NYC, arts group hint at Coney Island rejuvenation

November 17, 2008 at 11:48 pm Leave a comment

A private arts group and City Hall are engaged in separate efforts to rejuvenate Coney Island that could lead to the reincarnation of the historic oceanside amusement complex with new year-round entertainment facilities, officials said on Monday.

The Municipal Art Society announced design plans for indoor and outdoor projects that would reopen Coney Island for some public use by next summer, while inviting long-term development that it says would boost the city’s economy.

“Coney Island always has been and always should be an entertainment destination for the city and the world,” society president Kent Barwick said in remarks prepared for a news conference. “By positioning Coney Island as a venue for small and large events year-round, we can immediately begin to attract new visitors while entertaining those who are already there, creating economic activity in the process.”

Barwick noted that the Bloomberg administration is separately negotiating to acquire 10.5 acres of Coney Island property. He called that “a great first step” that could have “enormous impact” on the city’s economy and “re-establish Coney Island as a magnet for tourism.”

Andrew Brent, a spokesman for Robert Lieber, deputy mayor for economic development, confirmed that talks are in progress between the city and Thor Equities for purchase of the acreage, which includes the 3.1-acre Astroland amusement park that closed in September after its longtime owner broke off negotiations with Thor for a year’s extension on its lease.

The New York Post reported on Monday that Bloomberg wanted to have Astroland back in business by next summer, and the city might have to pay upward of $200 million for the property. Such a price could double Thor’s initial investment.

“I’m not sure where those dollar values are from, but, yes, we’re talking to Thor Equities about its land in the amusement district,” Brent said.

The city wants to rezone 47 acres of Coney Island and use nine acres of that for an amusement park. Two of the area’s best-known attractions, the Cyclone roller coaster and the 150-foot Wonder Wheel, are both city landmarks, and are separately owned and operated.

The nonprofit art society said its overall design concept for Coney Island draws on ideas and contributions from entertainment developer and former Disney Corp. vice president David Malmuth, noted British architect Tim Thorton and various other entertainment industry experts.

Proposed for inclusion are a cable-car ride, a retractable roof for an all-season venue, a high-rise hotel and an amusement center with 21st century digital signs.


The Associated Press


Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Go Coastal, Public Waterfront. Tags: , , , , , .

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