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City opens checkbook for Coney

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The city has budgeted $200 million in taxpayer money to buy privately held land and make other improvements in Coney Island as part of its turnaround plan for down-on-its-luck neighborhood.

The bulk of the money will be spent on land purchases — and The Brooklyn Paper has learned that those buys will go far beyond the nine acres that the city has slated for an amusement park and cut into 18 acres of property beyond the core theme park zone so the city will have land on which it can develop hotels, restaurants and indoor amusements like a water park, bowling alley or arcade.

“The city is interested in acquiring land from any of the property owners in the 18 acres,” said Libby Langsdorf, a spokeswoman for the Coney Island Development Corporation. Until now, she added, “It has been the city’s interest to consolidate the land in the mapped parkland.”

Roughly $189 million of the original $200 million is left since the city shelled out $11 million for one acre near the famous Deno’s Wonder Wheel last month. An undisclosed portion of that pool of capital money will underwrite infrastructure repairs, such as patching the famed Boardwalk, but the bulk will buy out Mayor Bloomberg’s rival for control of Coney Island, developer Joe Sitt, who owns about 10 1/2 acres of prime land — land that he paid $100 million for since 2005.

Sitt’s territory is split almost equally between holdings in the proposed city-owned amusement zone and the adjoining area. He had foisted his own $2-billion indoor-outdoor amusement park and hotel complex, but the Bloomberg administration considered it DOA. The mayor’s victory in the battle for a third term apparently convinced Sitt to cut a deal rather than wait for a new mayor.

Advocates for redeveloping the faded People’s Playground concede that budgeting hundreds of millions of dollars is questionable public policy, but ultimately support the move because private landowners — before Sitt at least — have shown little inclination to invest in the area themselves for decades.

“Buying all this land may not have been the ideal move from the beginning,” said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, a planning group.

But, he added, “the problem with Coney Island for years, if not decades, was that so many landowners were just sitting on their property.”

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Reader Feedback

Jane Moore from Bay Ridge says:
Can someone tell me how this is suppose to protect the amusement parks? Joe Sitt's plan all along was to get the city to buy the land he needed to develop his condoland on. He wanted the same sweet deal that Taconic is getting. Let us not forget that Taconic has been promised they can build their condos on city owned amusement zoned park land. The property between the old Child's building and Keyspan Stadium. Is the brooklyn paper forgetting that five years ago Joe Sitt said his project would include the aquarium parking lot which is city owned park land zoned for amusements?

I have a strange feeling that we give this guy Sitt the $189 mil he is asking for and who knows what else for everyone elses property and then the next mayor ends up giving it all back to Sitt anyway.

Jane
Nov. 26, 2008, 10:48 am
Bruce from Coney Island says:
The Keyspan parking lot is the land that is zoned as parkland, which is part of the old Steeplechase park. The land across from Childs is not parkland, but was owned by Bullard for a number of years before he sold it to Thor, who flipped it to Taconic.

Before anything can be built on the keyspan parking lot, the land has to have it parkland designation removed by the state legislature. Chance are this will happen, since anyone with a brain (which doesnt include Kruger who has no clue where Coney Island is anyway) is not against it anyway.

Sitt wanted to sell it to a condo developer, where he can make a profit of 10 fold maybe, not 2 times, which he may get from the city.

The only way the city could designate the land for residential would be over the objections of the people who enjoy Coney Island as it currently is, amusement rides. We are a strong voice, and it is doubtfull it could happen in present times.

While anything can happen, including a tidal wave destroying everything from the ocean to Kings Highway, lets stick to what will happen, not what could happen.
Nov. 27, 2008, 11:43 am

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