Ocean Drive: A look inside Coney Island’s first luxury apartment complex

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Ocean Drive, a 22-story luxury complex, opened its doors to residents mid-January.
Red Apple Group

Coney Island’s first luxury high-rise complex has officially opened its doors, offering hundreds of ocean-view apartments and state-of-the-art amenities. 

Ocean Drive — at W. 37th Street by the boardwalk — houses a 50-foot pool and a 25,000 square-foot sundeck in addition to its 425 apartments, which rent for between $1,900 and nearly $4,000.

The eccentric developer behind the project, billionaire John Catsimatidis, who amassed a fortune from his supermarket chain Gristedes Foods, claims he saw the sweeping ocean views of the People’s Playground and felt a magical connection to the area. 

“I went there on a Saturday and the sun was shining and I fell in love,” Catsimatidis told the Brooklyn Paper. “You breathe in that ocean air and I guarantee that you live 10 more years.”

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Ocean Drive offers studios and one, two, and three-bedroom apartments.Photo by Derrick Watterson

The apartments range from studios to three-bedrooms, and each boast a private balcony overlooking the southern Brooklyn coast — which is made possible by the buildings’ V-shape tilt that gives even street-side apartments ocean view access from their patios.

The complex’s third floor is the amenities mecca, where renters can find a kids’ playroom, a pool, and a state-of-the-art gym. Residents can also access a large hangout space with billiards and foosball, and can park their cars in a three-story parking garage underneath the building.

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Residents can dive into a 50-foot pool with a full-time lifeguard.Photo by Derrick Watterson

The sprawling development also features a 25,000 square-foot sundeck with a 100-inch TV for movie screenings, a bocce court, a putting green, and life-size chess and checkers. 

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The sundeck includes pathways, outdoor games, and greenery.Red Apple Group

But even for Coney Islanders who can’t pony up the high rent price, everyone can take advantage of nearly half a football field’s worth of retail space on towers’ ground floor — where a supermarket, restaurant, and a drug store are slated to open in the next few months, according to building rep Ralph Zirinsky.

And to ensure that residents’ needs are met, the developers plan to fund a free trolley to take shuttle riders along the one-mile trip between Ocean Drive and Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue subway station, as well as the upcoming NYC Ferry terminal three blocks away, Zirinsky said. 

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A free trolley will shuttle residents — and potentially the public — between Ocean Drive and the subway station.Red Apple Group

The endless luxury in the glassy high-rise stands in stark contrast to the surrounding buildings in western Coney Island’s working-class community — which include mostly one- and two-story homes and subsidized housing complexes. Coney Island’s average household income is $54,500 per year, according to city data — meaning that most local families would be paying more than half their income for Ocean Drive’s cheapest one-bedroom apartment. 

Many of the airy rooms look out on the more modest apartment buildings and public housing complexes that surround the luxury high-rise.Photo by Derrick Watterson

However, Catsimatidis is not worried about the possibility of Ocean Drive leading the wave of gentrification, saying that he believes “all neighborhoods should have both” wealthy and working-class residents. 

Critics of luxury development and the changes it brings should stay in their own lane, he said. 

“Let everybody live in their own way. Are they prejudiced against people who are successful and make money?” he said.

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The playroom offers comes with a range of toys.Photo by Derrick Watterson

In fact, Catsimatidis is himself planning to build more luxury buildings along the iconic boardwalk, including on the Ocean Drive’s adjacent lot — which Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group also owns.

“We can build three more buildings,” he said. “We’re ready to go, and if there’s cooperation with the city, we will.”

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A lounge with billiards and foosball will be open to all residents.Photo by Derrick Watterson