Karrie Jacobs


November 8, 2007

Six Flags Over Coney?

What this bird’s-eye view of Coney Island shows is new housing, hotels and retail development north of Surf Avenue and west of Keyspan Park, with about 15 acres of heightened razzle dazzle in the area currently occupied by the area’s amusements. Here’s how Mayor Bloomberg described next-generation Coney Island in the speech he gave this afternoon:

Lifting these outdated zoning restrictions on Coney East would unleash the possibility of really exciting changes at Coney Island. It would permit development of such fabulous attractions as: A high-speed roller coaster that would wind through the district. It and other new rides would be thrilling new icons for the new Coney Island. There could be a year-round water park and hotel with slides, rides, and awesome year-round aquatic attractions, or an open-air performance area for live music and theater, flowing onto the Boardwalk and Coney Island’s magnificent beach. There could be a modern outdoor ice-skating rink, popular cold-weather attraction that people in the area have wanted for many years, as well as a wide variety of restaurants and shops to fit every budget and satisfy every taste. This revitalized amusement district will be the home of the cherished and restored B&B Carousel, which two years ago we saved from being sold, dismantled, and shipped out of town. And it will provide an exciting new setting for beloved Coney Island landmarks like the Cyclone and the Parachute Jump.

Is this a triumph of the weenies? Well, maybe. It appears that the city is more devoted to the idea of maintaining a significant portion of Coney Island as an amusement area, free from luxury condos, than was developer Joe Sitt. (Oddly, both the city and Sitt seem to want a roller coaster ride long enough to be the Far West Side extension of the Number 7 train.) However, it’s hard to know at this juncture whether Coney Island will remain a New York City neighborhood zoned for amusement, one characterized by an unpredictable mix of enterprises, big and small, or whether it will be developed into a standard-issue corporate theme park.

Can the city make provisions for the heterogeneous, the eclectic and the weird in Coney Island’s new zoning? See: The End of the Line