Summer heat is on Coney Island rezoning proposal

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The city’s comprehensive development and rezoning plan for Coney Island has already gone through an arduous review, but the toughest battles have yet to be fought.

This week the City Planning Commission is expected to issue its recommendations sending the controversial rezoning plan to the City Council for a vote sometime this summer.

However, the key issue of demapping the KeySpan Park car lot currently mapped as parkland, and designating a strip of property located between the Parachute Jump and the Cyclone roller coaster along the boardwalk as new parkland, still remains a dubious proposition requiring approval from Albany.

So far, no one in the legislature has moved to take up the cause, and the councilmember from Coney Island remains adamant that objections from neighborhood property owners must still be addressed before the plan can proceed.

“They [city officials] have to have parkland to put back in order for them to move forward,” City Councilmember Domenic Recchia told this newspaper. “If we were to do rezoning and pass it in the City Council and they never get ownership [of the land], we’ve wasted our time.”

City officials maintain that state action on alienating the Keyspan Park car lot and designating new parkland can wait until the fall.

AssemblymemberAlec Brook-Krasny, who represents the 46th Assembly District, said that he doesn’t think the city’s rezoning and redevelopment plan for Coney Island “is a good idea at this moment” because it appears to be a “patch” on “the bigger picture.”

A big chunk of the land that the city needs inside the core of the Coney Island amusement district currently belongs to developer Joe Sitt and Thor Equities.

So far, the Bloomberg administration and the biggest landowner in Coney Island have been unable to agree on a purchase price for the land.

While previously putting his sale price at “somewhere north of $130 million,” developer Joe Sitt now says that he doesn’t really want to sell at all.

Sitt has already told Coney Island residents that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to build the glitzy Las Vegas-style theme park that he has touted if he did not win zoning favorable to his plan.

A source close to the retail developer expressed frustration with Sitt and urged him to “s—t or get off the pot.”

City officials, meanwhile, maintain that without alienation of the KeySpan parking lot, Coney Island stands to lose over 1,000 units of housing and parking spaces and hundreds of permanent jobs, as well as almost 200,000 or more square feet of retail and residential services.

Recchia contends that the city has had ample opportunity to assemble its plan.

“They don’t have the property to put back,” he said. “They could have been doing this for a long time.”

The Bloomberg administration also faces renewed opposition from Dick Zigun and other Coney Island ride advocates who denounce Sitt, but believe the amusement district has been rendered far too small to become a world-class attraction.

Recchia says it is not his philosophy to pick and choose who should and shouldn’t build in Coney Island.

“Anyone that has the funding in place that can get something done, that’s who we should work with,” he said.

— Additional reporting by Steve Witt

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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