who was seated on a miniature antique fire engine ride and looked as if he was about to burst into tears. Ms. Albert pointed to the brass bell. “Ring the bell!” she sang out. “Go ahead, ring the bell!” As soon as he did so, his face lit up. His father began snapping pictures.

But the probable closing of Astroland after this summer adds a rueful undercurrent to Ms. Albert’s attachment. “We sold the real estate to Thor last fall,” she said. “And for us to stay open, they’d have to agree to lease the property back to us.”

Unless Thor agrees to such an arrangement, or unless the city succeeds in finding a new location for the park — and at this point there’s no firm prospect for either — Ms. Albert will have to sell off her rides and abandon the site, leaving patrons of the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel to stare at yet another gaping wasteland. Deno’s will stand nearly alone, save for a dwindling array of forlorn small concessions dotting the emptiness around it.

The city remains adamant that it will approve no plan that dilutes Coney’s character.

“That area between KeySpan Park and the Cyclone has to remain a totally democratic amusement park,” said Lynn Kelly, president of the Coney Island Development Corporation, a city- and state-financed entity. “We want people to be a part of it even if they don’t spend a dime.”

Ms. Burden agrees. “I was out there yesterday,” she said of the amusement area. “It was teeming with every race, age and demographic. It’s the most populist, communal, democratic place on earth. That has to remain. It has to be affordable to all New Yorkers.”

Mr. Sitt continues to affirm his desire that, whatever shape it eventually takes, Coney Island’s shrunken but so-far surviving amusement complex will roar back with a 21st-century vigor, gaudier, with more harrowing rides, and crowds just as diverse but bigger than ever.

Nothing, however, has been settled. Will the amusement- and conference-oriented hotels that Mr. Sitt recently suggested satisfy everyone, including the developer, the community and the city, perhaps by bringing a critical mass of patrons to the area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Possibly.

But how big might these hotels be, and where, exactly, would they be? At this point, no one will venture an opinion.

Community activists, surviving small-business owners and Coney Island freaks of all descriptions are queasy. This feels like the moment when the Cyclone cars approach the 86-foot-high apex of the ride. Breathing is taut; anticipation is building.

Everyone aboard wants the thrill; everybody wants fun, including, perhaps, a good cathartic scream. But everybody also hopes the ride will stay on the rails.

Mark Caldwell is the author of “New York Night: The Mystique and Its History.”

Scruffy Jul 9, 2007 2:32 AM

damn. looks the idea to put a mammoth ferris wheel on a pier is gone. that would have been such a huge attraction. curses

Ch.G, Ch.G Jul 11, 2007 2:12 AM

It seems like if you're going to do it, then DO it. I'm not sure about this, but I imagine vintage Coney Island was just as over-the-top and audacious during its initial development in the late 19th Century as these glitzy renderings envision it for the 21st. Some of the more aggressive renderings really make it look like a psychedelic dreamscape. Isn't this the best way to preserve the spirit of the place?

The architects should open their minds as much as possible and make this place as fantastical as their imaginations allow. And fantastical doesn't mean Vegas, which is more often than not derivative and uncreative. In fact, they shouldn't even think about Vegas when they're planning.

The newest renderings are, I think, an unfortunate departure, too staid for a place that should be anything but.

Scruffy Jul 11, 2007 5:16 AM

version 2 doesn't look exciting enough for what coney island should be. i have just spent the entire week at coney island and honestly i freakin love it. i used to think it was so trashy but ive had so much fun. at the beach, at the pier, in the parks, at the aquarium. i will be going back all summer, it was really fun. i didn't have my camera all week but i took pics the day i did. now as much fun as coney island is, i do feel that i can be better. but im starting to think that the overly commercial proposals will not work. it also looks rather expensive for locals to visit.

coney island train station. the solar paneled train shed not shown

boardwalk. several parts are in need of maintenance.

the point. low income housing that would undoubtedly gentrify and be cleaned up should the coney island revamp actually happen. in this case thats not such a bad thing

the park with surrounding projects

this beach is fuckin awesome. i know its not the best in NYC. breezy point is but its the most fin ive had at a beach ever. (except for maybe gunnison, sandy hook, for those in the know)

the water is cold only for the first 45 minutes, then it feels good. we went swimming but you don't want to see pics of me with my shirt off

aquarium. and i love this pic

the are the blocks that will house the majority of the new developments

train shed at coney island stop

i really hope they keep the Wonder Wheel

A lot of things were closed at Wonder Wheel park

Astroland Park had all but one ride open

And ofcourse there is the cyclone

NYguy Jul 26, 2007 11:40 AM

Great photo update! Now, imagine going there in January with a lot more activity...:yes: A year 'round Coney will be one of the City's best attractions...

NYguy Jul 26, 2007 11:44 AM


July 26, 2007

Get set for a Coney Island flashback.

