Friday, November 09, 2007

Coney Heads

The Coney Island planning process continues to amuse us-with the latest coming from Mike Clancy's post on the Runnin' Scared blog. In a further explication of the meaning of the city's announcement for the amusement area Clancy, who was first out of the box on the issue yesterday, opines that it could well mean the death knell for Thor Equities' Joe Sitt: "The upshot, two hours of Powerpoint later: Bloomberg is moving ahead with plans to revamp the amusement district, but Joe Sitt's condos-by-the-boardwalk plan is off the table—and the city plans on salting the earth to make sure things stay that way."

Perhaps, but perhaps not. As the blog points out all of this hinges on the parkland alienation process, taking currently designated parkland, de-designating it for other use; and taking land now owned by Sitt and making it parkland instead. This should not be seen as a slam dunk.

Here's the explanation of the president of the Coney Island Development Corporation, Lynn Kelly: "State legislation, explained Kelly, would be required next spring to "alienate" the parking-lot site; the city would then transmogrify the amusement district into new parkland via its ULURP land-use process." Are you beginning to see any problems here, especially considering the city's ham-handed approach to all things Albany?

And one last point. As Metro indicates, even the fans of the plan aren't totally sold on all of its features: "Dick Zigun, president of Coney Island USA, praised the city for stepping in and preserving the amusements, but he also said the plan needs some “fine tuning” regarding the type of retail the city hopes to attract and whether new buildings would be taller than the parachute jump. “Can we do what Paris does, where nothing goes higher than its national monument?” he asked."

Can we? Perhaps the better question is can we get five separate property owners to agree with the city so that the plan can go forward without the use of eminent domain, something that Doctoroff has pledged not to use. As AMNY tells us: "To make the plan work, however, three large swaths of land must be rezoned and much of the property must be acquired by the city -- including 10 acres now owned by a private developer, Thor Equities, which has its own revitalization plans for the neighborhood." This doesn't seem like a really good bet.