New Coney Island to open after land deal

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2009 7:54 AM

The historic and mostly dormant Coney Island amusement park district in New York City will be revived by next summer with some new attractions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and developer Joseph Sitt said Thursday.

The city purchased 6.9 acres at the heart of Coney Island from Sitt's Thor Equities for $95.6 million after years of tense negotiations, the pair announced at a City Hall news conference.

The city plans to create a year-round destination that includes a 12 1/2-acre outdoor amusement park within a 27-acre amusement and entertainment district.

The project also includes new restaurants, movie theaters, retail and the city's first new roller coaster since the Cyclone was built in 1927. The plan also includes nearly 5,000 units of housing, including 900 units for low- and moderate-income families, officials said.

The project was expected to create more than 25,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs, city officials said.

"When tourists come to New York we want Coney Island to be on their must-do list right next to Times Square and the Empire State Building," Bloomberg said. "We're trying to find things in all five boroughs to make sure the economic development that tourism brings is shared by everybody."

Bloomberg said the cost of not buying the land was too steep and that leaving the tract empty for another decade would have amounted to lost jobs, tax revenues and housing.

All existing Coney Island businesses will remain through at least next summer, Seth W. Pinsky, president of the city's Economic Development Corp., said. After that, city officials will assess whether the businesses fit into the new project.

During its decline, the amusement district has shrunk to just three acres, the city said. Attractions were cleared to make way for a resort that Sitt had envisioned, but his plan never materialized.

The city will begin soliciting proposals on Friday from potential developers and operators for a "first-phase" on the portion of the cite scheduled to open in summer 2010.

Later, the city will solicit proposals to find a permanent developer for the amusement park. The city also plans to spend $150 million on infrastructure and rebuilding sections of the Boardwalk and a new Steeplechase Plaza, officials said.