City Reaches Deal to Buy 7 Acres of Coney Island

The deal is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to re-make Coney Island

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    After nearly two years of wrangling, the City has agreed to pay megadeveloper Thor Equities $95.7 million for seven prime acres of Coney Island, a published report said today.

    The deal is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to re-make Coney Island with 4,500 new apartments, condos and stores as well as a revitalized amusement park and boardwalk.

    Details are due to be announced Thursday, The New York Times reported.

    Thor Equities, owned by developer Joe Sitt, bought 10 acres of Coney Island property over the last five years, promising his own version of a flashy new neighborhood, complete with malls, hotels and state of the art amusement rides.

    From the beginning, residents, historians and skeptics decried Sitt's plan to re-work Coney Island, fearing the big development would damage the kitschy -- if rundown -- authenticity that makes Coney Island special.

    Coney Island's unofficial mayor, Dick Zigun, said in July that at first he was pleased by Bloomberg's masterplan but felt that the neighborhood was give the "ol switcheroo...." that will end with overdevelopment and what Zigun calls "a wall of highrises."

    Few would argue that Coney Island was in need of a some kind of makeover.  Over the past few decades, the seaside neighborhood has been beset by crime, drugs and dilapidation.

    The City's deal with Sitt capped a long standoff between the two sides, with each claiming they had the best plan for the area.

    Over the summer, the city rezoned a 19-block area of Coney Island, including a 27-acre amusement and entertainment district and, to the north and west of the district, almost 5,000 apartments and 500,000 square feet of retail.

    Bloomberg said his plan would "return Coney Island to its former glory, ensure its future as a year-round destination for visitors and create a more livable, vibrant community for its residents."

    City officials did say that in the next few days they would begin soliciting offers for an interim amusement operator before seeking potential developers to create a year-round destination that would ideally include a diverse mix of thrill rides, games and attractions between the Cyclone and the KeySpan ballpark, the Times said.