The New Coney Island - Brooklyn's Times Square by the Sea

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Golden Gloves coming up at Aviator

82nd Annual Golden Gloves
Friday, February 6th 7:30PM
Tickets: $20

Muscle's View

Today Astroland's lease runs out and Thor has complete control over the land. My belief is if Thor didn't buy land in Coney we would have never seen the Rezoning move forward in its current form. The city started the CIDC in 2003 ( it was proposed way before then in the Giuliani administration about a decade ago). It is now 2009 and ULURP is just now beginning. The delays have been enormous and truly mindboggling. The clearing of the land by Thor practically forced the city to finally move on the zoning.

There is no doubt Coney desperately needs rezoning. The place is a ghost town 9 months a year. The press and the blogs tie in to the few Nimbys who want Coney to remain just a summer destination and don't give a shit that the neighborhood suffers the rest of the year with high unemployment, high crime and is basically deserted during the winter for the last half century.

Where do we go from here? From a business perspective why would Thor sell the land to the city at an undervalued price when there is a chance Anthony Weiner may be elected as mayor in less that 10 months time? I expect zoning to move forward with lots of yelling and screaming but will be approved by September of this year. I don't believe Thor will come to a deal on the land with the city before the elections. Parkland has to be decided by June and I don't believe Recchia and the State Legislature will let it happen. But I certainly do believe rezoning will happen this year.

Curbed - Looks like Thor bought website for $600


CONEY ISLAND—Because a day doesn't go by without some sort of bizarre bit of news emanating from the southern tip of Brooklyn, an update now on—a Thor Equities-backed pro-redevelopment website that then became a Belgian porn site that, a bunch more crazy stuff happened. Anyway, the domain was recently auctioned off, and a tipster tell us how it all went down: "The auction of has come and passed. There were seven bidders, and eventually the site was won by a bidder who paid $600 for it. This bidder is now known to be Thor Equities." TWIST!

Observer - Mayor to shrink Capital Plan by 30%

Excerpt -

Just as Washington is planning an infusion of spending on construction and infrastructure, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a substantial cutback that would shrink the city’s five-year capital plan by more than $6 billion, or 30 percent.

What’s in the capital plan? Money goes to roads, police stations, economic development projects (such as revitalization of Coney Island and the development of Atlantic Yards). These cuts to the plan come on top of what equated to a 20 percent reduction enacted last year, which spread out the four-year plan into five years.

Now you have to ask if there will be the money to buy Coney land???

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Public Hearings scheduled for Coney and Brighton Rezoning

According to today's Bay News, CB13 is holding Brighton and Coney ULURP hearings on these dates

Feb 25th - Brighton Beach Rezoning - Meeting at CI Hospital Auditorium

March 3rd - Coney Rezoning Hearing - Meeting at Lincoln High School Auditorium.

There are supposed to be 2 Board Hearings for Coney. The Community Board deadline for their recommendation is March 30th. The March 3rd hearing is a tentative date thus far, but I expect there will be 2 hearings in March. Then it goes through Marty, City Planning, and City Council, with a bunch more public meetings.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daily News - Weiner within striking distance of Bloomberg in the polls

More evidence that Thor may very well wait this out.

They called a press conference for this???

Now thats funny!

Village Voice excerpts

So this morning's announcement by the city of a major press conference on "Coney Island redevelopment" at noon, featuring everyone from deputy mayor Robert Lieber to Rep. Jerry Nadler, provided a rare jolt of excitement. Had Thor Equities agreed to sell out to the city at last? Was Astroland moving to the old Thunderbolt site? The Parachute Jump reopening with federal stimulus money? What, what?

The answer, it can now be revealed: Carol Hill Albert is donating the Astroland rocket to the city, which will put it in storage. And then do something with it. Someday. Maybe.

This, apparently, is how far the never-ending three-way battle of wills between the city, developer Thor Equities, and amusement fans has sunk. With its rezoning process about to kick off, both Thor and the Municipal Art Society criticizing them in opposite directions, and the prospect of a Thor-friendly Weiner administration looming, the Bloomberg administration has to be figuring it needs all the good press it can muster; as one Coneyite muttered this morning about today's media event, "It's all they've got."

Quite interesting that the prospect of a Weiner administration is mentioned in this article again. Thor may very well wait this rezoning out through the November elections and then negotiate afterwards.

Crains NY - Astroland Rocket donated to City

Excerpt -

The rocket ship was donated to the city by Carol Hill Albert and her husband, Jerome, whose family operated the Astroland amusement park for 47 years until it closed in 2008.

“My husband, Jerome, and I are heartened to know that the city will be displaying the rocket in a prominent location as part of the new Coney Island where it can continue to educate and entertain,” said Ms. Albert in a statement.

My guess is this artifact ends up in Steeplechase Plaza

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gothamist - Gregory & Paul's auction

Excerpt -

An auction was held yesterday afternoon to liquidate the contents of Gregory & Paul's restaurant, one of the last remaining components that made up Astroland's three-acre space. Gregory & Paul's occupied the corner lot opposite the Cyclone, at Surf Avenue and West 10th Street, and owner Paul Georgoulakos oversaw more than 40 years of warp speed summer seasons catering to hungry beachgoers, selling everything from half-shell clams to cotton candy, funnel cakes to sausages.

The clearing of Coney continues as ULURP begins. (Or ULURP begins because of the clearing of Coney? Think about it.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

For True Brooklynites

Things are slow in Coney news so for your entertainment - The Legendary comic from Sheepshead Bay - Andrew Dice Clay in the HBO show that broke him big 2 decades ago. 2 months after this show he was selling out MSG in a half hour.

Marcie and I saw him perform 12 times in one year back in the 80s. We saw him about 10 days ago at Nokia. It was fantastic! Pure Brooklyn!

Dice will be on Celebrity Apprentice in March. Long live the Diceman!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bloomberg, Markowitz and Zigun all support Coney Amphitheater

Brooklyn Paper excerpt -

In an instance of strange bedfellows, Markowitz’s amphitheater, is supported by Dick Zigun, the founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, and the Bloomberg Administration. Both say the bandshell will draw visitors to the area and could contribute to an amusement and entertainment renaissance in the People’s Playground.

