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  #101  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2008, 9:23 PM
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Updated On 10/15/08 at 02:51PM

City acquires first parcel in Coney Island


Wonder Wheel

The city's Economic Development Corp. announced today it has bought one acre of land in the Coney Island amusement core for $11 million from Ward Realty Corp. The Ward family is the oldest landowner in Coney Island. This is the first deal of what the city expects to be a series of land acquisitions in coming months in its plan to create a 12-acre, year-round entertainment district in Coney Island. The current tenant, Wonder Wheel Park (which has the landmarked Wonder Wheel), maintains a lease to operate on the property through 2020, and the property falls within the nine-acre planned parkland in the district. With this acquisition, the city now owns four acres in the Coney Island footprint. TRD
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  #102  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 1:57 AM
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What happened to Coney Island? Whenever I think of it I think of drugs, graffiti, and the 80's for some reason. Its such a run down piece of crap now, I hope it improves someday.
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  #103  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 11:17 PM
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Coney Island simply fell through over the years, with Astroland being the sole Amusement Park for many years (Until its closing in August). Regardless of what redevelopment takes place, The Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone Rollercoaster will remain untouched, since they are both city landmarks, along with the Parachute Jump.
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  #104  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 11:34 PM
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Brooklyn Daily Eagle

October 16, 2008

Work on Contaminated Coney Site Set for Completion in ’09


Former Gas Manufacturing, Storage Facility Took Years To Clean Up


CONEY ISLAND – Work on the 17-acre former Brooklyn Borough Gas Works, a site with buried industrial wastes and a long history as a manufactured gas plant and gas storage facility, is scheduled to be finished next year after many years of cooperation between government agencies, NationalGrid and its predecessor utilities, and community residents.

The Brooklyn Borough Gas Works, near the highly polluted Coney Island Creek operated between about 1918 through the mid-1950s, when natural gas pipelines were brought into the area and the need to manufacture gas ended. Brooklyn Borough Gas, a local company in southern Brooklyn known for its pioneering employment of female executives, was bought by Brooklyn Union Gas, a predecessor to National Grid, in 1959.

At that time, Brooklyn Union began the demolition of the remaining structures on the site, which included both manufacturing operations and gas-storage tanks. In the early 1980s, with passage of Federal “Superfund” legislation, former gas-manufacturing sites were examined to determine their priority for environmental remediation, but the Brooklyn Borough Gas site was not considered dangerous enough for the federal government to pursue.

Beginning in 1984, Brooklyn Union Gas began commissioning various studies of environmental media at the site (soil, water, seepage, etc.) to determine the level of environmental risk and whether remedial action was required.

In 1995, Brooklyn Union entered into an Order on Consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to undertake a remedial investigation of the site. The investigation was completed in 1997. The first major Interim Remedial Measure was the removal of approximately 250 tons of soil containing non-hazardous levels of lead and nearly 1,600 tons of soil containing hazardous concentrations of lead.
Brooklyn Union, which had become KeySpan, continued to work with the state to develop plans to clean up the site. The Remedial Plans included excavation and removal of the top three feet of contaminated sediments along the creek; removal of toxic materials along the banks of the creek; creation of a 50-foot-wide buffer between the creek and the gas-plant site; excavating soil from areas known to contain coal tar in an upland area of the site; and more.

Nearly all of these activities have been completed, according to National Grid. Construction of an on-site treatment plant to treat the liquids collected from the recovery trench, prior to discharge to Coney Island Creek, will be completed early in 2009.
“At the time this project began, a corporate goal was also communicated to our neighbors – to remediate this site to a point where it could be returned to valuable use in the community,” according to a National Grid spokesperson. “While no decisions about eventual re-use have been made, National Grid continues to discuss re-use issues with the Public Service Commission, Community Board 13, the Borough President’s office and the City of New York. As is our policy, we will keep the community informed as these discussions move forward.”


© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008
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  #105  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2008, 9:20 PM
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New York Observer

Municipal Art Society to Solve All of Coney’s Problems With Charrette

by Eliot Brown
October 24, 2008


NYCEDC

In the works for years now, the city's planned redevelopment of Coney Island has never been short on input. A sampling of what we've seen in the last year: A self-proclaimed "bombshell" press conference by a dissatisfied state Senator, an environmental "scoping" hearing with a stream of freaks, musicians, a hunger striker and the Reverend Billy; an info session that attracted busloads of protesters, many of whom were apparently unfamiliar with the issue.

Now, the Municipal Art Society is stepping deep into the muck, with plans on Monday to kick off its own charrette—a pow-wow of designers and amusement experts—as part of its larger recent focus on the Coney issue.

The initiative will "feature a global Web-based call for ideas, and a charrette (an intense design workshop) featuring international amusement and design experts from Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, Broadway theater in New York City, and former Disney executives," the group said in a release.

The civic group has previously been rather critical of the city's plan, saying the proposed amusement zone of nine acres is rather small (here's the detailed, 17-page testimony).

"We are not aware of any other amusement areas of a comparable scale that come close to achieving the number of visitors that is the market for a revitalized Coney Island or even Coney Island today," the group said in testimony this summer.

Results are due back Nov. 17. Release below.


MAS GATHERS TOP WORLD DESIGNERS TO
DEVELOP NEW IDEAS FOR VISION FOR CONEY ISLAND


Effort Seeks to Identify Designs, Uses & Events
for Long Term and Interim Development Period

The Municipal Art Society, working with a team of world-class architects, amusement designers and economists, will launch an initiative to develop new ideas for the design and programming of Coney Island this Monday, October 27 2008.

Titled "Imagine Coney," the new initiative will feature a global Web-based call for ideas, and a charrette (an intense design workshop) featuring international amusement and design experts from Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, Broadway theater in New York City, and former Disney executives.

MAS hopes that by leveraging global ideas and creativity it can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the remarkable strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island. The charrette team will draw from creative and entrepreneurial ideas submitted during public workshops and on a Web-based call for ideas that will be open to all.
The team will participate in a briefing session on Coney Island on Monday, October 27 from 9 am - 12 pm with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the Coney Island Development Corporation, the Department of City Planning, Coney Island USA, the Astella Development Corporation, the New York Aquarium, Creative Time, and other groups and local stakeholders. The team will return on November 13 and 14 for the charrette, and the results will be publicly presented on November 17.




© 2008 Observer Media Group
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  #106  
Old Posted Oct 27, 2008, 8:07 PM
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Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Top Designers To Develop Vision for Coney Island

by Linda Collins


The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has invited a team of world-class architects, amusement designers and economists to come up with a new vision for Coney Island.

The MAS will launch an initiative to develop the new ideas at a press conference at noon on today, Monday, Oct. 27, at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Titled “Imagine Coney,” the new initiative will feature a global web-based call for ideas and a charrette (an intense design workshop), featuring international amusement and design experts from Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, Broadway theaters in Manhattan and former Disney executives.

The MAS hopes that by leveraging global ideas and creativity it can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island.

The charrette team will draw from ideas submitted during public workshops and from the web-based call for ideas that will be open to everyone.

Participants in the press conference will include Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and representatives from the Coney Island Development Corporation, the Department of City Planning, Coney Island USA, the Astella Development Corporation, the New York Aquarium, Creative Time, and other local stakeholders.

The team will return to Borough Hall on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 13 and 14, for the charrette, and the results will be presented to the public the following Monday, Nov. 17.



© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008
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  #107  
Old Posted Oct 28, 2008, 9:09 PM
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Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Worldwide Call Begins For Ideas To Revitalize Coney Amusement Area
by Dennis Holt (Holt@brooklyneagle.net), published online 10-27-2008

Planners from Denmark, Spain, France Come to Borough Hall

By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A new planning effort for Coney Island, the initiative of the Municipal Art Society, began Monday morning at Borough Hall. It is not an effort to compete with the city plan for the creation of a new Coney Island, but to focus on the nature of the entertainment section.

