A reclusive fast-food mogul who once dreamed of saving Coney Island with his own massive amusement park is close to selling his long-dormant land to the current self-styled savior of the “People’s Playground” and, in doing so, make it harder — and more expensive — for the city to realize its own vision for revitalizing the area.
Joe Sitt, owner of Thor Equities, is negotiating to buy the three-acre site of the former Thunderbolt roller coaster from Horace Bullard, the Kansas Fried Chicken mogul whose own theme park scheme for Steeplechase Park was blocked by then-Mayor Giuliani in 1994.
Bullard, who’s owned the land bounded by the Boardwalk, Surf Avenue, Keyspan Park and West 15th Street since 1985, said Sitt’s recent offer of $91 million was far more than the Bloomberg Administration’s bid.
“I don’t want to even mention the [city’s] number,” Bullard told The Brooklyn Paper. “It was not a realistic number.”
Bullard said that after years of allowing the land to sit idle, he’s jettisoning it because “I’ve been looking around at the economy” and “it’s time for me to get on with my life.”
Thor’s interest in adding to its 10–1/2-acre empire was first reported on Monday in the New York Post, and a spokesman for the company told The Brooklyn Paper that the two sides have been hammering out a deal.
Sitt’s ability to succeed as an amusement impresario in Coney Island has been under question since he started his $100-million land-buying spree five years ago.
Last summer — the so-called “Summer of Hope” — fizzled out when the temporary rides and games that Sitt brought in ended up packing up early.
This fall, Astroland closed after Sitt did not offer the space-age park’s operator a lease extension. Just before Christmas, word leaked that Sitt is doubling and tripling the rent for many Boardwalk businesses.