The New Coney Island - Brooklyn's Times Square by the Sea
Friday, November 28, 2008
Starbucks in Sheepshead Gets Drive Thru Approved
By Fred Friedman
In a subdued 30 minutes, Community Board 15 approved five modifications in zoning rules at Tuesday night’s meeting that took place at Kingsborough Community College.
The first approval was for the proposed Starbucks opening up on Nostrand Avenue and Gravesend Neck Road. Ronald Mandel, the lawyer for Starbucks, requested permission to build a driveway, which would accomidate five cars in a parking lot adjacent to the store.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
City opens checkbook for Coney
By Mike McLaughlin
The Brooklyn Paper
The city has budgeted $200 million in taxpayer money to buy privately held land and make other improvements in Coney Island as part of its turnaround plan for down-on-its-luck neighborhood.
The bulk of the money will be spent on land purchases — and The Brooklyn Paper has learned that those buys will go far beyond the nine acres that the city has slated for an amusement park and cut into 18 acres of property beyond the core theme park zone so the city will have land on which it can develop hotels, restaurants and indoor amusements like a water park, bowling alley or arcade.
“The city is interested in acquiring land from any of the property owners in the 18 acres,” said Libby Langsdorf, a spokeswoman for the Coney Island Development Corporation. Until now, she added, “It has been the city’s interest to consolidate the land in the mapped parkland.”
One has to wonder who will build all the hotels, restaurants, retail and indoor and outdoor amusements. It sure won't be the city. My guess is the city has someone like Taconic ( who owns Coney North and Coney West already) in mind to develop a good portion of Coney East as well. Would the city buy all this property without any developer lined up???
Monday, November 24, 2008
CONEY'S $64 MIL ROCK IN THE PARK
By RICH CALDER
Jones Beach and the PNC Bank Arts Center could soon be facing stiff competition from Coney Island in attracting A-list acts, but the cost to taxpayers will be steep - $64 million.
City officials confirmed that the price tag for a planned 5,000-seat amphitheater at Asser Levy Park near the fabled boardwalk has jumped $24 million since Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz announced a $40 million plan to build it nearly two years ago.
The Beep says he's putting his money where his mouth is, using $54 million of his office's capital improvement funds. The mayor's office would kick in $10 million.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Imagine Liza Minnelli belting out “New York, New York” underneath a giant potato chip.Strange, but that’s how some are describing the roof of the new $64 million Coney Island Center slated to rise at Asser Levy Park in Coney Island.
The fabric or polymer roof, resembling a giant potato chip or saddle, could have the ability to expand and retract depending on the weather.
Local officials are presently studying the effectiveness of similar structures already in use in places like Germany and China.
Jon Benguiat, Borough Hall’s Director of Planning and Development, recently talked about the feasibility of building an amphitheater with a retractable roof at a Municipal Art Society forum on Coney Island.
Is Taconic going to own most, if not all of Coney? Nobody has really addressed this possibility yet.
The Municipal Art Society of New York has been working with the city’s economic advisors and other planning advocacy groups to try to develop plans that will help it reclaim its stature as a world-class entertainment destination. Some of the plans presented at a Nov. 17 meeting looked like they were something out of a Sci-Fi movie.
We applaud these plans, but consider them an exercise in art and futility.
As a local paper, we are grounded in the realities of Coney Island, ranging from the lack of job opportunities and no pulse during the colder months in the city. One needs to take a stroll along Mermaid Avenue to see the ghost town the area becomes in the winter. Realistically, improved rides and flashing lights will not put paychecks into residents’ pockets.
If the city wants to do justice for the south Brooklyn enclave, it should consider year-round attractions—we would love to see casinos and hotels. Coney Island is a 45-minute train ride to Midtown—close, but not that close.
We need a Coney Island that is finally someplace you wouldn’t mind finding yourself in November or July.
Good to see newspapers like the Brooklyn View and Brooklyn Paper standing up to the reality of Coney development needs.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Excerpt From NY1
Astroland's owner Carol Albert says she is in talks with an amusement resort in Australia that wants to move the entire park from Coney Island to Queensland on Australia's Gold Coast.
The famous park shut its doors in September after 46 years.
My guess is this is Albert's way of trying to put pressure on the city to buy Thor's land in order to keep Astroland in Coney.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
More Coney baloney
The Brooklyn Paper
Why is the Bloomberg Administration going into the amusement park business?
We have asked this question repeatedly as we watched — with anything but amusement — the mayor block Coney Island’s main landowner in his efforts to spend $2 billion to turn the faded ocean-front paradise into a glitzy, Vegas-style Xanadu.
We’ve expressed concern that the mayor was allowing his personal animosity for developer Joe Sitt to hinder the redevelopment of Coney Island, but that concern now turns to horror as the actual cost of Bloomberg’s pettiness becomes clearer.
This week, the city moved to buy the landowner’s Coney holdings at a cost of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.
The Bloomberg Administration wants the land in order to realize its own vision for the future of Coney Island — a plan that includes many of the same elements (new rides, new attractions, a hotel) that Sitt himself proposed.