The entertainment part has become an emotional element of a Coney Island plan, the city having reduced its size to nine acres from an original concept of 18 acres.

The new planning effort can be considered a brainstorming activity, with the morning Monday devoted to comments and brief presentations by 15 different people or groups. There will be two additional meetings, called charrettes on November 13 and 14, with a final presentation on November 17.

Monday afternoon a tour was conducted for all participants to key features on Coney Island — the Aquarium, Astroland, Keyspan Park, the Childs Building, among them.

This is not planned as merely “another part” in the Coney Island process, of which to date there have been many parts. The charrette team is composed of personnel from Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona, the Disney organization, and elsewhere representing a variety of skills and experience in designing and creating entertainment centers.

In addition to the meetings here in Brooklyn, the Art Society will also create a global web-based call for ideas and concepts for the entertainment area.

Kent Barwick, longtime president of the Municipal Art Society who is stepping down from that position, proposed “That by leveraging global ideas and creativity, we can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island.”

The Coney Island process has some uncertainty attached to it. Joesph Sitt, the principal of Thor Equities, owns a major part of the planned entertainment area and has submitted a plan of his own for both the entertainment part and commercial and residential development.

The city countered with its own plan, which, although it has to deal with Sitt’s property ownership, is now the only real plan on the table.

The long and tedious study of all the zoning implications needed to create a revised Coney Island is reaching a significant turning point. The certification process for the new zoning plan is expected to be completed sometime in January and the ULURP (uniform land use review process) will begin then. Details of this plan will very much drive the rest of the planning process, as will the resolution of property ownership.



© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008
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  #108  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2008, 8:48 PM
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Gowanus Lounge

Sitt & Thor Literally Trashing Coney Island

November 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment



These are photos of Thor Equities property in Coney Island posted to the Coney Island Message Board by Captain Nemo. Our friends at Kinetic Carnival also had a post about it yesterday. We’re not suggesting that developer Joe Sitt is dumping garbage on his property, only that it is so poorly secured and maintained that it makes a convenient spot for illegal dumping. It’s among the many reasons that so many people are so nervous about the firm having a prominent role in Coney redevelopment. Kinetic wondered if this is what an empty Astroland lot would look like next year. It underscores the point that the city needs to act fast to develop an interim plan to keep Coney Island intact between rezoning and the point at which the economy recovers to allow any significant redevelopment–which could turn out to be many, many years from now. Thor demolished the rides on this property two years ago.
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  #109  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2008, 8:52 PM
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Updated On 11/12/08 at 04:21PM

Thinkers offer ideas for Coney Island


Coney Island


The Center for an Urban Future issued a report yesterday with opinions from architects, urban planners, historians and writers on the future of Coney Island. Jonathan Lethem, author of "Motherless Brooklyn" and "The Fortress of Solitude" criticized the Atlantic Yards project, calling developer Bruce Ratner's leadership of the project a "mistake." Lisa Chamberlain, executive director of the Forum for Urban Design, suggested an express train from Times Square to Coney Island to draw some of Times Square's tourists to Coney Island.


http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot....eport-new.html
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  #110  
Old Posted Nov 21, 2008, 8:55 PM
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Brooklyn Paper

November 20, 2008

Coney Sitt down: City moves to buy out Joe

By Mike McLaughlin
The Brooklyn Paper


NYC EDC

A rendering of the city’s vision for Coney Island. But first, Mayor Bloomberg needs to buy the land from Joe Sitt.



The city is moving forward with a controversial plan to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to buy out Coney Island’s principal landowner and end a years-long standoff to control the amusement area’s destiny.

Joe Sitt’s company, Thor Equities, has gobbled up 10-1/2 acres of land since 2005 in the hopes of developing a Vegas-style resort of hotels, rides and shopping — but Sitt’s plan, which would require a rezoning, was blocked by the Bloomberg Administration in favor of a city-owned theme park along the Boardwalk.

The city, of course, couldn’t realize that vision without first acquring Sitt’s land. And now, it appears that the developer will welcome an offer.

