Mayor unveils plan for Coney Island rezoning
The city wants to create an expanded 27-acre amusement district as well as residential towers up to 27 stories high.
The Department of City Planning wants to rezone 60 acres in the Brooklyn neighborhood to spur reinvestment. The centerpiece of the plan is a 27-acre amusement district that will expand the types of rides and attractions a developer can bring to the area. The current zoning for the amusement district is too antiquated, city officials say, and does not allow for contemporary attractions like virtual reality rides, water parks, movie theaters or even sit-down restaurants the city hopes to attract.
The main element of the new amusement district will be a 12-acre park that will knit together the Cyclone, the boardwalk and other Coney Island icons. Right now, the city owns about half of that land and pledges to continue negotiating for the rest.
However, the city has been negotiating with Joe Sitt of Thor Equities, one of the main landowners in the area, and made little progress. Those talks have now stalled and the city’s rezoning plan may not get them re-started.
“Despite being the largest landowner in the area that the city is proposing to rezone, Thor has yet to see the city’s plan,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Mr. Sitt. “We will withhold any comment until we carefully review the city’s material.”
The city is also planning a new street, called “Wonder Wheel Way,” which would connect the Parachute Jump with the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone roller coaster.
Outside of the amusement district, the new zoning plan will encourage retail and residential development. The city will allow developers to build towers up to 27 stories tall in some cases, in exchange for affordable housing units and retail space. All told, the plan seeks to add 4,500 new housing units to the area, 800 of which would be built to be affordable units.
The city estimates that over the next 10 years, redeveloping the district will create 25,000 construction jobs and up to 6,000 permanent jobs in new amusement and hospitality-related businesses.
In his “State of the City” address last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that reshaping Coney Island would play an important role in his plans to create 400,000 new jobs and help pull the city out of the economic downturn. Mr. Bloomberg welcomed the news of the rezoning plan.
“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,” the mayor said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s office announced that under a pilot program, portions of the famed Coney Island boardwalk are being replaced with plastic planks that will last longer than wood, part of Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to reduce the city’s use of tropical hardwood.
By Matthew Sollars