Bloomy’s Coney baloney

The Brooklyn Paper
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Mayor Bloomberg wasted $11 million in taxpayer money this week to buy a single acre of land in Coney Island.

Bloomberg and his economic development minions hailed this purchase as the first step towards revitalizing the entire amusement area of Coney Island, but the real-estate deal is actually the first step in a process that will likely lead to a further weakening of Coney’s amusement zone. Here’s how:

Coney Island’s amusement area is currently zoned so that only amusements — rides, games of chance, Shoot the Freak booths and landmarks like the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel — can operate there. That zoning, officially called C-7, prevents such controversial uses as hotels, condos, community facilities and other non-amusement activities in an area roughly between Keyspan Park at West 22nd Street and the New York Aquarium at West 10th Street.

Yet the Bloomberg Administration wants to rezone the area as “park land” and then lease the land to amusement companies or a single theme-park operator to create a revitalized Coney Island with exciting new rides and outdoor and year-round indoor attractions.

That’s a vision that we certainly share — though we have long argued that the best way to realize that vision is to allow private developers, who are subject to market forces and public review processes, to build it.

One such developer, Joe Sitt, owns five acres of the nine acres that the city wants to rezone as “park land.” The Bloomberg Administration has made it clear that it does not want to give Sitt the chance to build a multi-billion-dollar Xanadu, even though he owns the land and his development would have to conform to the existing amusement zoning.


And therein lies the problem.

Under questioning from The Brooklyn Paper, city officials admitted this week that if the area is rezoned as “park land,” virtually anything can be built there. The city zoning resolution does not require “park land” to be set aside as green space, to be devoid of commercial activity or, indeed, to be off-limits to housing development.

Actually, all it does is put such “park land” under the sole control of the mayor’s office. No rezoning hearings or public review process will kick in if the city later wants to build a hotel or a conference center or housing or a shopping mall in the so-called “People’s Playground.”

But such hearings and public review would be required if the land remained zoned C-7 — and that is likely the reason that the city is so intent on rezoning Coney Island as “park land.”


Clearly, this week’s one-acre land purchase and the scheme to rezone the area as “park” isn’t about “saving” Coney Island — it’s about putting nine acres of prime Boardwalk-front land under mayoral control, wresting it away from a private developer whom this mayor simply does not like.

The fact that the city’s vision for an exciting Coney Island is so similar to Sitt’s makes the $11-million land purchase so much more galling. The city did not need to buy that piece of land to “protect” the amusement zone; indeed, the site is currently home to the already-successful Deno’s Wonder Wheel park and, more important, could only be an amusement park, given the current zoning.

But once the area is rezoned as “park land,” all bets are off.

Updated 5:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sharon from Formerly The Bronx says:
I have been following the destruction of Coney Island from Afar! I don't agree with Sitt/Thor and his flipping properties throughout the city they will do the same with Coney! I hope Bloomberg leave it C-7 and bring back to life the People's Playground. Around the world Coney Island is a name people associate with amusements not condo's retail entertainment! Please Mayor Bloomberg preserve this Historic Area! Keep Coney Island the way it should be remembered! Amusements for the whole family at price they can afford!
Oct. 17, 2008, 10:03 am
Arthur from Coney Island says:
Check the website to see a group working for the preservation of Coney Island's heritage as an amusement center for everyone and for the welfare of its citizens.
Oct. 17, 2008, 10:25 am
Joe from Brooklyn says:
Yes, unfortunately the city bought the land we were trying to grab. But we here at Whor Equities look forward to petitioning to get the landmark status of the Wonder Wheel, Cyclone, and Parachute Jump revoked, so that we can bulldoze them and build malls and Nike stores.
Oct. 17, 2008, 2:24 pm
Samuel Pelderguise from South Gravesend says:
Joe Sitt does not have the acreage he needs to build his proposed resort. What the author of this article fails to understand is that one of the requirements for Sitt to build his resort is for him to own the entire area between the new baseball stadium and the front door of the aquarium with some assurances that the Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone roller coaster, and Nathan's original hot dog stand will be the only original structures from Coney Island's past that will be part of the new resort.

For Sitt to have built what he wanted to he would have also had to buy the remaining 20 acres. He does not have the money to do so or he would have come up with the 11 million he was suppose to pay Jack Ward to buy Wonder Wheel park. The city was only able to buy it because Joe Sitt defaulted on payments. The only other way Joe Sitt could have gotten the remaining 20 acres is through eminent domain. We all believe that was what he was counting on all along.

The man does not have the money to build what he promised. He has a history of failed projects where he ends up selling the property to other developers, and has already failed once at Coney Island when he owned property on the west side of the baseball stadium and ended up selling the property to a condo developer.

Oct. 17, 2008, 2:54 pm
tilyous from Coney Island says:
Yeah, yeah!!!

And where's the name of the Ahole that wrote this crap article? You must be another one of Joe S@itts paid phoney balony flunkies!!

