Twelve acres of outdoor amusements in Coney Island is enough room to provide the masses with an “air in the face” experience packed with “speed, thrills and adrenaline.”
“Yes, it is enough land to do this right,” Jack Rouse of Jack Rouse Associates said last week.
The city’s Amusement Advisory Panel made up of industry insiders like Rouse convened at City Hall to discuss their findings last week and to urge the Bloomberg administration to waste no time in tapping a single operatorâdeveloper to help reâimagine Coney Island.
While decrying the continued “Balkanization” of the amusement area, Rouse â head of the design team that remade Ocean Park in Hong Kong â insisted that Coney Island “cannot become a theme park.”
“We do not believe this is a gated attraction,” he said.
According to the experts, any single operatorâdeveloper that the city chooses to partner with would then be able to work with any number of subâcontractors to help redevelop Coney Island.
“We recommend the city own the land with private partners,” Rouse said.
There are presently 10 to 12 entities capable of getting the job done in Coney Island, according to Rouse, who added that the city might choose to partner with a consortium made up of those major players.
City Councilmember Domenic Recchia, however, expressed his doubts about the city’s ability to attract anyone to build a major new rollerâcoaster in Coney Island since anyone who tried wouldn’t actually own the land they were building on.
But Kieran Burke, former chairman and CEO of Six Flags, Inc., said that a 25â to 50 âyear lease hold on properties inside the amusement district would be enough to satisfy any reticence on the part of potential builders.
According to Rouse, the outdoor portion of Coney Island’s proposed 27âacre amusement district could probably accommodate a handful of bigâtime rides and up to 20 to 30 other “pieces of equipment.”
Planners envision an assortment of soâcalled “dark rides” and other indoor amusements for the other 15 acres.
“It’s not the one thing,” Rouse stressed. “It’s the collective. We have to stop focusing on the silver bullet.”
Whatever the final configuration of the district, Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, stressed the importance of maintaining Coney Island’s affordability.