Dream on: Two-thirds of billionaire builder’s Coney towers topped out

Dream on: Two-thirds of billionaire builder’s Coney towers topped out
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Call it a dream come true.

Billionaire developer John Catsimatidis celebrated laying the last beam on the highest point of two of the three towers of his forthcoming “Ocean Dreams” residential development in Coney Island with a Sept. 20 “topping out” party at the Surf Avenue property. The grocery-magnate-turned-developer said the oceanfront development — which has been more than a decade in the making — would offer higher-scale housing than what the neighborhood currently enjoys.

“Coney has a lot of affordable housing — I think this rounds out the neighborhood so you have a nice integrated neighborhood, between middle class and affordable housing,” Catsimatidis told this paper.

Construction workers have begun to overlay with glass the two 21-story towers currently under construction — between W. 35th and W. 36th streets — and Catsimatidis said he expects they’ll be completed by next summer. The third, as-yet-undeveloped property on an adjacent parcel of land, between W. 36th and W. 37th streets, is still in the early phases of development.

The two towers under construction 20 blocks from the amusement district will soar over both the Riegelmann Boardwalk and the gated community of Sea Gate, with 425 apartments between them, according to a rep at Catsimatidis’s company, Red Apple Group. The towers will each feature nearly six football fields worth of residential space and nearly half a football field worth of retail space. Catsimatidis previously told this paper he would put in one of his own supermarkets — Gristedes, Red Apple, or D’Agostino — along with restaurants and pharmacies in the ground-floor retail spaces.

The pair of buildings currently in development will also be topped with a rooftop pool and terrace featuring a kid’s playground, bocce court, putting green, outdoor movie theater, and a barbecue area. And the interiors will feature other perks, including a lounge, party room, gym, and kid’s playroom, along with a parking garage with more than 300 spaces.

And Catsimatidis added that while he currently envisions the buildings to be rental properties, they would consider making part of them condos — especially because he said many Sea Gate residents have told him they’d be interested in abandoning their gated community of detached homes for the convenience of living in one of his apartments.

“A lot of the people that live in Sea Gate have spoken to me saying they’d rather live in an apartment — it’s less stress,” he said.

And residents of Ocean Dreams can rest assured that their new home will be fully protected from another Hurricane Sandy: the two glass towers can sustain winds up to 170 miles per hour, and they’re built on an elevated glass platform so that “water doesn’t affect anything,” Catsimatidis said.

The developer snatched up the adjacent lot — between W. 36th and W. 37th streets — in 2008, and said he would love to build “at least three more” towers on it. But he said that city bureaucracy has prevented him from even breaking ground on the lot, adding that he was ready to take his money elsewhere if the city won’t let him construct the building of his dreams.

“If the city wants us to do it, we’d love to do it. We’ll write a check and we’ll do it,” Catsimatidis said. “If we don’t want to spend the money in New York we’ll spend it in Florida. But I love this city, I love Coney Island, so we’d rather do it in this city.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcsh[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Dream team: Billionaire developer John Catsimatidis, at left, hosted a “topping out” celebration on Sept. 20 with his daughter, Andrea, and son, John, Jr., marking the progress on two of the Coney Island towers that are part of his “Ocean Dreams” development.
Photo by Steve Solomonson