Wore Equities is as serious about rebuilding Coney as is Bozo the clown. The only thing they managed to build are fences, without the proper permits!!
Oct. 17, 2008, 5:11 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
that article is so full of misinformation, no wonder there is no byline who wrote it.

Coney Island can only suceed under private developers like Joe Sitt, well mr brooklyn paper, joe sitt never built anything, did he?

and here is something else, when he talks about Mr Bull Sitt
.......even though he owns the land and his development would have to conform to the existing amusement zoning.

Existing amusement zoning? he doesnt want to build amusements, he says they dont make money. he says the cities plans are not economic viable, meaning, there isnt enough plain retail and condo owners in the cities plans.

and then they have the gall to say this:

The fact that the city’s vision for an exciting Coney Island is so similar to Sitt’s

what planet is the writer from? how are amusement rides similar to a strip mall?

do i need to go on??

Oct. 17, 2008, 5:50 pm
Vinny from Staten Island says:
Hello all.

Can anyone explain the reason the city is seeking a zoning change for the amusement area in Coney Island?

If the city wants to build an amusement park, and the zoning in the area allows that (and only that), why does Bloomberg insist on changing the zoning?

The best way the city can control what is built on ant land within its confines is through zoning. The system, which has worked for years, allows certain types of construction in specific areas. If someone (in this case, Thor Equities) wants to change the zoning, that person has to request the change FROM THE CITY.

The city then determines if the change should be made. If the recommendation is for changing the zoning, a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (or Process, I'm not 100 percent sure) goes into effect.

At that point, many checks and balances go into effect: Community Board Approval (advisory, but gives residents a chance to speak out); city Counsel approval, mayoral approval, Environmental Impact Statements, etc.

While all of these things take time, they are there for a reason: so the people can have their say.

This editorial points out that if the city changes the zoning to Park land, only one person has a say: the mayor. And what he or she says, goes. There will be no public input whatsoever.

Fact is, Sitt, owns much of the land on which he, as of now, can only build amusements. The only way something else can be built is if the zoning is changed. Any attempt to change the zoning would require massive public review.

So why, as this editorial points out, does the city itself want to change the zoning?
Oct. 17, 2008, 11:46 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
the protection parkland provides is this. Parkland adds another layer of protection to land. If parkland is removed, it must be replaced with the same amount of parkland. See Yankee stadium to understand the process. The keyspan parking lot is park land, which cant be built on, they want to alienate (remove) the parkland designation, so residential can be built on it. The above article is so slanted to be pro thor, Sitt must be paying someone to spread the misinformation. Think of it like this, the land can stay zoned for amusements, making it parkland adds another layer of red tape to change the zoning.

What should be asked, Sitt is breaking current zoning, so why doesnt the city do something about it? School Bus parking is not C7 zoning.
Oct. 20, 2008, 12:54 am
Vinny from Staten Island says:
So I guess, using Keyspan Park as an example, by converting the Amusement Zone to park land, the city can build a parking lot on it.

When they built the parking lot next to Keyspan, was the "park" land given back?

The lot where the buses are parked is zoned C7, and, yes, the City should do something about that illegal use.
Oct. 20, 2008, 11:33 am
bob from brooklyn heights says:
way i see it, if the city gets control, the city does whatever it wants. and nobody can stop it.

better to have a private developer whose actions can be checked by the city, than a city that operates unchecked.

with the city, there are never any guarantees.
Oct. 20, 2008, 1:28 pm
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) says:
Great debate, people. Thanks for the comments.

One thing, though: Editorials never have a byline as they are the creation of The Brooklyn Paper's editorial board.

No newspaper puts bylines on editorials, except in very few exceptions.

Thanks for reading.

Oct. 21, 2008, 4:57 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
funny.. the real newspapers I read, their editorials have bylines. Want to take on the real papers? Trash Sitt, Coney was better before Sitt then presently. Sitt never built anything, but you think he can rebuild the amusement park zone. Report the facts, he will never spend a dime on building anything permanent that will entertain anyone, unless you are talking a swingset for his condo owners. You dont rip him for that laughable thing called Summer of Hope.

A real newspaper reporter will go to jail for the freedoms in the bill of rights. Report how Sitt silenced people in Coney Island. Then talk to us about a real newspaper with real reporters. Not just a website who is told what to say by a land speculator.
Oct. 21, 2008, 11:36 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
Keyspan and its parkling lot was the old Steeplechase park land. When acquired from Fred Trump, all the land was made parkland.

When Kruger got up at the second Coney Island meeting, the one after the first meeting he shut down, he cried how the city is destroying parkland. What parkland? its a blacktop parking lot.
Oct. 21, 2008, 11:40 pm
Sena from Brooklyn says:
What did Kruger do? He SHUT DOWN a meeting?
Can anyone explain me that? And- when was that?
Oct. 27, 2008, 2:13 pm

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