It’s unusual to find them in agreement since an abrupt separation last year in which the so-called Mayor of Coney Island resigned from the city agency overseeing Bloomberg’s plans, Zigun emerged as a harsh critic of the city’s controversial redevelopment policy, which is in the early phases of a lengthy public review.

Will the lemmings follow? I picture spinning heads.

LOL, NY Daily News - In Other Words column

Excerpt -

The story: Developers plan to revamp the Brooklyn waterfront, and Mayor Bloomberg insists their plan "protects and preserves the unique character of Coney Island while bringing new housing, shops and recreational facilities."

In other words: We're making a nice place where people will actually want to live. And - if only to shut up the whining natives who cling to their junk like a cat with a dead mouse - we'll keep some of the old pieces of crap.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rendering of the $64 million Seaside Park Amphitheater

In this Brooklyn Eagle article

Recchia against certain aspects of the Coney plan - Part 3

Now online. Awesome!


While city officials readily acknowledge City Councilmember Domenic Recchia as having played an integral part in redevelopment efforts thus far, he remains a powerful opponent of aspects of the plan – mainly because he says some Coney Island property owners are unhappy with it.

“I am negotiating with the city on the whole rezoning,” Recchia said. “There are certain issues that we’re trying to resolve.”In addition to those unhappy property owners, Recchia says that the parking component of the city’s plan also has many flaws.

Despite the differences, city officials insist that they will not preclude any developer interested in re-imagining Coney Island in the future -- just as long as they conform to the zoning they hope to enact.According to Kelly, that could including everyone from Joe Sitt to Carol Albert.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Albert said, looking at long-term redevelopment.

Astroland’s operator has a much more immediate deadline looming at the end of the month when her lease with Thor Equities expires and she is forced to clear the 3.1 acre site that had housed Astroland Amusement Park for over 45 years. It now appears that the iconic Astro Tower may have to be left behind to an uncertain fate.“We offered to donate it to various places,” Albert said. “It is a not an easy item to accommodate. You can’t put this in your backyard.”

Thor Equities did not respond to requests for comment about the Astro Tower’s fate.

Recchia's Blog

Not one comment about the Rezoning plan.

That says a lot! Something is brewing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recchia against certain aspects of the Coney plan - continued.....

The Bay News article today stated that Recchia is against aspects of the plan mainly because he says some CI property owners are unhappy with it. Recchia was quoted saying "I am negotiating with the city on the whole rezoning. There are certain issues that we're trying to resolve." Recchia also stated that the parking component of the plan had many flaws.

It was also interesting to read Lynn Kelly say that Joe Sitt could be included in the development. Very rare to read that. I will post the article when its online.

We all know this is going to come down to the parkland issue.

South of Surf and East of Keyspan Park

One of the great things about this zoning is that right in the heart of the amusement district there are so many year round indoor activities that I literally begged for in the CIDC meetings in 2003-2005. Hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, rock clubs and an indoor waterpark. It's all in the zoning south of Surf between Keyspan Park and The Cyclone. The city did absolutely the right thing for Coney with these inclusions.

Recchia against certain aspects of the Coney plan

He speaks in this week's Bay News. More later.

Brooklyn Paper excerpts

The city needs to acquire Sitt’s 10-1/2 acres in Coney Island, which cost him more than $100 million to assemble. The just-released Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the mayor’s rezoning plan says the city could acquire the land by buying it or seize it land via condemnation, though the city planners have repeatedly denied that they would resort to using the city’s eminent domain power.

Either way, the land acquisition costs could be staggering.

In addition, the city plan calls for rezoning part of Coney Island’s amusement zone as a nine-acre parkland zone. City officials say that parkland zoning provides for additional state oversight — but that nine-acre park is being created only because nine acres of existing parkland, mostly a parking lot for Keyspan Park, would be demapped as parkland to create the residential towers of Coney West.

The fact that parkland can be transferred so easily raises questions about whether the nine-acre parkland amusement zone would remain a theme park should a future mayor seek a different course for Coney Island.

The paper got the parkland issue wrong. It will be anything but easy getting it through the State Legislature and the City Council

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Amanda Burden quote in the Eagle


The current C7 amusement zoning is highly restrictive and has prevented new, investment in complimentary year-round uses, according to Burden.

“This once vibrant area is now nearly devoid of economic activity once the summer amusement season is over,” she said.

Finally we are getting to the real issue here!

Just a note to readers

ConeyRocks dates back to the ConeyIsland2 Yahoo message board from all the way back to 2002. I shut down that message board to start this blog a few months ago. Just restarted that message board fresh. We have 6 NYC newspaper writers reading over there so I figured we should link them over here now. It was a suggestion from our friend Pat (Mr. Brooklyn Nets)

Yahoo groups board

Comprehensive Rezoning Plan Slideshow

61 slides -

And here is the timeline update for ULURP. Note that CB13 review must be completed by March 30th

Nathans CEO quote in today's NY Post

Excerpt -

"We remain committed to Coney Island in the long term and fully intend to maintain our historic flagship restaurant, which has been the heart of the company since it was established in 1916," he said.

He was responding to language in the city document that states: "Nathan's Famous restaurant . . . is assumed to be replaced under the proposed actions."

City officials said they hope Nathan's will take advantage of the rezoning and expand the site, with possibilities including a sit-down restaurant, catering service or even a hot dog-themed ride.

So it looks like Nathan's will be expanding like the rest of Coney. Bigger is Better!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AM NY says 6 protestors showed up

Nimby overrdrive

AMNY excerpt

About a half-dozen people silently protested the city’s proposal during the meeting, holding up signs that read, “Save Coney Island. Preserve C7 Amusement Zoning.”

Rumors are for the next protest 3 dogs a cat and a stripper will show up as well.

