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This week’s $95.6 million deal to buy almost seven acres of Coney Island real estate from Thor Equities has brought the city’s goal of constructing a new, year-round amusement park one step closer to reality - now all they have to do is find someone to operate an interim park next summer.
The city is expected to issue an RFP, or Request For Proposals, this week.
Coney Island amusements have devolved into a collection of inflatable bouncy houses and cut-rate freak shows ever since Thor Equities and its principal Joe Sitt started clearing its newly acquired land a few years ago.
Last year, the venerable Astroland Amusement Park was forced to pack it in after more than 46 years in operation.
But the stage could now be set for Astroland’s re-entry into Coney Island.
Depending on what the city’s RFP looks like, Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert told this newspaper that she would “love” to bring back Astroland to Coney Island.
Most of the park’s rides like The Break Dancer and The Pirate Ship have been sitting in storagesince Astroland’s lease expired.
“I love the business and Astroland has a great name,” Albert said. “I’d love to be able to do it.”
The responsibility to keep Coney Island active and a viable while larger development plans are set in motion, now rests squarely with the Bloomberg administration.
News that a deal between the city has been reached comes less than a week after Mayor Mike Bloomberg narrowly beat Democratic challenger Bill Thompson for a third term.
“We’ve got to get something in there next summer,” one city official said. “It’s going to be a race.”
With this week’s deal, Thor Equities no longer holds claim to any part of the 3.1 acre site the Albert family sold to the developer back in 2006.
Sitt’s group still retains ownership of four acres of Coney Island property. According to the EDC, however, the holdings lie outside an area the city wants to designate as parkland.
The city now owns more than 92 percent of Coney Island land slated to be transformed into a new 27-acre amusement and entertainment district.
Major obstacles involving parkland designation remain in Albany, and many ride advocates still maintain that the 12-acres of land along the boardwalk intended for outdoor rides is simply not enough to attract visitors from all over the world.
Despite all that, city officials expressed relief that a deal with Sitt has finally been reached.
“There was nothing but uncertainty there, nobody wanted to invest,” an EDC official said. “Now there is certainty - there’s going to be an amusement park.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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