“We are having positive discussions with the city,” said Thor’s spokesman Stefan Friedman in a statement.

The New York Post reported on Monday that the city might pay up to $250 million for Sitt’s land, which he bought for about $100 million, but several sources said the city would pay less.

The two camps were at loggerheads over who would control Coney’s destiny, with the city interested in acquiring five acres from Sitt that fell within the area targeted for the city-owned theme park.

But now, the city is willing to also buy the Thor holdings in the area designed for private developers to build hotels, restaurants, arcades and other attractions that the city says would make Coney Island a tourist magnet throughout the year.

These additional acres will cost the city tens of millions extra than it had intended to pay to launch its grand plan.

Still, the city’s plan is held in higher esteem than Thor’s among a vocal group of Coney Island boosters who want to see as many rides and games in the area than high-rise hotels and shopping — though the city plan includes both.

The city has long held Sitt in low esteem, even as he bought up Coney’s core.

Without mentioning Sitt or his company by name, the mayor suggested that his rival had no interest in preserving the beachfront amusement area.

“There are private developers [in Coney Island] who have their own economic interests and … we’re trying to reconcile property values with what’s in the public interest,” he said in September.

The mayor has momentum on his side.

The Coney Island Economic Development Corporation last month purchased an acre of land used by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park that Sitt had failed to buy for $11 million.




©2008 The Brooklyn Paper
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  #111  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2009, 11:42 PM
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New York Post

CONEY IS. PLAN BITES NATHAN'S


By RICH CALDER

Last updated: 10:10 am
January 20, 2009
Posted: 3:25 am
January 20, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg's plan to revitalize Coney Island could mean the end of the original Nathan's Famous hot-dog stand.

That revelation is hidden deep within the draft of the 47-acre rezoning plan's environmental-impact statement, which the city submitted yesterday.

The Nathan's site - which opened at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in 1916 - could make way for more lucrative development should land values skyrocket once the rezoning is approved.

"Nathan's Famous restaurant . . . is assumed to be replaced under the proposed actions with a new building containing hotel, amusement, retail and enhancing uses," according to the city document.

Nathan's-- which owns the building at 1308 Surf Avenue and has a right to sell for big bucks -- could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But Andrew Brent, a spokesman for the mayor, said any talk of Nathan's leaving is premature.

"Nathan's is one of Coney Island's treasured assets, and it's continued success in its current location is absolutely a part of the administration's plan to grow and revitalize the amusement district."

Another city official said the rezoning could possibly open the door to the frankfurter king expanding the site with "possibly a sit-down restaurant, catering or even a hot-dog ride."

Nathan's operates a smaller stand in the amusement district a block away on the boardwalk, but it rents the stand from developer Joe Sitt, who is in the process of trying to sell his Coney Island properties to the city.

The report comes in light of the city getting set today to kick off the seven-month public review process for the $2.5 billion rezoning plan.

The Nathan's Surf Avenue stand abuts where the city wants to build a new 9.39 acre outdoor amusement park nestled between the Parachute Jump to the west and the Cyclone rollercoaster to the east.

A new strip, dubbed "Wonder Wheel Way," would connect three landmarks, the Parachute Jump, Wonder Wheel and Cyclone.

The park would be part of a 27-acre "entertainment and amusement district" that would also include indoor rides, games and other entertainment and high-rise hotels.

"The plan to revitalize Coney Island will substantially increase the storied amusement area, creating a year-round attraction that will bring tourists and visitors to Brooklyn," Mayor Bloomberg said.

"This plan protects and preserves the unique character of Coney Island while bringing new housing, shops and recreational facilities to a community that needs more of each."

Many Coney Islanders, however, want to see a larger amusement area - saying up to 61 acres is now zoned for rides in the area, although city officials are quick to point out that just few precious acres now offer them.

Some civic leaders are calling on the city to revert to an earlier plan that had 15 acres set aside for the outdoor park and are planning organized protests.

