Local officials call for major revamp of city’s Coney Island plan

March 13, 2009 at 2:42 am Leave a comment

Local officials will call for dramatic changes in the city’s plan for Coney Island today – including one that would allow massive stores to rise on Surf Ave.

Fans of Coney Island’s faded amusement district cringed at a recommendation floated by Community Board 13 that would allow 10,000-square-foot retail buildings – four times larger than the city’s original plan – along the avenue.

“Let’s put it this way, it’s not mom-and-pop businesses that are going to be opening 10,000-square-foot stores,” said Coney Island historian Charles Denson. “That’s the size of a big-box chain store.”

The change is the most controversial among the board’s list of 20 stipulations, which were made as the board approved the city’s plan.

City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island), who lobbied for the increased retail space, said it would create flexibility for what kind of businesses could open on Surf Ave.

“It’s good because it doesn’t limit what kinds of stores want to come to Coney Island,” Recchia said.

“If it’s 2,500 square feet, a lot of people are going to say, ‘It’s too small, I can’t rent there.’ … 2,500 is a shoebox.”

Recchia is a supporter of Thor Equities, which owns property along Surf Ave. and would benefit from the larger space because of the retail chains the developer could draw.

Under the city’s plan, Thor was barred from operating an amusement area on land the developer owns.

“The community board’s actions are the beginning of an attempt to make a bad plan better,” said Thor spokesman Stefan Friedman. “The recommendations by the community are helpful, but the city’s plan remains fundamentally flawed and economically unviable.”

Recchia insisted the changes wouldn’t mean big-box stores.

“There’s no big-box stores,” said Recchia. “We don’t want Costcos. We don’t want no Wal-Marts in Coney Island.”

Another recommendation by the board would reject a city plan to protect 12 acres of land for amusements, instead of leaving the area available for future development.

“Some of the things being discussed – like a less than permanent amusement district and the quadrupling of the size of stores within it – are problematic,” said Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent.

Although the community board’s recommendations are not binding, they influence the borough president and City Council, which will also vote on the zoning plan.

Less controversial conditions include increasing parking at KeySpan Park and banning new construction eclipsing the Parachute Jump.

BY Jotham Sederstrom
Daily News

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

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