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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Marty and Bloomberg on Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Eagle -

“The ruling by the state Court of Appeals reinforces previous decisions supporting the numerous public benefits of the Atlantic Yards project — during these difficult economic times and into Brooklyn’s bright future — including the creation of affordable housing, solid union jobs and permanent employment opportunities for Brooklynites who need work,” Markowitz said Tuesday. “Today’s decision from our state’s highest court marks what amounts to the final step in the legal process to make it happen. Finally, we will bring a national professional sports team and a world-class facility back to our borough after 52 years! Brooklyn’s shovels are, and have been, ready. So, let’s pick them up and get to work!”


“The state court ruled in favor of the city because this is a project that the city really needs,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today during a media briefing. “It gives us another great venue for the big events which define New York and for sports, which the public loves. And it’s also going to catalyze development in a part of Brooklyn that has been underused for an awful long time.”

How freakin great is this? Coney and Atlantic Yards developed concurrently. What a month this has been for Brooklyn Development!

YES!!! Brooklyn Nets in 2012!!!!! YES!!!!!!!

NY Times Excerpt

Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn Clears Legal Hurdle
Published: November 24, 2009

The last major obstacle to a groundbreaking for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn fell Tuesday when New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, dismissed a challenge to the state’s use of eminent domain on behalf of the developer, Bruce C. Ratner.

Mr. Ratner, whose 22-acre development has been delayed for three years by a flurry of lawsuits, the collapse of the credit and real estate markets and a glut of luxury housing, plans to begin selling tax-free bonds next month to finance the development’s cornerstone project: an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues near downtown.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the state could exercise eminent domain in seizing the 22 acres, much of which sits within an urban redevelopment area, for Atlantic Yards. Critics of the project had argued that eminent domain on behalf of a private developer was improper and a violation of the state’s Constitution.

“Once again the courts have made it clear that this project represents a significant public benefit for the people of Brooklyn and the entire city,” Mr. Ratner said. “Our commitment to the entire project is as strong today as when we started six years ago. Today, however, this project is even more important given the need for jobs and economic development.”

The developer expects that construction of the arena will take about 28 months, enabling the Nets to move from East Rutherford, N.J., to Brooklyn about June 2012.

Amphitheater - Statement from Marty's spokesperson

Bay News Excerpt -

When contacted, Laura Sinagra, a spokesperson for the Borough President’s office, said that Markowitz “understands that even with a wonderful park rehabilitation like this one, there are those who will see its value and those who may feel differently.”

She added that Markowitz “would like to reiterate that the goal of this project is to renovate the park and ensure it is not only a welcoming eastern gateway to a revitalized Coney Island, but a place where families and residents, including those of Brightwater, Warbasse, Trump Village and Luna Park, can enjoy recreation as well as the free music and cultural programming that residents have taken pleasure in over the years -- a hallmark of Asser Levy Seaside Park since at least the turn of the twentieth century.”

For months, opponents have been chastising board members for not speaking out against the amphitheater.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Take a look back - Part 2


Friday, September 26th 2003, 7:19AM
A plastic bubble over the Wonder Wheel? Heated cars on the Cyclone? A retractable dome for KeySpan Park?

Mayor Bloomberg wants to make Coney Island a year-round attraction - so yesterday, he announced the creation of a 13-member board that will spearhead comprehensive plan and draft an economic development strategy.

"Coney Island's economy really has to be a year-round one to be sustainable," he said as he stood on the famed Boardwalk. "It can't be just tied to the baseball season or to warm weather."

Take a look back

From the now defunct Brooklyn Skyline -

Big Plans For Coney Island?
May 26, 2003
By Jesse Serwer

A major announcement about Coney Island is just weeks away, Councilman Domenic Recchia revealed last week.

“In the weeks to come there will be a major announcement of how [the mayor], along with the City Council, plans to bring back Coney Island in such a way never seen before,” Recchia said at the annual Coney Island Beach opening on Wednesday.

The councilman did not elaborate, and repeated calls to his office were not returned. Recchia and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff are currently in the process of creating a local development corporation for Coney Island.

Recchia’s “announcement” comes on the heels of a plan unveiled earlier this year by the Coney Island-based Astella Development Corporation. After gathering input from community groups, elected *and city officials, local residents and property owners and the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce over several years, the corporation released a plan on its website that includes an indoor sportsplex next to KeySpan Park and a water park and hotel to the east of the amusement park area.

