Coney Island Concepts Debated

The Municipal Art Society wants Coney Island to be bigger and more attractive, but the developer says time-share hotels and big boxes are the key the landmark's financial sustainability.
February 19, 2009, 12pm PST | Judy Chang
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"The issues are only further complicated by the recession, sharply declining retail sales and the inability to get financing for any project, regardless of who the developer is. Many residents of Coney Island are more concerned with affordable housing, jobs and attracting grocery stores to the area than the nuances of rebuilding the amusement district, although no one wants it to close down. The beaches, a minor league ballpark and what's left of the amusements still attract millions of summer visitors.

'We hope that there'll be some sort of marriage of convenience so we don't lose any summers, especially now with a depression, when more people may choose to come to Coney Island,' said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager for Community Board 13.

The city is pressing forward, expecting that Mr. Sitt will ultimately yield or sell his land. 'The city's plan will set the stage for the restoration of Coney Island's world-renowned vibrancy,' said Robert C. Lieber, deputy mayor for economic development. The art society 'has some compelling concepts that we are open to, but it's also important to make sure that the final plan is economically feasible and is integrated with the Coney Island community.'"

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Published on Monday, February 16, 2009 in The New York Times
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