The City Council approved the Coney Island redevelopment plan this week – and the city reportedly neared an agreement to buy the majority of Thor Equities’ properties.
Councilmember Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island) released a four-page statement applauding the plan’s approval, which passed by a vote of 44 in favor, two against and with one abstention.
“Today is truly a historic day,” Recchia wrote. “We were able to develop a rezoning plan that will usher in a new era for this iconic neighborhood, guaranteeing that it will thrive every single day of the year.”
“Right now, only three acres of active amusements remain at Coney Island,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “By approving our administration’s plan to revitalize Coney Island, the Council has helped us breathe new life into a city treasure that’s been in decline for decades.”
With its plan, the city promises jobs, hotels, new residential buildings, affordable housing and year-round attractions.
But the plan has hinged on Thor Equities, which owns 10.5 acres of land in the heart of the amusement district and hoped to construct hotels and commercial buildings for large companies like Costco, along with amusements.
According to published reports, Thor is nearing an agreement to sell most of its land to the city.
Thor spokesperson Stefan Friedman said, “Thor is continuing to work with the administration to ensure the best outcome for Coney Island. We are hopeful that these negotiations will result in a timely resolution and a brighter day for Coney.”
Local residents and ride advocates have criticized the city’s plan for Coney Island. They say there’s not enough affordable housing, and also fear that high-rise hotels would be built near roller coasters. Ride advocates believe there will be less focus on major amusement rides and more focus on everyday attractions like bowling alleys.
Juan Rivero, spokesperson for the activist group Save Coney Island, commented on the City Council’s approval of the plan, saying, “This is a sad day for New York City. As a result of this rezoning, people across the city and around the world who love Coney Island could see its historic amusement district shrunk, covered up and blocked off with high-rises, its history destroyed and its potential squandered.”
“This plan shrinks Coney Island’s famed amusement district, leaving behind a tiny amusement park of only 12 acres. It allows four huge high-rises — up to 27 stories tall — in the heart of the historic amusement district, walling off the beach and the rides. It invites developers to tear down Coney Island’s handful of historic buildings, including Nathan’s Famous and others that are more than a century old,” Rivero continued. “If the Bloomberg administration does not have the perspective and the humility to revise its plan, this rezoning will be remembered as a disgraceful moment in the history of our city, akin to the demolition of the old Penn Station.”