Man this blogging is tiring

What a couple of days. I gotta get to the gym! I am hoping the news slows down a little! LOL


Remember folks - Parkland is separate from zoning. Don't let the Nimbys tell you any different. They try to spread some incorrectly interpreted info around the net that's completely wrong. The parkland issue has to be approved by the State Legislature by June. And it has to get through the City Council to get to the Legislature. If it is not passed ( and I have serious doubts it will be unless Thor sells to the city) that does not mean the City's Rezoning is changed at all . The same ULURP with the same rezoning goes in effect. Modifications are handled through the same ULURP as always in zoning.

Remember the Nimbys are desperate and grasping at any ludicrous ideas of alternative zonings. Don't believe the hype.

Change is coming to Coney :)

Brighton Beach rezoning enters ULURP today as well

As reported here yesterday. I was right as always :)

It will run concurrently with Coney ULURP!

Email from the CIDC

Exciting News

Dear Residents and Friends of Coney Island:

I am writing with some very exciting news.

The City Planning Commission today certified the submission of the City's comprehensive redevelopment and rezoning plan. This marks the beginning of a very important public review process otherwise know as ULURP (the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) that will take place over the next seven months -- a process that will include reviews by the Community Board, the Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council, as well as many opportunities for public comment and testimony. We have worked extremely hard over the past several years to get to this point -- and we are grateful for the incredibly important input and guidance we have received from countless Coney Island residents and leaders -- and now look forward to laying the groundwork for a true renaissance in Coney Island.

In the next few weeks, we'll be in touch with more information about the review calendar and about how you can participate. But in the meantime, I wanted to make sure you were aware of this important step, and let you know that you can always reach us with any questions. In addition, you can check the Department of City Planning's website for updated information and you can download documents related to the environmental review process for the project at the Mayor's Office of Environmental Coordination website. And of course we will continue to update the CIDC's website to keep you informed as the project moves forward.

Thanks for your dedication to Coney Island. I look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Lynn Kelly

Again it comes down to The Parkland

What happens to this plan if the City Council and State Legislature don't approve the mapping and de-mapping of parkland??? Thats the big question here.

Crains NY Business

Excerpt -

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."

Daily News on Astroland

Excerpts -

"As it was on that site, that's done. It's over. That much is painfully apparent," said Albert. About 22 rides and the memorable rocketship have been moved to an undisclosed storage facility until a new location can be found. "But," she said, "Astroland as a business is not done."

Albert reportedly has been involved in discussions with a park operator to bring Astroland to Australia's Gold Coast, a beachside tourist destination drawing 10 million visitors each year.

As the city prepares to revive the ailing amusement district to allow for rides, retail and housing, Albert also said she will seek out a nearby location in Coney Island for Astroland once new zoning is established.

"It may be an unrealistic hope but I'm hopeful that with the new zoning there might be a way for Astroland to make a bid to come back," said Albert, adding reopening Astroland in Coney Island wouldn't happen for at least two years.

Daily News on Plastic Boardwalk

Excerpt -

A board-free boardwalk is taking shape on Coney Island - and a lot of New Yorkers don't like it.

Dilapidated portions of the famed Boardwalk are being replaced with plastic planks instead of wood under a pilot program. "This is a historic Boardwalk," said Maria Ovold, 50, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn."They don't need to replace it - they need to preserve it."

Daily News and The Post on Rezoning

Daily News excerpt

Thor Equities, a development group that controls much of the area's land, declined comment, saying it had not yet closely reviewed the proposal.

The plan calls for 4,500 new apartments, including 900 units of affordable housing, 800 hotel rooms and blocks of glitzy stores along Surf Ave. Attractions may include virtual reality rides, IMAX theaters and a tattoo parlor. The public hearing process, officially the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for Revitalization of Coney Island, calls for a series of hearings.

NY Post excerpt

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.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oh My! - We could be heading for more problems

From the Environmental Study Project Description. Read the last sentence about parkland acquisition. This could be a long long fight now. Possibly court battles???

The City is proposing to acquire privately owned properties on Blocks 7074, 8694, 8695, and
8696 located both within and outside of the area to be mapped as parkland to facilitate the
development of a 27-acre amusement and entertainment district. Private properties proposed for redevelopment would be acquired only through negotiation. Private properties proposed for mapped parkland or streets would be acquired through sale or land transfer or could be acquired by condemnation, as necessary.

Bloomberg's official statement in the Observer

"Last week in the State of the City speech, I discussed the importance of moving ahead with development plans that create the conditions for growth in places of opportunity like Coney Island. The start of the public process is an important step forward. The plan to revitalize to Coney Island will substantially increase the storied amusement area, creating a year-round attraction that will bring tourists and visitors to Brooklyn. And as we enhance that historic asset, we will also pave the way to the north and west for the development of more than 4,500 housing units and the creation of thousands of permanent and construction jobs. 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."

Coney East - From The Final Scope statement

Excerpt -

Coney East
The proposed open amusement area would be located south of Wonder Wheel Way up to the
Boardwalk between Steeplechase Plaza and the Cyclone roller coaster. The blocks and portions of the blocks between Surf Avenue and Bowery would be developed with hotel, enclosed amusements, eating and drinking establishments, and small-scale accessory retail uses. Blocks located between the existing Bowery and the proposed Wonder Wheel Way would be developed with uses limited to enclosed amusements, eating and drinking establishments, and retail.

Tower location and heights would be limited on the development sites. Towers would be
allowed at limited locations for buildings fronting on Surf Avenue and would set back to respect the historic scale of the Bowery. Heights would be limited at lower levels for the buildings fronting on Wonder Wheel Way to provide a transition to the open amusement area. Heights would decrease eastward from West 16th Street towards the Cyclone roller coaster at West 10th Street.

Special District regulations would also include measures to facilitate the provision of on-site and off-site parking spaces. The expansion of the buildable area in the Coney East subdistrict (from that presented in the January 2008 Draft Scope) would increase the capacity for on-site parking.