Before burning down in 1911, Coney Island's Dreamland Park featured a grand iron pier with spectacular amusements, restaurants, a dance hall and ferry access.

City officials will commission a study this fall on bringing ferry service back to the world-famous amusement district by building a new destination pier.

The site is the beachfront off West Eighth Street - near the New York Aquarium - where the old Dreamland pier once stood.

"I think a pier is an amazing idea," said Dick Zigun, a member of the city's Coney Island Development Corp. and founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

"Ferry service would not only help alleviate traffic congestion but would become a cool attraction for new visitors and make traveling here as unique as Coney Island itself."

The city's Economic Development Corp., which is overseeing the study, said its current plan is to study the feasibility of building a pier offering ferry service only.

But Zigun and many other local leaders say the city should think bigger and consider making any new pier include amusements, too - like the Santa Monica Pier in California and Chicago's Steel Pier.

"I'm glad they're going ahead with the study, but eventually I think they'll realize that creating an amusement pier makes more sense," said Gene Ritter, a Community Board 13 member.

It was Ritter, a commercial diver, who started the push for a new pier 17 years ago after uncovering sand pilings from Dreamland's pier and hundreds of artifacts from the park itself while searching the ocean floor off the Coney Island shoreline.

The study will be paid for with $3.2 million in federal transportation funding secured by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn).

Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, said the success of Coney Island ferry service will depend on whether the city and developers can turn Coney into a year-round attraction.

He said Long Island, New Jersey, Staten Island, Queens, The Bronx and certain parts of Brooklyn's waterfront with poor mass transit - such as Williamsburg - could serve as good locations to provide service to and from Coney Island.

Joe Sitt, the developer planning a Vegas-style, $1.5 billion entertainment complex for the center of the amusement district, said he strongly supports bringing ferry service back to Coney Island.

NYguy Aug 26, 2007 12:45 PM

Sands of time catch up to Coney Island

Parachute Jump, 1952

August 26th 2007

Thanks for the memories, Coney Island.

As city officials and private developers embark on what may be the biggest change to hit Coney Island since the Dreamland inferno of 1911, beach bums and amusement park buffs are flocking to the seaside resort to bid farewell.

When the season ends Sept. 9, the legendary Astroland amusement park will offer its final twirl on the Tilt-a-Whirl, its last dip on the Pirate Ship and a farewell plunge on the Water Flume.

Boardwalk favorites like Ruby's, Lola Staar and Cha-cha's also will be shuttered. Critics worry that redevelopment plans will take years or fall through entirely, leaving the strip looking more like a ghost town than an amusement oasis.

"Everyone is realizing what they love about Coney Island and coming down to embrace it before it changes and becomes something else," said Dianna Carlin, who owns the gift shop and clothing boutique Lola Staar. "It's sad, actually."

Megadeveloper Thor Equities and its president Joe Sitt envision hotels, entertainment venues and amusement parks in a new Coney Island that draws crowds year-round.

The success of that vision — as well as another plan to build mostly luxury housing by developer Taconic Investment Partners — hinges on a city zoning overhaul expected to be released in September.

The city has never been thrilled with Thor's Las Vegas-style vision. Earlier this month, a high-ranking city official told The News, "Thor's proposal is dead in the water."

Thor has scooped up property on the Boardwalk, Stillwell Ave. and elsewhere in Coney Island and claims it will bring in new businesses.

Critics of the $1.5 billion plan believe the Boardwalk storefronts could stay vacant for years if city officials and Thor can't agree on how best to redevelop the beachfront area.

"What's strange is Coney Island has always had this sense of anarchy and now here's somebody who's trying to sterilize and impose a vision of retail-tainment," said Coney Island historian Charles Denson. "Sitt's not an evil guy. But this is his vision and the worst thing to have in Coney Island is one person's singular vision."

As the city and Thor negotiate the future of Coney Island, many beachgoers are busy looking to the past.

Since 2004, Denson has been recording the memories of Coney Island fans young and old — and already he's collected the stories of nearly 300 people.

"I think people revisit places where they've had unusual experiences," said Denson of the interest in his Coney Island History Project. "There's a Coney Island saying, ‘If you get sand in your shoes you can never get it out.' These people, I think, have sand in their shoes."

Even with big changes in store for Coney Island, many business and civic leaders in the area insist the summer of 2007 won't be the neighborhood's last.

Deno's Wonder Wheel owner Dennis Vourderis said attendance at his park is up this season, but might not be next year if people wrongly believe Coney Island is grinding to a halt.

The New York Aquarium, minor-league baseball, the Cyclone, Nathan's Famous and Deno's all will be open next year, as will other Boardwalk attractions, Vourderis insisted.

"We aren't going anywhere," said Vourderis, echoing others who intend to stay put for the foreseeable future. "It may be a different vision, but it will always be Coney Island."

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