“We wanted to give the city some type of incentive to build these things,” Astella Executive Director Judy Orlando said of the “Coney Island: A Vision Plan.”

Speaking on the Brooklyn cable access show “That’s Brooklyn” earlier this month, Recchia said a Coney Island sportsplex could make New York City more attractive to the Olympic selection committee. The councilman said he would also like to see an indoor pool built.

The sportsplex, as envisioned in the plan, would be an all-purpose arena that could host professional basketball games, amateur and school sports events. The arena would likely be constructed on a platform above the Abe Stark ice rink’s parking lot.

“That makes good sense,” said Orlando. “You could have the arena without taking away from needed parking.”

“This is what we hope to see — now we have to work with the property owners, the city and developers to see what could be implemented and go from there,” Orlando said.

The sportsplex could be the start of a Times Square-like renaissance for Coney Island. Developer Bruce Ratner, who was influential in the revitalization of both downtown Brooklyn and Times Square and whose plan to bring a sportsplex to Coney Island was nixed in the late ’90s in favor of KeySpan Park, still owns property nearby.

An unnamed source said Ratner, who helped bring Disney to Times Square, could be looking once again to attract Disney to Brooklyn’s shores.

The same source said the groundwork for re-development of the entire area is currently being laid down by the city — just look at the renovation of Stillwell Avenue and other area subway stations, the new sand brought in by Army engineers, and even the new, clean bathrooms at Nathan’s.

Astella is currently printing up copies of its plan and hopes to hold a formal announcement and celebration in the near future, saying it wants to market the area and work with the city to implement this.

Coney Island Assemblywoman Adele Cohen said she liked what she saw in the Astella plans but was unsure whether they were feasible amidst the current climate of economic hardship and budget cuts.

“It is hard to say what would be a reality — if anything will come to fruition. There is no money for anything right now,” she said. “But I am delighted to hear about anything that would revitalize Coney Island.”

“A hotel and water park would be just fine - they go along with Coney Island’s mission as a fun place,” Cohen said. “I support anything that would enhance the amusement area, and provide jobs for local residents but the most important thing is to make sure schools have roofs, our people have jobs, and public transportation is affordable.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NY Aviators 4-0

We went to the game last night. Great crowd. Love minor league hockey in Brooklyn!

Excerpt -

The New York Aviators (4-0) proved that they can remain victorious, with a 9-0 win last night against the Rhode Island Storm.

Kyle Tyll scored two goals for the A’s in the second and third period, and John Gofreddo, Vince Geonnetti, Angelo Serse, Chris Robinson, Jesse Felten, Chris Holmes, and Augusto DiMarco included one goal each throughout the game. Jerry Cardinale and John Gofreddo with one assist each ended the game. Chris Testa, Aviator’s goaltender, had another successful win with 24 saves.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Court Decision on Atlantic Yards expected early next week

Brooklyn Eagle excerpt -

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — It is very possible that the New York State Court of Appeals will issue its decision on the constitutionality of eminent domain at Atlantic Yards Monday or Tuesday.

Gary Spencer, the public information officer for the state’s high court, said that decisions on cases with the Court of Appeals will be handed down Monday and Tuesday, and then on the following Tuesday, Dec. 1. However, he did not say whether the Atlantic Yards decision would be included in these. If not, the court will resume session in mid-December.

There has been much speculation that the ruling would be made before Thanksgiving, which is Thursday, but the Court of Appeals has not said anything to that effect.

I have high hopes that ground is broken on Brooklyn's new arena in December and the Nets play here in 2011! Let's Go Brooklyn!!!!!!

After Keyspan Parking lot alienation

by the State Legislature which is expected this winter, my opinion is Taconic makes a move on that parking lot. How much the city asks? Who knows? 50-100 million? Maybe.

Bay News Cover Story - CB13 Drops Brighton Rezoning

This is very good news as Brighton will become one big condo Beach neighborhood to support Coney redevelopment. The Bigger the Better. Get rid of those horrendous bungalows.

Bay News Excerpt -

Community Board 13 no longer considers rezoning Brighton Beach a “priority.”

Each year, the board assembles a list of capital and expense priorities which is meant to encourage city agencies to complete certain projects, such as a rehabilitation of the Coney Island boardwalk. This year’s list boasts more than 50 projects but there’s no request for a rezoning plan for Brighton Beach.