Block 7074 between the proposed West 16th Street and West 15th Street, which is the largest
block in Coney East, has the capacity to accommodate up to 200 spaces in an above-ground
structured parking garage located at the core of the building. The garage would have to be
wrapped on Surf Avenue, West 15th Street and Wonder Wheel Way by active uses. The Special District text would also allow parking spaces to be satisfied on sites located within an expanded radius from the development. Two sites have been identified as potential sites for parking garages for the amusement park and beach-related uses: Block 7069, Lot 14 located outside rezoning area between West 25th Street and West 27th Street, and Block 8697, Lot 8, which is currently occupied by a surface parking lot for the Aquarium and is located within the rezoning area. These two sites have the capacity to accommodate up to 340 and 400 parking spaces, respectively.

Provisions to encourage the development of public parking spaces in the Coney North subdistrict would also be developed within the Special District regulations. These provisions are described in more details in the section below. It is estimated that up to 300 additional public parking spaces could be accommodated in the Coney North blocks.

Coney Island Rezoning Plan: Notice of Completion Issued for Draft Environmental Impact Statement

It's all here

Coney Island Rezoning Plan: Notice of Completion Issued for Draft Environmental Impact Statement – January 16, 2009

Coney and Brighton Rezoning both on 1/20 City Planning agenda

If you look at the link first posted in the NY Observer's Friday article you will notice that the City Planning Commission has Coney Island and Brighton Beach rezoning both on the certification agenda for tomorrow's meeting -

Brooklyn Certification
Comprehensive Coney Island Plan; zoning map and zoning text amendments; city map
amendment; acquisition of property and UDAAP designation, project approval and
disposition of c-o-p. (K13)

Brighton Beach Rezoning; zoning map and zoning text amendments. (K13)

Looks like we will have concurrent ULURPS going on here. Rezoning for both neighborhoods makes a ton of sense to bring the area back. It is also worth noting that Sheepshead Bay got rezoned about 3 years ago, so you can easily see that Bloomberg has big plans for bringing back all of South Brooklyn by the Sea. Things are looking up!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It will take a total of 7 months, so it should be completed in September. There will be nothing left to fight about after ULURP. The official rezoning plan will be in effect. Thor will either develop or flip to the city or another developer who will build according to the rezoning plan. I doubt that the parkland issue goes through unless Thor flips to the city at which point the city will have to find that mystery developer.

But Bloomberg's rezonings always go through, so Coney will be no different. It will be interesting to see the Nimby and Blog reaction in September, because the only thing left to talk about will be the development schedule. Zoning won't be an issue anymore. Ownership maybe, but not zoning.

Lynn Kelly's letter in the Brooklyn Eagle

It is interesting that Lynn Kelly released "The Current State of Coney Island" part of her CIDC letter in the Brooklyn Eagle last week. To me that means ULURP is very close, as the NY Observer noted on Friday.

I believe we may get a ULURP announcement this coming week. Here is Kelly's piece

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Eagle - Brooklyn College makes Princeton Review list


FLATBUSH — The Princeton Review announced yesterday that Brooklyn College was ranked in its 100 “Best Value Colleges” for 2009.

The Princeton Review, one of America’s most widely known education services and test-prep companies, teamed up with USA Today to present the list, which featured 50 public and 50 private colleges and universities.

The Princeton Review selected these institutions as its “best value” choices for 2009 based on its surveys of administrators and students at more than 650 public and private colleges and universities. The selection criteria covered more than 30 factors in three areas: academics, costs of attendance, and financial aid, using the most recently reported data from each institution for its 2007-08 academic year.

The survey reported that, “On the gorgeous campus of Brooklyn College, you’ll find a very serious and admirably diverse undergraduate population. Students from virtually every imaginable ethnic origin and age group take advantage of more than 120 majors.”

Ever seen Rocky 2?

Mick says to Rock - You're a 200 lb greasy fast Italian tank. Go get him. Run over him!

You can actually feel the momentum now towards change for Coney. Brooklyn waits.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Observer - ULURP set to begin

Excerpt -

City Slated To Launch Coney Island Redo
Questions remain over major landowner's property--and whether people will take the N that far out
Eliot Brown 1:00 PM January 16, 2009

The Bloomberg administration’s plans to remake Coney Island are slated to take a major step forward on Tuesday, as the city intends to launch its rezoning for the historic amusement site. Revitalizing the decaying entertainment destination has been a top priority for the mayor’s economic development team, which has well over $100 million budgeted for the project.

While the date is not yet final—a spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning said the city is “working to finalize” required environmental review documents—the Planning Department’s Web site shows the project on a draft agenda for a Tuesday meeting that would launch the public review. The seven-month public approval process involves a series of community meetings and requires the City Council's assent.

The plan calls for turning a portion of the area that once housed amusements—now vacant sites or parking lots—into apartment buildings and hotels, while creating a new core of entertainment with indoor and outdoor amusements. The plan is a relatively optimistic one, as it attempts to transform an area that sits a lengthy subway ride away from Manhattan and has little remaining market for amusements into a thriving, year-round destination with water parks, luxury apartments and hundreds of hotel rooms.

Gowanus Lounge misses the strategy again

Obviously this is a "rezone or else" strategy that Thor is using and thus far it seems to be working quite effectively, as the city's rezoning plan has moved closer to Thor's plan in the last 2 years. A point totally missed by that post.

I am really starting to wonder why Gowanus Lounge even posts about Coney Island at all. They seem to be so out of touch with what is really going on here in South Brooklyn.

In any case, as I stated last summer, there will be very little left of the old Coney Island when ULURP starts so the question is becoming Save What? And that actually plays into the city hands that rezoning is totally necessary for the area.

Unfortunately rezoning didn't happen 40 years ago as Brooklyn still waits for the area to thrive 12 months a year.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Mayor Bloomberg's State of The City Address today

You can all plainly see here what is REALLY IMPORTANT in Coney Island

Excerpt -

"This year, in Coney Island, Willets Point, and Hunters Point South, we'll lay the groundwork for thousands of new jobs and affordable homes - all well-served by mass transit."