The city plan also includes erecting 4,500 units of new housing north of Surf Avenue and west of Keyspan Park - roughly 900 of which would be affordable units -- and 500,000 square feet of neighborhood retail.

***

The draft EIS that was completed earlier this month can be found at http://www.nyc.gov/html/oec/html/ceq...07K_DEIS.shtml
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  #112  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2009, 1:30 PM
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Nathans's has said they will stick around, but there's no use getting used to a particular design (we've seen hundereds it seems) until the city completes the process, and we know exaclty who will be building what.
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  #113  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 5:23 AM
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/ny...1&ref=nyregion

After 6-Ton Donation, Astroland Rocket Sets a Course for Re-entry to Coney Island


By COREY KILGANNON
January 28, 2009

After the Astroland Park rocket in Coney Island was dismantled this month, its fate seemed up in the air. But the city announced on Wednesday that it had found a landing place for the beloved rocket — and it is Coney Island.

Several weeks ago, the rocket was removed from its familiar perch atop a Boardwalk food stand. That caused an uproar among Coney Island enthusiasts over what would become of the rocket, which after the park opened in 1962 became as much a symbol of Coney Island as Nathan’s and the parachute jump.

But on Wednesday, city officials announced that the Albert family, who owned Astroland, which closed last year and was sold to developers as part of a large Coney Island construction project, had donated the rocket to the city, which will include it as a centerpiece in the new development.

The redevelopment plan for Coney Island has been a sensitive subject for many people who fear that change will sanitize Coney Island, and the importance of the rocket as a symbol was not lost on city officials, who put out a press release on Wednesday calling the rocket in a headline “a Symbol of the City’s Commitment to the Redevelopment of the Storied Amusement Destination,” and said it would relocate the rocket to “Coney Island’s New Amusement and Entertainment District.”

The release quotes Robert C. Lieber, deputy mayor for economic development, as saying, “Coney Island is the people’s playground, and the Astroland rocket is its symbol of the adventure, discovery and fun that have brought New Yorkers here for years.”

“As we move forward and put in place a redevelopment and revitalization plan that will create an even better future for Coney Island’s amusement district,” Mr. Lieber said in the release, “we want to preserve, and enhance, her past, and I am pleased to say that the rocket will continue to be part of Coney Island for generations to come.”

And Seth W. Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, called the rocket “a quintessential part of Coney Island’s history that serves as a unifying link between its fabled past and its future as a year-round entertainment destination.”

The 71-foot-long, 12,000-pound rocket, which was taken down from Gregory & Paul’s food stand, is currently in storage on Staten Island, and it will become a permanent and iconic part of the 27-acre redeveloped amusement district in Coney Island, city officials said.

Originally opened as the Star Flyer, the aluminum tube seated 26 riders for a three-minute simulated blastoff, courtesy of a hydraulic lift, and a film that simulated space travel. In recent years, it served as a prop advertising Astroland.

The rocket would be on display in the 27-acre Boardwalk amusement park that the city plans to build, along with a redevelopment project to create hotels, restaurants, retail space and thousands of apartments, to expand the area’s use as a year-round destination.

Whereas the rocket had been mounted atop Gregory & Paul’s for years, it may be displayed in a way that allows visitors to get a much closer look.

“We’re looking into all the options for making it accessible to the public,” a city official said.


Reached on Wednesday by phone, Dick Zigun, founder of Coney Island USA, said he believed the city’s decision to preserve the rocket was a gesture of good faith. “We still disagree with the city about aspects of the plan,” he said, “but this is a happy day because the rocket is worth saving — it represents the naming of the park and the optimism of the country back in 1962.”

But Mr. Zigun, who resigned last June as director of the Coney Island Development Corporation in protest of aspects of the city’s plan, said he would continue to fight against parts of the plan, including rezoning that he says threatens Nathan’s, and the planned location of three large hotels near the Boardwalk and the Wonder Wheel.

“We’re still adamant that the new Coney Island should be a mix of the historic old Coney Island and the best of the new,” Mr. Zigun said, “or else you homogenize, suburbanize and standardize.”

