Astroland — the beloved Coney Island amusement park that supposedly closed shop for good this fall — has gotten a one-year stay of execution.
Thor Equities, the real-estate giant that bought the land under the amusement park from owner Carol Albert in 2006 and gave Astroland one final season this summer, announced on Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with Albert to keep her rundown park’s 35 rides operating for one more season.
“Thor is fully committed to keeping amusements and games as part of the fabric of Coney Island for decades to come, and today’s agreement — reached after discussions with Albert and the community as a whole — represents the first step in that direction,” said Joe Sitt, Thor’s president, who would not reveal the financials of the deal.
Astroland supporters hailed the deal.
“Astroland represents a very tangible link to the 1960s and 1970s,” said Michael Immerso, author of “Coney Island: the People’s Playground.”
“It really embodies the old Coney Island.”
Dick Zigun, the de facto Mayor of Coney Island and the founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, called it “terrific news,” particularly because it would save 300 carnival jobs filled by “poor people from the area.”
This marks the latest development in a saga as topsy-turvy as the Cyclone rollercoaster (which Sitt can’t touch thanks to its landmark status, by the way).
Sitt has been buying land in and around Astroland for years, and says he wants to turn the People’s Playground into a $1.5-billion, Las Vegas style hotel, condo, theme park and retail attraction.
To do so, he’d need a city rezoning — something City Hall has rejected so far.
Wednesday’s agreement with Albert comes just weeks after Thor Equities offered eight Boardwalk vendors — including Ruby’s, Cha Cha’s and Shoot the Freak — a similar year-long extension on their properties.
Albert promised to join those vendors to create one last “super season” next summer.
Beyond that, the future of Thor’s plan remains as cloudy as the winter sky over Surf Avenue. Later this fall, the Economic Development Corporation will unveil its long-awaited master plan for the area — a plan that calls for some of the things Sitt wants to build, but does not include the most-controversial part of Thor Equities’ plan: residential units or a hotel inside the amusement area.
©2007 Community News Group
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