The omission comes months after Community Board 13, at the request of City Councilmember Mike Nelson, voted against the Department of City Planning’s rezoning proposal for Brighton Beach. (Nelson had said he would introduce his own rezoning proposal.)

Following the CB13 defeat, City Planning officials said it’s unlikely that they’d ever again attempt to rezone the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coney Ferry service study

Bay News excerpt -

Ahoy, Coney Island! The city is looking at three sites around the neighborhood that could one day become a new commuter ferry’s port o’ call.

“Finding alternative transportation options is an ongoing part of the city’s efforts to create more accessible and attractive neighborhoods,” New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky said this week. “Ferry service in Coney Island could serve as a complement to the residential and commercial development that will occur in Coney Island over the coming years as part of the Coney Island Comprehensive Plan.”

Sites being considered for new docking facilities include Coney Island Creek, adjacent to Kaiser Park, Steeplechase Pier across from KeySpan Park, and West 8th Street adjacent to the New York Aquarium -- site of the old “Iron Pier.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The absolute best move to keep Coney moving in the right direction towards development

Brooklyn Paper excerpt -

Astroland owner: I’ll be back (maybe)!
By Gersh Kuntzman

The woman who kept Coney Island’s Astroland alive during the neighborhood’s long decline only to see it close down one season too soon says she wants back into the action.

Carol Albert, who sold her land to landowner Joe Sitt, who evicted her last year, says she will make a pitch to reopen the space-themed amusement park now that the city has bought her land back from Sitt.

“Of course I’ll make a proposal,” Albert told The Brooklyn Paper days after the city issued a call for bids last week to run an amusement park on an interim basis until the city can bring in a permanent theme park operator and, if it all goes to plan, transform Coney Island into a 24-7-365 resort, entertainment, retail, and games destination.

Albert said she still has all the rides — except for the water flume —
from the day Astroland closed for good last year after Sitt declined to offer her a third one-year lease extension. Such extensions were necessary because Albert sold her land to Sitt in 2006 for $30 million.

“I’d like to put a new amusement park there, with all the old rides and some new,” she said. “I’d bring in lots of new rides.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Amusements must be successful next summer

It is absolutely imperative that they are a big hit. The only way large scale development of the condos and hotels starts to move quickly is if the city moves fast on the infrastructure and I just don't see that happening very quickly without a big push of people visiting the amusements next summer.

Astroland should make every attempt to come back and the city must make the amusements the biggest hit Coney has ever had next summer. With huge publicity for the area, hotels, theaters, restaurants condo development etc moves. If the amusements fail next summer then the large indoor development takes twice as long to happen.

It all depends on whether the amusements bring Coney back next summer. Root for a new improved Astroland. The publicity would be enormous!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No word on Bullard's land

Right now the old Thunderbolt lot is an extremely valuable piece of property in Coney Island. Most of it is zoned for year round activity with a big hotel on Surf. The part close to the boardwalk is zoned as part of the eventual amusement parkland ( only about 1 acre of it).

No word yet on movement on that land.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Here's the way this rolls

City just put out an RFP for the parcels they bought. 10 year lease. Don't be surprised if Astroland is a strong bidder. City considers this interim but 10 years is a heck of a long time. They want permanent amusements after that. Amusements should be going up already by May of 2010 which is awesome news. We get this fast!

Thor waits for the amusements to go up and the $150 mil infrastructure before starting on the hotels, restaurants and indoor entertainment in Coney. That's going to take a couple of years before this portion will even get started. But that land will skyrocket in value once the amusements are successful so don't be surprised if Marriott, Hilton or Sheraton show very strong interest in Coney hotels. In fact I would say that is to be expected.

This winter the State Legislature should pass the alienation of the Keyspan parking lot land. Taconic then is clear to start building their condos and retail in Coney North and West on the land they already own. I think everone believes Taconic also has its eye on the Keyspan Parking lot for condos. I see Taconic moving very quickly and the buildout begins in 2010.

We are going to see great progress in Coney next year already. The amusement portion will start to spur the condo and hotel interest. Don't be fooled by everybody talking 15 years now. 2010 Coney starts again.

Quite honestly none of this scenario would have happened for Coney if Joe Sitt did not originally invest. All of this is happening because of Domenic's and Joe Sitt's vision for Coney close to a decade ago. The city would have never moved forward without this combination of political and private developer interest. The scenario now is better than anyone could have even imagined when this all started.

Year round Coney is about to happen and VERY SOON!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Get ready for Taconic's 20 condos

Once Keyspan's parking lot is alienated as parkland within the next few months, Taconic should be clear to start building in Coney North and West.