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The rocket before removal one fall afternoon...

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  #114  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 5:43 AM
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Coney Island one afternnoon in July...











































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  #115  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 3:52 PM
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I am glad I got to see the old Coney and ride on the Cyclone. My grandparents jumped off the parachute jump in 1945, which was just mindblowing when I saw the jump in person.
I'll definitely go back when it reopens.
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Old Posted Jan 30, 2009, 1:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaron38 View Post
I am glad I got to see the old Coney and ride on the Cyclone. My grandparents jumped off the parachute jump in 1945, which was just mindblowing when I saw the jump in person.
I'll definitely go back when it reopens.
The good news is that those are 2 of the 3 major elements that will remain, (the other being the Wonder Wheel).
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Old Posted Mar 12, 2009, 12:12 PM
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http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/...mporting_.html

Is the Coney Island Boardwalk importing California freaks? Addition of John Strong's Show mulled

BY Jotham Sederstrom
March 12th 2009


You got fries with that snake? Enchantra at Coney Island.


Dick Zigun, owner and operator of Coney Island USA and the Sideshow.


A Coney Island fire eater.


A woman swallows a sword at Coney Island.



The latest East Coast-West Coast rivalry is a Boardwalk battle of oddballs that has Coney Island carnies freaking out.

John Strong's Shows, the largest collection of oddities and circus freaks in the country, plans to open just two blocks from Coney Island's reigning sideshow. The move from California puts Strong in direct competition with Dick Zigun, founder of the world-famous Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

"My show will do 50 times what Dick Zigun's show does every day," boasted John Strong3rd, who said his collection of 250 oddities - including the world's only two-headed cow - will open April 9 at the former site of Astroland Park.


"We're going to be on every major talk show and we're hoping we can revive Coney," added Strong, who said his attraction would be renamed the Coney Island Freakshow.

Zigun, whose army of sword swallowers and fire breathers has wowed Coney revelers since 1986, said he's ready to protect his Surf Ave. turf.

"They will tell you they have a live show, but odds are that means you get one person," sniffed Zigun.

A spokesman for Thor Equities, which bought the 3.1-acre Astroland site in 2006, insisted the developer was still in talks with amusement operators and hadn't yet chosen Strong.

"Thor Equities is still in talks with numerous amusement operators, sideshow acts and other vendors, as we prepare to kick off the summer of 2009," said the spokesman.

"Regardless of who Thor decides to partner with, we are confident that every single square foot of property that Thor owns in Coney Island will be open and active."
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Old Posted Apr 2, 2009, 3:43 PM
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http://www.archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3353

Coney's New Big Top
Grimshaw-designed amphitheater to become latest Coney Island icon


Grimshaw has designed a new amphitheater as part of the Coney Center.
Courtesy Grimshaw


The roof took the form of a hyperbolic paraboloid that helped keep weight—and thus costs—down.


The amphitheater has seating for 8,000 and is intended to draw bigger acts to the Coney Island shore.




It has been rough sailing out at Coney Island of late, with the destruction of Astroland last winter and simmering tensions about the city’s rezoning proposal. But good news has started to trickle in this week, with the announcement Monday that $15 million in stimulus money would go toward replacing parts of the decaying boardwalk. That was followed yesterday by word of the possible creation of an “interim” amusement park next year so the summer escape will not be a total wasteland when the city rebuilds it.

And now comes the biggest show by the sea since Dreamland burned down, the new Coney Center, a $47 million amphitheater designed by Grimshaw. The project will replace a 1980s bandshell located in Asser Levy Park with a new 8,000-seat entertainment complex meant to attract marquee acts. Capping it all is a swooping, 60,000-square-foot roof in the shape of a hyperbolic paraboloid—picture a massive Pringles potato chip, but made of steel and translucent fiberglass, supercharged by hundreds of strobing stage lights.

