City seeks proposals to demolish and rebuild Coney Island ice rink

Thin ice: The city has signed off on demolishing Coney Island’s venerable Abe Stark Sports Center to make way for a new facility, but officials got an earful from locals worried about plans to bring in a private developer.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Call it breaking the ice.

The city is seeking proposals from developers to demolish and rebuild a beloved Coney Island ice rink.

The Economic Development Corporation — a quasi-governmental agency tasked with growing the city’s economy — last month released the request for proposals to tear down and redevelop a new public ice-skating rink at the site of the Abe Stark Sports Center, on the Riegelmann Boardwalk between W. 19th and W. 20th streets.

Plans for the property must include a National Hockey League regulation-sized rink — which is about a third of the size of a football field — along with viewing areas, locker rooms, and skate rentals, according to the request for proposals, which also stated that development plans must create at least 30 permanent jobs.

The document adds that honchos will give preference to plans that propose additional uses of the site — such as “complimentary sporting facilities, community space, entertainment, retail and dining” — and address climate-related concerns like sea-level rise and storm surge by including “energy-efficient

The city has $42 million in capital funding allocated to pay for the project, but “proposals that minimize the need for city capital are strongly preferred,” according to the request for proposals.

Proposals are due June 7 by 4 p.m., according to agency spokesman Christian Ficara, who added that officials will determine the timeline for demolition and construction based on the selected respondent’s proposal.

The site, which is more than double the size of a football field, has been used by local hockey teams and figure skaters since it was built in 1970, and draws large crowds of amateur skaters when it opens to the public on weekends.

The demolition and re-construction of the rink — which is currently under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department — are products of the neighborhood’s 2009 rezoning, which aims to expand the amusement district along the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

The rezoning also includes plans to add housing and retail space to the MCU Park-adjacent parking lot just north of the rink, according to the request for proposals, which added that the city will retain about 400 of the lot’s approximately 1,000 parking spots as part of a lease agreement with the Brooklyn Baseball Company, which operates the stadium.

But the plans for redevelopment of the ice rink have not come without controversy: at a meeting last summer, locals — including Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island) — called for the Parks Department to retain control over the rink, alleging that a private developer might make the new facility less accessible to the community.

Other Coney Islanders claim that the city could develop the area without even demolishing the rink.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

More from Around New York