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The Shape of Things to Come In Coney Island...

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The Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) is expected to present a draft plan in the next few weeks, according to Borough President Marty Markowitz and city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officials. Other sources say the draft plan will be presented at two meetings, with the first being held near Stillwell Avenue the first week of May and the second on West 30th Street toward the end of May. The plan will call for more housing, a cultural community center, a further buildup of the entertainment end of Coney Island, more restaurants and a redesign of certain parts of Surf Avenue, sources say. “Two years ago the Mayor, the City Council and I established the Coney Island Development Corporation to fashion a strategic plan for the redevelopment of the area,” said Markowitz. “After engaging the community, elected officials and key stakeholders, the CIDC will present its draft plan in the next few weeks.” News of the CIDC draft plan being released comes after published reports last week that Manhattan-based Thor Equities purchased property along West 12th Street and the Boardwalk. This property includes property on West 12th Street where a go-kart track stands, and along the Boardwalk where “Dunk the Creep,” a souvenir shop and a gyro stand reside. Among the sellers of the property reportedly sold were Kings County GOP Chairman Hy Singer, who owns several Coney Island properties. Singer refused comment for this story. Also selling properties to Thor Equities was Deno’s Wonder Wheel owner Dennis Vourderis, who confirmed selling a property on West 12th Street and the Boardwalk. “It’s definitely going to be a good thing and going toward a positive direction, although people have mixed emotions about losing the flavor of Coney Island,” said Vourderis. “There’s room for a lot for improvement and I know it’s going to help the Wonder Wheel.” While representatives from Thor Equities did not return phone calls at press time, City Councilmember Domenic Recchia noted that Thor Equities owner Joe Sitt is from Brooklyn and wants to do the right thing. “He [Sitt] wants to work with everybody and not make enemies,” said Recchia. “He’s an outstanding guy in the community and wants to see Coney Island prosper back to its heyday.” Recchia hailed both the sale announcement and the upcoming release of a draft plan. “As a councilmember, I have to make sure everybody gets on board and works together,” said Recchia. “Also my main concern is that the community center gets built and to build housing so that I can help the people in Coney Island afford to buy their own condos.” CIDC Chair Josh Sirefman said Thor Equities have clearly been active at looking at properties and the CIDC wants to work with all the different stakeholders as a guide for the Coney Island revitalization, he said. “They’ve [Thor] been receptive to working with us,” Sirefman said. Sirefman said preliminarily speaking the CIDC wants to keep the area an entertainment destination and to stay true to the spirit of Coney Island. Sirefman praised Recchia, the City Council and Markowitz for keeping the CIDC a partnership. Sirefman said much of what the CIDC has talked about in public meetings orbits around similar themes such as getting year-around use of Surf Avenue, introducing housing in the right ways and appropriate places, and building on the core of what makes Coney Island an entertainment destination. Sirefman also deflected criticism by Dick Zigun, who runs Coney Island’s Sideshow by the Seashore, who has been critical of the CIDC for not having any amusement park owners on the board. “We have a number of people at these meetings, including amusement park, and have talked with Dick a number of times,” said Sirefman. “The CIDC is fully inclusive.” Markowitz added that whatever is developed must be consistent with the CIDC plan and be a unique and special project that attracts tourists from across the globe. “I am confident that Thor Equities will complement the CIDC plan and meet my objectives for a world-class project that is consistent with Coney Island’s character and rich history,” Markowitz said.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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