On Friday, NYC Economic Development Corporation sent out its request for proposals (RFP) for amusement operators on the shiny new land it just bought. Worked into the guidelines is a requirement that all applicants must have attractions in place for the Summer 2010 season on a lot that accounts for roughly half the city-owned land. This guarantees something to see next year, and hopefully it’s better than the dreaded Sitt Sideshow.
The second requirement in the guidelines is “An enhanced visitor experience in keeping with Coney Island’s tradition of public access.” We don’t know what that means, so we’ll leave it up to you.
According to the guidelines, NYCEDC will give extra points to proposals that have plans for: 1) phased development of the property 2) visitorship growth through marketing and programming 3) operational and promotional synergy with nearby attractions 4) plan to install “state-of-the-art” rides.
That last one may nix the idea that Astroland will be returning, as Coney Island USA owner Dick Zigun suggested to the Brooklyn Eagle. We could be wrong, but I wouldn’t qualify their old rides as state-of-the-art. (Except Breakdancer. That thing can transport you to the future and back again. But you’ll leave your stomach contents in the future.)
Meanwhile, activist group Save Coney Island issued its response to the city’s purchase. The verdict? “It is not enough.”
The City’s planned outdoor amusement area remains confined to a narrow 12-acre strip of land, squeezed in by a proposed multi-story entertainment mall, and blocked off by a wall of proposed high-rise hotels rising up to 27 stories. Until the outdoor amusement area is expanded and the hotels are removed, the City’s plan would permanently compromise Coney Island’s potential to once again become a world-class amusement destination. Unless the City purchases the rest of Thor Equities’ land, a large portion of the amusement area will remain subject to the whims of real estate speculation and the future of Coney Island will remain at risk.
Whatever happens to Thor’s property, work will begin immediately on what the city purchased. RFP forms are due back by December 18th, with a decision expected shortly after. And the city’s short-term plan for Coney Island includes rebuilding parts of the Boardwalk and constructing a brand-new Steeplechase Plaza.