In today's Bay News

The EDC refused to comment on Recchia's comment last week about the City Council's "differences" with the City Coney plan.

It's quite obvious to me that the city is going to run into the same obstacles as last year on the parkland issue. The press really has not picked up on the parkland piece yet this year and it really holds the key to eventual ownership of Coney. They have until June to pass the parkland issue and they have to get it through City Council and the Sate Legislature.

Recchia in the council and Kruger in the legislature have tremendous power on whether parkland designation is stopped or goes through.

Brooklyn Paper on MAS vision - "... And now for something completely useless"

Excerpt -

... And now for something completely useless: The public offers its vision for Coney Island
By Mike McLaughlin
The Brooklyn Paper

With the plans for redeveloping Coney Island mired in conflict among the city, developer Joe Sitt and Boardwalk boosters, the People’s Playground has become an Urban Planner’s Playground.

The Manhattan-based the Municipal Arts Society released its vision for “saving” the People’s Playground, putting out a press release and showing off a series of outrageous (and, like one of the “world’s tallest building” (pictured) and another of a bullet train from Manhattan operating on regular subway lines, unbuildable) renderings of what the group thinks should happen in the hardscrabble amusement zone.

The group’s “Imagine Coney Island” project overlaps with the city’s current plan, in that it also recommends that the Bloomberg Administration buy up land in the amusement zone and calls for new signature rides — though neither the city nor the Municipal Art Society has explained where the money is going to come from.

More here

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gowanus Lounge nonsense

They talk about MAS being late to the game, with these Coney debates starting 3 years ago. 3 Years ago??? The CIDC was developed in 2003 - 6 years ago. They have been holding public meetings since then, which a lot of concerned Brooklyn residents went to. My guess is Gowanus Lounge never attended 1 of the over 20 meetings. At one point meetings were held monthly. Gowanus Lounge is very late to the game and has absolutely no clue about the need for a 12 month a year vibrant Coney Island.

Today's NY Post article

Excerpt -

The city says it will consider the organization's suggestions, but that it would not delay the rezoning process to incorporate any of them. The city's land use review process for the rezoning is expected to kick off next month and take seven months to finish.

The MAS believes the city - not a private developer - should spearhead the rebuilding of Coney Island. Still, some of the images resemble renderings submitted by embattled developer Joe Sitt of Thor Equities for his failed $1.5 billion Vegas-style amusement complex - minus the controversial high-rise condos, of course.

If done right, Coney Island could attract 3.5 million visitors a year and support the retail space, hotels and restaurants that would complement amusements, a spokesman for the art society said.

More here

MAS ideas have no power with no developer behind it. It's like a fantasy world. I don't understand why they are soliciting these ideas so late in the game with no developer to build it??? Glad the city is forging ahead with rezoning.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comments on the Times Blog

Some of the strangest stuff I have read yet. Some people are trying to say that Brooklyn ( the 4th largest city in this nation!) cannot support a year round Coney because Coney is too far away from Manhattan. Good Lord. And then some guy is saying that Coney doesn't need more winter activities like bowling alleys because it has Shell Lanes!!! WHAT???? Miniature Shell Lanes!!!! LOL!!!! That mecca of US bowling alley attractions :) ROFL

Anyway its probably the 3 people that post on the CI message boards under 10 different screennames, but its worth a look. Its rather hilarious to read the chapters of pure logic gone wild!

CoasterBuzz PodCast - Thor Equities wants more Coney Property

Excerpt -

Thor Equities wants to buy more property around Coney Island. Apparently they want to go to battle even more with the mayor.

1010 WINS - Aerial view of Astroland Dismantlement

It will be interesting to see what Coney looks like during the entire 7 months of rezoning.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Best Gym in South Brooklyn

And I have been to all of them. New York Sports Club on Shore Parkway. Free weight area is huge. Machines are top notch. 5 Racquetball courts as well.

More here

This is right next to the Caesar's Bay Shopping Center and next door to the proposed BJ's mega shopping development. Right on the Belt.

Bowling in Brooklyn

We tried out Gil Hodges Lanes in Mill Basin. Its size has been cut in half because of the Golds Gym built next door (not a bad gym by the way). Obviously the bowling alley is not what it used to be. Next try will be Maple Lanes in Bensonhurst which I hear is still huge and fantastic.

Sheepshead Bay's own Andrew Dice Clay at Nokia Friday

My favorite comic from the 80s. Sheepshead Bay born Andrew Dice Clay is back at Times Square's Nokia Theater, this Friday January 16th. Just got a call about this. Can't wait! More info here

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This is a Protest???

Looks like Coney is running short on Nimbys these days!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Joe Sitt wins Curbed Real Estate Award

The Not Afraid To Court Controversy Award

Developer Joe Sitt of Thor Equities have continually shown they are not gun shy when it came to
publicly feuding with key public officials, refusing to budge on the closing of bedraggled, but beloved, landmarks like Astroland or going so far as to engage in putting "FOR LEASE" signs on every building he owns in Coney Island on Christmas Eve. Friends, you have to have some seriously unafraid of controversy cojones for this sort of thing.

Eagle - Thor controls the future of Red Hook

Excerpt from the Brooklyn Eagle

Bringing an income-producing venture into the Basin — Phoenix Beverages — to occupy all of the sheds on Pier 11 is a very smart move. It will anchor the basin and will help make other proposed ventures possible. Two of these ventures are a docking facility for New York Water Taxi ferryboats and establishing a cultural presence aboard the Mary Whalen, which could lead to other initiatives.

Any other big-league ventures in Red Hook will have to wait out the economic woes just like everywhere else. But what will probably determine Red Hook’s future is the fate of the waterfront site owned by Joe Sitt of Thor Equities, next to the Beard Street warehouses.

It will be one thing if Sitt goes the IKEA route with a large store, very much another if he moves primarily toward residential development. Making something out of the Atlantic Basin is finally a step in the right direction.