But in a time when subway lines are being slashed, a fare hike is pending and the state is planning to raise funds with dubious East River bridge tolls, we ask again: why would the city spend close to $200 million to buy Sitt’s land when Sitt’s basic plan for Coney Island is so similar to what the city says it wants?
No baloney! Coney deal in the works
By Mike McLaughlin
The Brooklyn Paper
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, 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 buying 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 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 buy the Thor holdings that fell within 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.
Again , if the city sticks to its rezoning plans for year round with a 9 acre piece of parkland this deal would be fine. If the city nixes the hotels, restaurants, entertainment retail, and indoor development for an entire outdoor amusement complex larger than the 9 acres designated, then CONEY IS IN BIG BIG TROUBLE. Then nobody will develop it into a year round destination and the Coney redevelopment plan will have failed miserably.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
As part of a comprehensive rezoning plan for Coney Island, the city has proposed mapping nine acres as parkland to permanently preserve Coney’s historic amusement core. This area is planned as the centerpiece of the 60-acre comprehensive redevelopment effort by the city of New York to expand Coney Island’s fabled amusement area and create significant growth opportunities for the surrounding neighborhood.
“In anticipation of the rezoning, we are actively engaging with the amusement industry so that we can develop a thoughtful interim plan for the amusement district and then work toward an RFP that will appeal to world-class amusement operators,” said CIDC President Lynn Kelly.
Will Sitt sell all his land or just his parkland piece? Is he going to give up on that other prime property designated for hotels, retail, restaurants and year round entertainment? Only time will tell. The answer to that question may very well reveal whether Coney will stay a winter ghost town for decades. If the city decides to switch and go all outdoor amusement and expand more than 9 acres, Coney's future is quite obviously in big big trouble.
MARINE PARK, a neighborhood of 21,500 people in southeast Brooklyn, shares its name and a boundary with the borough’s largest park, a 798-acre mass that stretches to the marshes of Jamaica Bay.
Monday, November 17, 2008
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,” Mr. Lieber’s spokesman said.
CITY EYES CONEY LAND BUY
By RICH CALDER
Posted: 4:45 amNovember 17, 2008
The Bloomberg administration is in serious negotiations to buy 10.5 acres of real estate in Coney Island that once appeared unobtainable - a move that would save both Astroland Park and the mayor's plans to revive the slumping seaside amusement district, The Post has learned.
Developer Joe Sitt is ready to give up his controversial plan to build a $1.5 billion Vegas-style entertainment complex, which the mayor wants no part of, and instead sell all of the beachfront land he's purchased to the city.
"God willing, we will get this done soon," said Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr., who convinced both Sitt's company, Thor Equities, and the city to go to the bargaining table and is helping broker the deal.
While a price is still being negotiated, it is expected that the city would have to shell out $200 million to $250 million for the land, sources close to the negotiations said.
Recchia said the mayor wants the deal done quickly so the city can finally get going on Bloomberg's 47-acre rezoning plan for Coney Island, which includes building a nine-acre amusement park.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
NY Post excerpt -
Expect fewer rides but more thrifty retail on the Coney Island boardwalk next summer.
The fabled seaside is losing Astroland Park, but it's gaining it's very own "Flea by the Sea."
That's the quirky name of a massive outdoor flea market developer Joe Sitt is planning to operate April through December along vacant Stillwell Avenue land he owns off the boardwalk.
Sitt is also planning other interim uses next summer along the remaining 10 acres of land he owns in Coney Island, including the Astroland site. This includes new rides, games, food stands and live entertainment, said Sitt spokesman Stefan Friedman.
The announcement shows Sitt isn't planning to buckle anytime soon in an ongoing two-year-old game of chicken over Coney Island's future with the Bloomberg administration.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Iced Lattes To Be Served in Sheepshead Bay
Other than the hidden Starbucks in Brighton Beach, which many residents in Sheepshead Bay are unfamiliar with, there are no places here where a person can order, say, a tall soy pumpkin spice latte, no whip. But come January, that will change.
A Starbucks is set to open on the corner of Gravesend Neck Road and Nostrand Avenue, right next to Brennan and Carr, the famous restaurant. The company was in touch with Community Board 15 two weeks ago about plans to move in, and requested a special permit to allow for a drive through.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Theresa Scavo, who likes coffee and “doesn’t like lattes or anything like that.” She said it is going to help the economy in the area and revitalize businesses.
The sale of Starrett City has been delayed because the owner of the sprawling Brooklyn complex and federal housing officials have been unable to agree on the fair market value of future rents. Starrett City Associates had initially expected to select a winning bid by early September, but the owner feels rents set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development are too low, preventing it from gaining fair value for the property.
Starrett City Associates had initially expected to select a winning bid by early September, but the owner feels rents set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development are too low, preventing it from gaining fair value for the property.
Considering the financial crisis, Marty sees major construction phases extended but completed eventually. Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Yards offer more jobs and thereby help the economy, he said. In Coney Island, Marty sees a continued need for amusement. It should be family entertainment for Brooklynites and Coney Island should become a year round presence. While he approves of the city plan which has started activity there, he feels that developer Joe Sitt should be brought in to the operation.
