News broke yesterday that the city has successfully negotiated the purchase of almost seven acres in the heart of the Coney Island amusement district from developer Joe Sitt. The deal opens the doors for Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to revive the ‘hood into a year-round destination with high-rise hotels, restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters and the city’s first new roller coaster since the Cyclone was built in 1927.
The city inked the deal after years of wrangling with the Darth Vader of Coney Island real estate, Joe Sitt, who planned a $1.5 billion Las Vegas-style resort with a huge glass-enclosed water park, retail stores and condominiums or time-share hotels in tall towers near the beach. The city purchased 6.9 acres from Sitt for $95.6 million of public funds, leaving the developer with 5.6 acres.
Officials will begin seeking a temporary amusement operator in the coming days, and are sending representatives to International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions in Las Vegas next week. They’ll start soliciting proposals for a permanent, year-round amusement plan after that.
With a Coney Island renaissance on the horizon, bordering neighborhoods like Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay could stand to benefit. The three communities, along with Manhattan Beach, once thrived as the center of high-life in New York City. Together they flourished with resorts and restaurants, and together they crumbled as their heyday faded. Could a revived Coney Island usher in a new era for Sheepshead Bay?