Wrapping up a very eventful Coney week

  • Thor is negotiating to buy the Thunderbolt lot from Bullard
  • ULURP for new zoning is expected to start in February
  • Astroland is being completely cleared this month
  • Lola Starr is insulting Thor after being evicted for insulting Thor
  • Recchia and the City Council may be blocking the parkland designation
  • The Nimbys and Blogs are pulling their hair out of their heads

Brooklyn Eagle - City Drastically Revises Red Hook Waterfront Plans


City Drastically Revises Red Hook Waterfront Plans
by Dennis Holt (, published online 01-06-2009

Beer Distributor Tapped To Take Over Entire Pier

BROOKLYN — The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is returning to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin with a symbolic hat in hand, but also with a new development plan that is ready to be executed.

The new plan, called a “balanced strategy,” replaces an earlier plan that suggested more glitz and glamour, but drew few if any responses to request for proposals. That plan was tied in with a more dramatic plan for the piers north of the basin that proved completely impractical.

One company that was a victim of the failed plan, however, is now ready to become a linchpin of the new plan for Atlantic Basin. Phoenix Beverages, a major beer distributor, primarily of Heineken, was supposed to move to Pier 7. Under the new plan, it will now occupy all of Pier 11 and part of another building.

The new strategy for the basin will also include a docking facility for harbor-operated boats, a cultural institution, a green space that will be part of the Brooklyn Greenway, and a home port for the Governors Island ferry. The basin will continue to serve the new cruise terminal on Pier 12, which last season handled 300,000 passengers.

More here

Jewish Press - The changing face of Boro Park

Very interesting article in the Jewish Press -


To what can we attribute Boro Park's having become the world's premier Orthodox Jewish neighborhood?

I think there are three probable spiritual explanations. First, Boro Park was probably blessed because of all the mitzvos and maasim tovim done here. In the earliest years, the Jews who first came here were very charitable even though they were not frum. They gave tzedakah and did chesed generously.

Second, the Gemara in Shabbos says one should always seek to dwell in a city that was only recently populated because its sins are few. Boro Park was one of the newer communities in New York City. It had less time to commit the aveiros other communities committed, and maybe that is why it became a city of refuge and was not destroyed like other communities.

Third, Boro Park was a very peaceful and tolerant community. Even though there were different groups, and later on many branches of chassidim living here, they always lived together in peace and harmony. We had Orthodox, Conservative and Reform - and never a real conflict.

We also had different ethnic groups. Everyone who came here accepted the environment, adjusted to it, and didn't try to change it. Shalom, peace, is a great blessing, and that, I think, is the blessing of Boro Park.

What are the current trends in Boro Park?

The population has been greatly increasing and changing. Non-Jews and many Modern Orthodox Jews moved away from the neighborhood, and more chassidic Jews moved in. There is physical and spiritual internal growth. We are much more integrated than other frum communities. We mix more. We daven in each other's shuls more. More and more yeshiva students are opting to sit and learn and not go to college. Girls want to marry boys who are sitting and learning. The community, like Orthodoxy in general, moved to the right in religious commitment and observance.

The chesed and tzedakah endeavors of Boro Park are proliferating. Alongside the increased Torah learning, we have myriad chesed organizations including many bikur cholim societies, Chaverim, numerous gemachs, Hatzolah, Shomrim, just to name a few.

More here

WSJ - Developer May Scale Back Plan for Nets' Brooklyn Arena

This is bad news, but as long as its built, thats whats important for Brooklyn.


Developer May Scale Back Plan for Nets' Brooklyn Arena

Developer Bruce Ratner is considering scaling back his ambitious plan for a $1 billion Frank Gehry-designed arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team in downtown Brooklyn.

Mr. Gehry's design has been one of Mr. Ratner's major selling points as he has battled neighborhood residents and pressed government officials for approvals and subsidies. But now, with the recession and credit crisis in full swing, the Nets and Mr. Ratner are exploring new concepts for the arena that would transform it from an architectural masterpiece into a much less expensive and much more traditional sports venue.

"We are continuing to speak with many arena experts and working hard to find ways to build a world class venue in an incredibly difficult economic environment," the spokesman said.

More here

Friday, January 9, 2009

Statement from Thor in the NY Times City Room article

Thor Equities said, through a spokesman, Stefan Friedman, that it was “committed to a year-round, dynamic Coney Island that will include amusements, games, shopping and entertainment.”

I know it's hard for you Nimbys to read that statement but you should read it twice. Coney will change to year-round. Bloomberg, Marty, and Recchia all want it to change to year-round.

Those Blogs that can't see their nose in front of their face

The CIDC was put together in 2003. 6 Freakin Years ago. Bloggers wonder why Coney is being cleared before rezoning is completed.

Coney is being cleared in order to get REZONING TO START! 6 YEARS OF THE CIDC and where is the zoning?

More talk about Astroland on the net

Some people are saying that it looks like Astroland will be completely cleared by the summer season. (Rolling eyes)

Astroland's lease runs out at the end of this month. Anything on the site reverts to Thor ownership February 1st. So the site is obviously going to be cleared by this month. Coincidently just when City ULURP is set to begin. Maybe not coincidence?

Like I said last summer - Very little of the old Coney Island will be left when rezoning for the new Coney Island begins. What's really left to save? A question everybody has to ask. Even the Nimbys.

As the Bay News article circulates through the Nimby Blogs

A lot of Nimbys don't comprehend what Recchia means by the City Council's vision or City Council's plan. They are dumbfounded. I am even getting email questions about it! Look at the question Recchia answered in the article for goodness sake!

Quite obviously you have to look at the parkland piece. Those 9 acres have to go through council and the state and be approved as city parkland, and the Keyspan Park lot would be removed as parkland by the city and state. All this has to happen by June when the state legislature ends its sessions to decide.

This parkland issue is all separate from zoning. Will Recchia let it get through Council and Kruger let it get through the state legislature? What if the current landowners don't want to sell? Will they still make it parkland? Wake up and smell the coffee people!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Recchia drops Coney bombshell in today's Bay News!.....Part 3

Article is now online. Here are the excerpts that I wrote about this morning. Damn I am good at this!