To achieve this future, Marty sees amusements encircled by a hotel, a convention center, live theater, movie theaters and restaurants but none of the retail operations found in malls such as telephone and shoe stores. The borough president’s office has submitted what Marty calls the “first down payment” for a new Coney Island. This is the idea of an open amphitheater with landscaping at Asser Levy Park, capable of holding 5,000 people.
Friday, November 14, 2008
BANK: WE WON'T BAIL OUT ON NETS ARENA
By RICH CALDER
Last updated: 11:27 am November 14, 2008 Posted: 4:50 am November 14, 2008
Despite the slumping economy, a British bank is standing by Brooklyn's planned Nets arena.
Barclays bank vowed yesterday not to exercise an out clause and kill its record $400 million naming-rights deal for the venue, the centerpiece of developer Bruce Ratner's $4 billion Atlantic Yards project.
Watch Out for That Stick, Er, Fist: Professional Ice Hockey Bursts Into Brooklyn
Sunday, November 9, 2008
With 1,609 fans packed inside the Aviator Arena screaming their heads off for their undefeated Brooklyn Aces, things originally looked pretty grim for the New Jersey Rockhoppers.
They have some pics of the game on the site. Professional Hockey arrives in Brooklyn!
Sheepshead Bay a lively enclave
Growing population key to district's success
Neighborhoods far removed from Manhattan are usually regarded as being outside the economic action. But despite a location near the end of the B and Q subway lines, Sheepshead Bay is a top choice for service businesses looking for a booming environment.
The streets of this south Brooklyn enclave are bustling with businesses that include immigrant-owned grocery stores to high-end sushi spots and boutiques.
“I should be speaking five languages,” says Ianthe Kallas-Bortz, manager of Waldorf Realty Co., whose 25 commercial properties are almost 100% occupied. Her father, Kyrie Kallas, opened the business in the early 1960s.
Small service businesses need a swelling population to thrive. Immigrants from Russia, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East have flooded into Sheepshead Bay in the past decade. The area added 11,042 jobs between 1997 and 2007—a 53% increase that dwarfed the city's overall 9.2% rise over the period, according to the Center for an Urban Future.
National chains and franchises are investing, too. Dunkin' Donuts and UPS have set up shop, and such banks as J.P. Morgan Chase and Citi have opened branches. Last November, Acadia Realty Trust, based in White Plains, bought a $20 million, two-acre site that it plans to convert to a mixed-use project with more than 300,000 feet of retail space.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Coney is ‘Jonesing’ for concerts
By Mike McLaughlin
The Brooklyn Paper
It’s the ultimate battle of the band-shells: Coney Island may someday have an outdoor summer concert venue to rival the seaside theaters at Jones Beach and the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey.
Borough President Markowitz’s long-sought dream of building a modern ampitheater in Asser Levy Park is finally becoming a reality as the city gears up to begin construction next year on the $64-million stage set to open in 2012.
“It’s awe-inspiring design will make it a cherished landmark at the gateway to the revitalized Coney Island.”
“New York City’s first covered, outdoor performance space will make our borough a natural stop on the summer concert circuit for entertainers,” Markowitz said in an e-mail to The Brooklyn Paper.
Monday, November 3, 2008
IMAX movies come to S’head Bay UA
By Gary BuisoMonday, November 3, 2008 5:41 PM EST
Brooklyn’s first IMAX theater opened last week in Sheepshead Bay, giving borough moviegoers an immersive cinematic experience that previously was only available in Manhattan.
As first reported in this paper, The United Artists Sheepshead Bay has been in the process of converting one of its 14 existing auditoriums into an IMAX theater, known for a massive screen, superior sound quality and high-end digital effects.
And welcome to the Brooklyn era of Coney Island and Atlantic Yards development!!!! Yes!!!
Marty's dreams come true for Brooklyn! It's gonna happen!
Which, of course, scares the heck out of Cavs fans, who endured many rebuilding years in order to be in a position to complete -- and this year's Cavs team could be one of the best ever. But lose James, and you lose the best player in the game.
“He came out and had a look of pain on his face and was holding his neck. I asked him what was wrong, and he said something happened, and he had lost the feeling in his fingers,” Linda Walker, his girlfriend, told The New York Post then.
Shirasawa was taken to the hospital and operated on, but died
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Recchia just praised the Council for getting work going on redevelopment of Coney Island. "But if I can't be on Council, how will I know that the work will get done?"
Thank goodness for Domenic. Without him I don't think Coney would have ever had a chance for redevelopment. The guys fights like hell for Coney.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Coney Island Development Corporation works to make Coney Island a year-round, world-class recreational oceanfront destination through business development, job creation, new housing and unique cultural events.
Develop year-round businesses to strengthen the Coney Island economy and encourage the development and retention of existing businesses
Improve neighborhood conditions and quality of life, parks and other community facilities
Facilitate the development of vacant and underutilized properties
Encourage the development of new housing to create a stable consumer base in the neighborhood
This is certainly not just about amusements. First and foremost Coney is a Brooklyn neighborhood in desperate need of year-round economic activity.