Coney Island’s historic Astroland Park did the tilt-a-whirl this week — first putting all its rides up for sale, then apparently pulling them back as elected officials scrambled to give the doomed amusement park one last ride.
The topsy-turvy week started with the 44-year-old funland posting its rides — including Dante’s Inferno, the water flume, and the dreaded Pirate Ship, but not the city-owned landmark Cyclone rollercoaster, of course —on a carny auction Web site, Ital International.
The move was not a surprise, given that late last year, a real-estate developer bought the land under Astroland from the Albert family and announced that the amusement park would be razed after the 2007 season.
So the real surprise came a few days later, when Carol Albert abruptly announced that the rides were no longer for sale — and that she was desperate to find vacant lots near the fabled Boardwalk to house Astroland for another season or two.
Elected officials rushed to lend their support — moral and otherwise.
“Astroland and the Albert family have helped define Coney Island’s unique character over the last half-century,” said Borough President Markowitz. “And we are working with them and the city to find the best way for them to continue to contribute to its bright future.”
Others have a different vision of that bright future. Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities bought the Astroland site late last year to level and build a $2-billion Vegas-style amusement-condo complex.
Thor’s theme park would include movie theaters, beachfront luxury condos, a 150-foot waterslide, a multi-level carousel, and first new roller coaster since the Cyclone was built in 1927.
To build his Xanadu, Sitt needs a city rezoning — one that city officials have been reluctant to give, though negotiations continue. Neither Sitt nor city officials would comment on those talks for this article.
In the meantime, the Albert family and its supporters spent this week hoping to find a new place for the fun, eyeing three empty lots on the Boardwalk, sources said.
“I know the spaces, and they’ve been empty for years,” said Stan Fox, a coin-operated game distributor who volunteers at the Coney Island History Project. “Astroland can grow at the other locations. We need more amusements, not less.“
Fortunately for Astroland, the city appears eager to help the family-run park live on.
“We are working with Carol Albert to identify a temporary site … and hope we will be successful,” said Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city Economic Development Corporation.
Despite all the frenetic activity, all of Albert’s rides remain on the Ital Web site, with prices ranging from $25,000 to $500,000.
“Carol is waiting to see what options present themselves,” said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Community Board 13.