City Councilmember Domenic Recchia - who also attended the event - wasn’t so sure. When asked if he supports the city’s efforts to designate parkland and acquire land in the Coney Island amusement district, the councilman representing the 47th District said, “We have our differences.”

Without elaborating, Recchia said that the City Council has its “own plan” and its “own vision” for the area.

“One thing though, Abe Stark has to stay,” Recchia said. “There’s no place for the hockey leagues to play.”The councilman dismissed alternative plans for possibly constructing a new facility somewhere near the Wonder Wheel as unfeasible.

“It can’t be in front of Deno’s,” he said.

Kapur, meanwhile, said that the city remains “neutral” with respect to prospective amusement-themed developers, but cautioned major players that “zoning sets in place what’s appropriate.”

More here

Daily News - Thor Brings Hammer Down on Lola Starr


Thor brings its hammer down on Coney Island's Lola Staar
Updated Thursday, January 8th 2009, 6:16 PM

Lola Staar, the funky, pink-hued clothing boutique and gift shop on Coney Island's Boardwalk has been booted from the fabled seaside strip.
Nearly a dozen Boardwalk businesses had their locks changed Christmas Eve by developer
Thor Equities.

But from Nathan's Famous to the legendary dive bar Ruby's, all but Lola Staar are expected to get new leases this month - at double the rent.

Lola Staar proprietor Dianna Carlin believes it was her outspoken criticism of Thor Equities that prompted the developer not to renew her lease, which ended last week.

"No one knows better than me how vicious and evil they are but it still astounds me," said Carlin, who said Thor official Sam Sabin told her, "We're kicking you out. Have a Happy New Year."

Thor spokesman Stefan Friedman insisted most of the businesses would be extended new leases and said all of the storefronts would be filled by the next amusement season.

"Thor has had positive negotiations with a majority of our tenants in Coney Island," said Friedman. "We are confident every single square foot of property that Thor owns in Coney will be open and active next summer."

More here

Question - Did Dianna Carlin seriously believe Thor would keep her as a tenant after she constantly lambasted Thor in the press for how many years now??? What was this woman thinking??? That Thor loves her for what she has said???

Recchia drops Coney bombshell in today's Bay News!.....continued

Another part of the article which I failed to mention this morning is City Planning Director Purnima Kapur stated that the city remains "neutral" when it comes to prospective amusement-themed developers, while also stating that zoning will dictate appropriate development.

With Recchia's and Kapur's quotes from the article one can sense the momentum leaning towards current owners such as Thor. This city parkland issue has until June to play out. It's obviously running into obstacles.

Recchia drops Coney bombshell in today's Bay News!

When asked about the plan for the city designating and acquiring parkland, Recchia stated that "we have our differences" with the city. Recchia went on to say that the City Council has its "own plan" and "own vision" about the future of the area.

Also noted that Abe Stark rink must stay where it is.

Very interesting indeed. Looks like the parkland piece still will be a very contested issue. I will post the article link when its online.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brooklyn View - Coney YMCA certified into ULURP

Excerpt -

On Jan. 7, the Department of City Planning certified plans for a community center proposed for Coney Island, according to Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure is set to begin.

“This is a concrete step toward creating the Coney Island of our dreams, one that thrives year-round and attracts record tourists while retaining the spirit of the community,” said Councilman Recchia.

The community center, located at West 29th St. and Surf Ave., would be a 40,000 square-foot YMCA with affordable housing units.

The center was developed with significant input from the Coney Island residents. It will include a swimming pool, a gymnasium and flexible, multi-purpose spaces for programmed activities. The $56 million project will also include about 150 units of affordable.

More here

The Nimbys and Blogs are in stunned disbelief

Here is where Coney stands as we enter ULURP in February. The city's plan includes hotels, entertainment retail, restaurants and open and enclosed amusements in Coney East. Thor's plan is similar. Both good plans for year round Coney. The Nimbys and Blogs are of course against both plans. Astroland is being cleared, Lola Starr's lease on the boardwalk has run out and Thor is making a run at Bullard's land. All as we enter a 7 month ULURP process. The Nimbys and Blogs are holding protests where about 5 people show up and they are trying to keep Coney intact - Deserted 9 months a year. They are against the city plan. They are against Thor's plan. And Coney is being cleared as they protest.

Could Thor be in any better position as the rezoning process starts next month, and could Coney be in any better position to GET THE REZONING that's so desperately needed? The Nimbys and Blogs are in stunned disbelief.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brookyn Eagle - ULURP to start by February

Excerpts -

Coney Island Planning Moves Forward a Step
by Linda Collins (, published online 01-06-2009

Rezoning Plan Could Begin ULURP in February
By Linda Collins Brooklyn Daily Eagle
CONEY ISLAND — The city’s Coney Island Comprehensive Rezoning Plan will soon be heading for its public review process and may be looking at an end-of-summer completion date, according to Lynn Kelly, president of the Coney Island Development Corp.

“The Environmental Impact Statement is almost complete, certifying will come in the next few weeks — possibly by the end of January or early February — and then ULURP [the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] can begin,” said Kelly, speaking at a panel on Coney Island yesterday sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and its Real Estate and Development Committee.

“Following ULURP, we will be issuing an RFP for a developer,” she said.

There are 50,000 residents and a very high unemployment rate (“it’s double the average for the entire city”), according to Kapur.

In addition to the high jobless rate, there are other severe challenges, she said, like a lack of neighborhood retail and services, a lack of diversity in housing options and the seasonality of the area (“it’s desolate except in summer”).

6.8 Million Square Feet of Development Planned
The plan as described by Kapur has the potential for 6.8 million square feet of development to include 1.1 million square feet of amusement and performance space, 500,000 square feet of retail, 950 hotel rooms and 4,500 units of housing with 900 of those affordable.

More here

Just a note, but can you believe Lynn Kelly actually stating the city will be putting out an RFP for a developer when Thor is going after the Thunderbolt lot in addition to all their other holdings in Coney? LOL Lynn Kelly's quotes are hilarious sometimes. Get in the real world Lynn! If Thor gets that lot its game, set, and match. No more to argue at all.