It will be 5 times the size of the Oceana in Brighton.

The land Joe Sitt keeps in Coney East

What is it worth? Since it is zoned for hotels, restaurants, stores and theaters my guess is it is worth more than double the amusement land he sold to the city. Also, and most importantly the city has promised $150 million in infrastructure.

The land is probably worth $200 million +

Joe Sitt calls Lola Staar

Can you feel the love returning to Coney?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Muscle Prediction - All the Thor bashing ends

When? - Very soon. Within weeks, maybe days.

Why? - They all have to work with him now.

It's that simple.

The Real Deal - Q&A with Joe Sitt

Excerpt -

You have squabbled with the city over this land since 2005, when you began to buy it. Over that time, the surviving amusement park section shrunk to a shell of its former self. How does it feel for this deal to be completed?

Yes. It feels really good, because when you work hard, you want to see something moving forward. This is an incredible opportunity to be partners with the city government to create one of the most talked about real-estate development in the United States in decades.

Initially, your plan called for a $1.5 billion mix of time-share hotels and a glass-enclosed water park, in what many compared with Las Vegas. Now that you will be squeezed into a smaller plot, what will it be? Will it look like the old renderings?

We have to redo all of our plans, but we will still have millions and millions of square feet of apartments and hotels and retail and restaurants and enclosed amusements. Yes, it will still have the Las Vegas component to it. The latter versions of the renderings are close to what it will be.

Earlier this year, the city offered to buy 10.45 acres of your holdings there for $105 million, which works out to about $229 a square foot. Now, the city has paid $320 a foot. That's a big increase. And that's close to what Manhattan land sold for at the peak. How did you do it?

Today's focus is not about the dollars. I'm happy, but that's not my main focus. My happiness is having a partner in the city of New York and a commitment of dollars to getting something done there.

More here

What an unbelievable press conference that was!

The key - Splitting the property between the city - open amusements, and Thor - hotels, stores restaurants AND $150 million invested in infrastructure by the city, WOW!!!!!

What a great day for Brooklyn and Coney Island. I can't begin to describe how thrilled I am about this deal going forward. Thor and the city working together at last! One should not ignore Bloomberg's statement about the city working with Joe Sitt on other development projects in addition to Coney Island!

Reposting the link

Happy Days for Coney development!

From the city press release -

"Today marks the start of an exciting new era for Coney Island," said Joseph Sitt, Chairman and CEO of Thor Equities, which will retain roughly half of the property it owns in Coney Island. "From the beginning, we have wanted to work collaboratively with anyone and everyone who shared my childhood dream, and now company mission, of developing a revitalized Coney Island. We couldn't be happier to be working side-by-side with Mayor Bloomberg as a partner in achieving that goal."


Rest of the press release and video

NY Times - Deal is Done

YES YES YES!!!!! They split the land. Go Coney Year Round!!!!!!

Excerpt -

Each side claimed victory, though no one wanted to comment for the record before Thursday’s announcement. While Mr. Sitt got much less than the $140 million he had wanted for 10.5 of the 12.5 acres he owned, the $95.6 million for 6.9 acres came to more than $300 a square foot — a huge amount in the current market. Mr. Sitt, chief executive of Thor Equities, plans to develop hotels and stores on his remaining 5.6 acres.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Great Night for Brooklyn Development

Bloomberg, Marty and Domenic all re-elected. Bloomberg even mentioned Coney jobs in his acceptance speech.

From Atlantic Yards to Coney Island year round development - We just had one great night! Go Brooklyn!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nov 10th - Sitt speaks at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable

Brooklyn Eagle Excerpt -

The next Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights.

Members of the Steering Committee include David Kramer, Hudson Companies, chairman; Eric Brody, The Brody Group; Chris Havens, Creative Real Estate Group; Paula Ingram, Ingram and Hebron; Michael Kaye, Douglaston Development; Tim King, CPEX; Ken Krasnow, Massey Knakal; Jason Muss, Muss Development; Bill Ross, Halstead Property; Joe Sitt, Thor Equities; David Von Spreckelsen, Toll Brothers; and Jed Walentas, Two Trees Management.

YouTube - Joe Sitt talks Coney

Picked this link up on the Coney boards from Tricia. This looks to be very very good news for year round Coney fans, as Sitt is interested in the hotel portion and the city seems interested in the open amusement portion of Coney East.