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Old Posted Feb 15, 2007, 1:18 PM
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NY Sun

City Signals No-Go for Coney Island Luxury Tower
Land Use


By ELIOT BROWN
February 15, 2007


Developer Joseph Sitt's plan to revitalize Coney Island with new amusements financed with profits from luxury housing is facing new resistance from the city.

Yesterday, the chairwoman of the Department of City Planning, Amanda Burden, criticized Mr. Sitt's plan to include a luxury tower in the beachfront district that is zoned for amusements.

"Amusements are incompatible with immediate adjacent residential use," Ms. Burden said at a Crain's New York breakfast presentation in Midtown.


Mr. Sitt's Thor Equities has planned a $2 billion complex for the area, which would contain a large amusement component, both indoor and outdoor, and retail. The developer says it must finance the amusements with the inclusion of about 700 luxury condominiums along the boardwalk. Market studies show that they need both the extra people and added revenue from the units to make the development financially viable, Thor Equities has said. Last month, the developer threatened to scuttle its plans for the amusement park if the city disallows the residential apartments.

The city is in the midst of creating a comprehensive plan for the area, which would include rezoning to allow for the amusement complex and nearby residential development. Ms. Burden said rezoning the area for the allowance of residential units in the surrounding area is important for the project, but apartments in the heart of the amusement district would detract from the overall revitalization of Coney Island. Any zoning change would need to pass through the city's uniform land use review process, and requires approvals from the Planning Commission and the City Council.

A spokesman for Thor Equities, Lee Silberstein, said that discussions with the city are ongoing.

"We continue to work with the administration to formulate a plan that can be implemented for Coney Island," Mr. Silberstein said.

As the company dances with the city over the possible inclusion of condominiums, it has been ramping up efforts to sell the project to the community. Thor Equities launched a website for the project last week, which does not mention plans for the residential units, and recently sent out cards to neighbors promoting the potential development.

In her talk yesterday morning, Ms. Burden also said that a plan for a rezoning in the Manhattan's Garment district would soon be revealed. The rezoning would not call for the addition of residential in the area, she said, once a thriving apparel manufacturing district.
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