The ongoing Coney Island redevelopment soap opera has taken a major turn today: The New York City Economic Development Corporation has announced it's signed a property acquisition agreement with Ward Realty Corp. to buy an acre of Wonder Wheel Park in the amusement core in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A city source confirmed to us that It's the same property that Thor Equities was "in contract" to buy last year for $11 million, the same price the city paid. The release says:
The deal is the first of what NYCEDC expects to be a series of land acquisitions in the coming months as the City proceeds with its vision to create a 21st century entertainment destination and protect Coney Island’s amusement legacy in perpetuity. The current tenant, Wonder Wheel Park maintains a lease to operate on the property for a term of 12 years, through 2020.
Here's the rest:
The Ward Realty Corp. site is located within the nine-acre area the City has designated to be mapped as parkland. Under the City’s comprehensive rezoning plan for the area, the parkland will establish a base for developing new year-round indoor and outdoor amusement uses, while still maintaining Coney Island’s unique character. The acquisition the Ward site will bring the total amount of city-owned property within the footprint to about four acres.
“The acquisition of the Ward property provides further evidence of the City’s commitment to preserve Coney Island’s unique heritage and protect the amusements in perpetuity,” said Seth W. Pinsky, President, NYCEDC. “This important deal brings us one step closer to our twin goals of maintaining what is best about Coney Island, while simultaneously building a vibrant, modern mixed-use community.”
In pursuit of its long-term goal, NYCEDC continues to engage in active negotiations with the remaining landowners to consolidate the rest of the nine acre site. Upon completion of the public approval process, there will be a total of 12 acres of parkland to be devoted to amusement uses in Coney Island, including the city-owned Cyclone roller coaster and Steeplechase Park, which are already mapped as parkland.
The City intends to re-develop the neighborhood surrounding the amusements by bringing much needed infrastructure improvements, creating affordable housing and fostering economic activity that will create jobs and opportunities for local residents. The project will provide over 20,000 construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs.
“William J. Ward’s vision for Coney Island was an inspiration to all who have passed through this beloved area,” said Lynn Kelly, President, Coney Island Development Corporation. “This agreement is much more than the purchase of property, but an opportunity to expand on his legacy and preserve Coney Island as an amusement destination for generations to come.”
“Since the 1870’s, William J. Ward, the original owner of this amusement park and rides, had great hopes for Coney Island. Now, because of the vision of Mayor Bloomberg and NYCEDC, those hopes will flourish forever,” said Christopher F. (Ward) McGratty, Chairman & CEO, Ward Realty Corp. “We are confident that with the consummation of this contract, a true legacy of entertainment and happiness in Coney Island will remain in perpetuity for all to enjoy. Not just for the New Yorkers from the five boroughs, but most especially for Brooklynites around the world!”
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, the Ward family, the oldest, continuous landowner in Coney Island, has agreed to have NYCEDC acquire roughly one acre of land for $11 million.