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Old Posted Nov 29, 2006, 6:03 PM
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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."
NEW YORK heals.

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