Mark Husser, the partner-in-charge, sees the theater as the latest in a long line of Coney icons, both historic and geographic: the Parachute Jump, Keyspan Park, the defunct Elephant Hotel, the Cyclone, and now Coney Center. “What is the context of Coney Island? It’s that there is no context,” Husser said. “Everything is unique, everything is a spectacle, but in that uniqueness, Coney’s icons find unity.”

Borough President Marty Markowitz first announced the “state-of-the-art recreation facility” in his 2007 State of the Borough address, with the intention of competing with the other summer concert venues in the area, like Jones Beach and Westbury. While smaller than some of its rivals—the former holds 18,000—the real attraction is new amenities, such as green rooms, of which there are currently none, and a better sound and lighting system, not to mention the appeal of Coney Island itself and its proximity to the city.

And while amenities and location are nice, the real hallmark of Coney Center is its shimmering roof. Husser said the shape was chosen for a number of reasons, mainly the lightness of its structure. “It’s like a bicycle wheel with a massive steel rim and a ring at the middle for a hub,” he explained. “It’s a much lighter structure than one operated by trusses.” By bending the roof, it provides its own tension and thus requires less structure, which means less weight and less cost. The shape also helps minimize noise to adjacent housing and keep out the rain. The peaked end at the east side also achieves one of the project’s other main goals: to create a new gateway for Coney Island on perhaps its most common point of entry, Ocean Parkway. (Far more people drive to the area each year than ride the subway.)

At one point, the designers had considered a retractable roof, but a number of issues prevented its inclusion. First, the cost of construction and maintenance would have been considerable, especially given the corrosive seaside air. But more importantly, Coney Center is intended as a year-round facility: During the off-season, the 5,000 fixed seats beneath the canopy will be removed and replaced with an ice-skating rink.

Beyond the amphitheater, Grimshaw is also redesigning the playground that currently sits in the park, both to modernize it and because it is located on the footprint of the new and expanded back-of-the-house. Working with landscape architects Mathews Nielsen, the designers have created an elevated climbing structure that wends its way up, down, and around trees. The idea is to disrupt as few trees as possible while also creating a structure that recalls the nearby roller coaster. The team will also refurbish the popular handball courts across Surf Avenue.

Through a spokesperson, Markowitz praised the park as the latest step in the revitalization of Coney Island. “Replacing Asser Levy’s antiquated band shell with a state-of-the-art one will ensure that free community programming—it was used for 45 different community events last year—remains in Coney Island,” he said. “Moreover, it will be a key component of a revitalized Coney Island for the community and visitors in the days ahead.”

The project has come under some fire from locals who have complained about the possibility of increased noise and crowds, as well as the fact that some concerts will be paid, instead of free. But both the borough president and the designers counter that money generated from paid shows will go to putting on more free ones. “It’s win-win for the community and the city,” Husser said.

Construction is due to begin at the end of this summer’s concert searon, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

Matt Chaban
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2009, 3:49 PM
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CONEY ISLAND BACK THIS WEEKEND

By RICH CALDER
April 3, 2009

Come the weekend you'll be able to ride the Cyclone - and soon even "Shoot the Freak" - just like you did last summer as Coney Island bounces back for at least one more season before a massive overhaul.

Despite the recent loss of Astroland Park, amusement operators and local leaders remain optimistic that Coney Island's world-famous boardwalk - which is undergoing repairs - can still draw big crowds.

Parts of what's left of a rapidly dwindling amusement district reopens Sunday, including the world-famous landmark Cyclone roller coaster, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and a few boardwalk attractions.

Other attractions return in the coming weeks - including the "Freak" oddity that lets you shoot paint balls at a human target, Ruby's bar and nearly all of the other dozen small boardwalk businesses that were in danger of being booted from their space only a few months ago.

Meanwhile, developer Joe Sitt, the area's primary landowner, is planning to unveil some new, but temporary, attractions including 25 rides and games slated for the old Astroland Park site and a flea market/fair with large tents set for vacant tracts on the Stillwell Avenue boardwalk.


The old Astroland site will also host a new freak show that will look to rival the popular Coney Island USA Circus Sideshow.

