After years of blight, the future of New York’s Coney Island historic amusement park brightened when city officials said they had a deal to spend about $96 million to buy seven acres to expand the park.
New York City officials, who requested anonymity, said they will purchase three waterfront properties in South Brooklyn from developer Thor Equities LLC. That will add to the outdoor amusement park’s current three acres.
In July, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to transform the seaside neighborhood with new shops and almost 5, 000 new homes, creating 6, 000 permanent jobs and boosting the impoverished area’s economy by $14 billion over three decades.
A spokesman for Thor Equities declined comment.
Coney Island, where the hot dog and roller coaster were invented, has already been through various transformations since seaside luxury hotels opened there after the Civil War.
Critics said the mayor’s new plan risked "homogenizing" the area’s traditionally raffish character and blocking ocean views with 20- to 30-storey hotels.
Opponents of his plan, including residents, carnival workers, economists and preservationists, also said Coney Island residents would be driven out or left with only menial service jobs.
City officials, who plan to announce the deal on Thursday, said their concept "will preserve and grow the historic amusement area (and) create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood with new retail options."
A total of 900 of the new apartments will be set aside for lower-income individuals.
Dick Zigun, the self-styled mayor of Coney Island who heads the arts group Coney Island USA, on Wednesday said he had feared that the city’s budget crunch may cause Bloomberg to scuttle the land purchase.
The amusement park once totaled nearly 30 acres.
"At last, we will have one core amusement park, big enough to afford advertising and air shows, " said Zigun.
Thor Equities had proposed grafting Las Vegas-style entertainment onto Coney Island. The developer’s deal with the city allows it keep several acres where it can build new shops or hotels.