I do actually believe the city zoning plan is not too bad on the whole though. Very similar to Thor's plan.

The Brooklyn Paper has the story too

Excerpts -

Bullard, who’s owned the land bounded by the Boardwalk, Surf Avenue, Keyspan Park and West 15th Street since 1985, said Sitt’s recent offer of $91 million was far more than the Bloomberg Administration’s bid.

“I don’t want to even mention the [city’s] number,” Bullard told The Brooklyn Paper. “It was not a realistic number.”

Bullard said that after years of allowing the land to sit idle, he’s jettisoning it because “I’ve been looking around at the economy” and “it’s time for me to get on with my life.”

Thor’s interest in adding to its 10–1/2-acre empire was first reported on Monday in the New York Post, and a spokesman for the company told The Brooklyn Paper that the two sides have been hammering out a deal.

If Sitt gets Bullard’s land, the land-acquisition pricetag for the Bloomberg plan would nearly double. That could put pressure on the city to relent and back the zoning change Sitt seeks.

More here

Monday, January 5, 2009

Working a strategy

How do you like Thor making its move on the Thunderbolt lot right when the city is about to enter the ULURP process on Coney? Could the timing have been any more strategic? A lot of the Nimbys are probably in stunned disbelief right now. You just cannot underestimate a smart Brooklyn kid from Bensonhurst. It's quite obvious Joe Sitt is playing Brooklyn style hardball.


This would be just awesome for Coney development. Let's hope it happens -

NY Post excerpt -


Mayor Bloomberg's plans for revitalizing Coney Island are in jeopardy as a controversial developer who owns most of the amusement district is now planning to expand his vast portfolio of boardwalk land rather than sell it to the city, The Post has learned.

With negotiations to sell his 10.5 acres of beachfront property to the city stalled, developer Joe Sitt is close to beating the city to three more acres of property the mayor covets - upping the stakes in their ongoing game of chicken over Coney Island's future.

Kansas Fried Chicken king Horace Bullard confirmed yesterday that he's "leaning toward" selling the former Thunderbolt rollercoaster site to Sitt for $91 million. He also said the city's offers for the land were so low, he never took them seriously.

Purchasing Bullard's site would expand Sitt's boardwalk portfolio to west of Stillwell Avenue as the developer would control most of the land stretching from Keyspan Park to the Cyclone rollercoaster.

Sitt spokesman Stefan Friedman revealed the developer needs the extra space for a "massive entertainment-amusement" complex he wants to set up on the boardwalk this summer and beyond, which is a back-up plan should deal to sell to the city not be reached.

More here

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Marty dedicates Polar Bear Walk

On Thursday, December 11, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz joined the Coney Island Polar Bear Club for the official naming of Polar Bear Club Walk. The Club was founded in 1903 and is most famous for its annual cold weather “dips” into the frigid waters off Coney Island.

Pic here -

Video - Dianna Carlin on Reporter Roundtable

Just how great was 2008? Time to put the last twelve months to the test in our special ‘Year in Review’ episode of Reporter Roundtable! Host Gersh Kuntzman of the Brooklyn Paper is joined by Dana Rubinstein of the NY Observer plus special guests Mike Baker, Manager for Red Hook’s Ikea and Dianna Carlin of the Lola Staar roller rink in Coney Island.

This video was aired on BCAT in mid December, before Thor didn't extend the lease.

Brooklyn Eagle - Aquarium could suffer due to state cutbacks

Excerpt -

Funds Evaporating at the Aquarium
James Forrest Dohlin, director of the Aquarium, said that of alternative sources, private donations and contributions are down. At any rate, he said, the private sector contributes less than 50 percent of the Aquarium’s costs. And in today’s economic climate, private donors are understandably more reluctant to give money.

“Our costs are fixed,” he said. “Animals don’t stop eating and don’t stop needing care. When we are faced with these kinds of really severe and disproportion cuts, we have to have everything on the table. That includes cutting staff, reducing services and looking for additional sources of income.” Some projects at the Aquarium are already under way. Among these are the plans for a new fa├žade and the building of a new conservation hall that will showcase corals and “rift valley lakes” in East Africa and the Amazon. These exhibits, he said, are set to open in the spring of 2010.

The larger question, he said, is what will happen to the much-heralded plans to redo the Aquarium’s exterior and to enlarge the shark exhibit. “These types of budget cuts will make this so much more difficult,” said Dohlin.

More here -

Trying to find a good sports bar in South Brooklyn

We used to go to the Brooklyn Dodger in Bay Ridge all the time back in the 80s and 90s. That's long gone. Tried the Kettle Black on 3rd Ave last night. Chicken wings are not bad but not like the Dodger. Anybody have any other good ones they know of send em my way. Thanks!

Received letter from the CIDC

Nothing new. Rezoning should take 7 months once ULURP starts early this year. Wish they would start already. We are 30 or 40 years overdue on rezoning of the area. It's quite sad.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Video - Coney Island Polar Bears

From NY1

Looks like another Coney Nimby protest

where nobody showed up again

What a surprise.

Gateway Shopping Center major expansion

More shopping and more residential to come. Here are the recommendations from Marty,%202008.pdf

Coney Island Prepares for Change

Bay News excerpt -

As ambitious plans to bring more amusements and condominiums to Coney Island continue this week, many already living here are wondering if they’ll have a place in the new scheme of things.

Unlike many, O’Dwyer Gardens resident Deborah Carter says she’s in a good position to buy a new Coney Island condo — but she worries about her neighbors.“You’ve got to get ready,” the retired claims examiner said. “I’m for development. Coney Island is in bad shape and they should have done it years ago. It needs to be done — but hopefully there will be a place for people who can’t afford it.”

Carter spoke at a personal finance workshop recently held on Mermaid Avenue aimed at better preparing residents for the sweeping changes that 4,000 to 5,000 new residential units will bring to Coney Island’s housing market.