The city, which wants to buy Sitt's 10.5 acres of land and redevelop it as part of the mayor's vision for a new 27-acre amusement district, announced Wednesday that it has returned to the bargaining table with a new offer of $105 million.

But sources close to Sitt laughed off word of that offer because it's $5 million less than the city's previous bid. The developer wants close to $200 million, but city officials say the economic downturn dictates the latest offer.

Other annual Coney Island events also returning include the Mermaid Parade, Friday night fireworks, Nathan's hot dog eating contest, the Siren Music Festival and several concert series.

The Lola Staar roller rink will also return to the boardwalk at the landmark Child's restaurant building Memorial Day weekend.

But owner Dianna Carlin had to relocate her popular Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique from the boardwalk to the revamped Stillwell Avenue subway terminal because Sitt failed to renew her lease. Her store also reopens Memorial Day weekend.

The Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets minor league affiliate, kick off their 38-home game schedule June 19, and there are also year-round attractions like the New York Aquarium and the Coney Island USA Museum and Circus Sideshow.

The city is also negotiating to bring Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Coney Island this summer, along with the return of professional beach volleyball.

Carol Hill Albert, who operates the Cyclone, said it will be odd reopening the 82-year-old roller coaster without the rest of Astroland Park but is "hopeful tourists will give Coney Island a shot this summer."

Although the price to ride the Cyclone is still at $8, Albert said she is seeking permission from the Parks Department to up the price to $9 because of a "huge hike in insurance," but she added "we're going to have a lot of recession specials this year," including charging people only $5 if they jump back on for a second ride.

The first 100 people will ride free at the gala season opening.

Additional reporting by Sally Goldenberg.
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Old Posted Apr 4, 2009, 4:01 PM
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BOARDWALK ROCK
CITY PUSH FOR CONEY CONCERTS


By RICH CALDER
April 4, 2009

The city is in talks with the nation's top concert promoter to bring major acts to the Coney Island beach this summer that could draw 100,000 people, The Post has learned.

Live Nation -- which promotes A-list acts like Madonna, U2 and Elton John -- is negotiating with the Bloomberg administration about staging performances at the rundown seaside amusement district reeling from the recent loss of Astroland Park, sources said yesterday.

The concerts would probably be held along the sands between West 10th and 12th streets.

Other parts of the world-famous beachfront are also being considered for three operas in September, and other events, including the possible return of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

Julius Spiegel, borough commissioner for the Parks Department, confirmed that the city "would love to have Coney Island host beachfront concerts" but said no deals have been set.


A department spokesman later said the city has been in talks with concert promoters about hosting seaside shows.

He declined to say whether Live Nation is the favorite, and the promoter did not return phone messages.

The department is working with NYC & Company, the city's marketing and tourism group, on finding ways to boost tourism in Coney Island this summer.

Besides the loss of Astroland, many businesses currently are unable to open because of much-needed repairs being done to a decaying boardwalk. The amusement district kicks off its new season Sunday with the opening of the Cyclone roller coaster, Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and other amusements.

Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 13 in Coney Island, said he hopes the city works out a deal for beachfront concerts, saying it would drum up much needed business.

"I think the concerts and the operas would be great," Reichenthal said. "Anything that is going to get people here."

Coney Island historian Charles Denson said he was unaware if any operas had been held on the beach but said the Steeplechase Pier hosted "spectacular concerts" with large orchestras as late of the mid 1960s. He said he feels an opera with an ocean theme like Gilbert & Sullivan's hit "HMS Pinafore" would work best.

Summer concerts are held at nearby Asser Levy Park on the Coney Island-Brighton Beach border, and Borough President Marty Markowitz is proposing building a $64 million 5,000-seat amphitheater at the site.

The project is under fire from local groups who claim it's too close to a residential neighborhood and would cut into a popular lawn area that would be revitalized and set aside for 3,000 additional removable seats.

"If they can put concerts on the beach, they certainly don't need to take away scarce green space a few blocks away," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates
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