“The whole concept of the government taking over the site and building it … and then dealing with the state is mind-boggling,” Sitt told The Brooklyn Paper.
Now, Bloomberg’s legacy project heads for a final debate to the City Council, where its fate is uncertain.
The main sticking point is Sitt, who has rejected previous propositions to swap his real-estate portfolio, which includes the former Astroland site and many of the arcade businesses along the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue.
Our intent was always to develop,” Sitt said, perched in the Manhattan headquarters of his company, Thor Equities, as he displayed plans for a colorful patchwork of rides, hotels and retail. “Coney Island was left for dead before we got involved.”
Sitt and his team also attacked aspects of the mayor’s plan, saying that mandates for parking could lead to visitors having to park too far from the amusement area, roughly bounded by Surf Avenue, Stillwell Avenue, the Boardwalk and West 10th Street. Sitt also said that retail stores in that quarter should be bigger and faulted the city for proposing a street grid that would “bifurcate” the amusement area, including running a street through the existing Deno’s Wonder Wheel park.
Bloomberg has run into other obstacles, too. His plan requires state legislation to map the proposed amusement area as parkland, an alleged protection against future redevelopment proposals. But no one in Albany has been willing to sponsor the bill, at least not before the mayor and Sitt come to terms.
• Sitt says Bloomberg has been his toughest foe: “We’ve assembled the land, which is usually the hardest [part], and we’ve gotten people motivated, excited and interested in Coney Island … and for six and a half years, we’ve hit a brick wall with the city.”
• He thinks Bloomberg will fail: “I’ve never seen government succeed as a developer anywhere in the world.”