Coney Island

 The bulk of the work on Coney remains in the Group Discussion area of the Urban Design Committee.  To have a look “click here“.   See “Coney Island: Decadence Reborn.”

Previous Studies Summary

Coney Island has more “studies” than most, but these are the ones, I held onto and proved useful during the conduct of the Brooklyn Sports Study in the late 1980s.

 Coney Island Neighborhood Improvement Area
City Planning Commission (1974) 

Abraham Beam was Mayor and John Zuccotti was the Chair of the City  Planning Commission in 1974.  The implementation of several urban renewal designations from 1968 onward led to a call for help from the community informally called “the heart” after Hart Place just south of Coney Island Creek, north of Surf Avenue between Stillwell and Cropsy.  It was a three-generation Italian American neighborhood.  The scrutiny of any development minded person from the Urban Development Corporation, or private investor could not help but envisioned grander possibilities.  While significantly residential, the traditional live/work character the area brought forth an M1-2 zone designation that was converted to a mixed use zone in the 1970s. 

The main recommendation was a promise not to condemn property for renewal (known as the “Q” parcel reference).  The study also encouraged public incentive financing to assist owners to upgrade property and the recommendation for the addition of infill housing through selected acquisitions.

Coney Island Development Study (CIDS)
Hoberman & Wasserman P.C. (1975)

CIDS was contracted by the Housing and Development Administration when Roger Starr ran the place.  It is an extensive 170+ page study of existing and proposed development in Coney Island. While the report focuses on housing and the Amusement area was not specifically included within the scope of the study the authors reported the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce found an average paid attendance on summer weekends of one million persons and an annual payment in real estate taxes of nearly one million dollars.  Not bad for 1975.

The study reported discussions with the president and other representatives of the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce.  A key point was that the amusement area was owned by more than 66 separate persons or groups that made planning difficult.  What is the case today?  It seems a few owners remain with life-time family attachments to the park, but today most are owners are fully absentee interests holding property for speculation, in the belief that the park will be redeveloped.  Is this ownership group capable of implementing an effective preservation, rehabilitation and improvement program?  It is a given that zoning establishes the “basis” for design and development, but it offers little in ongoing development leadership.

Retail Market Analysis and Development Program
Robert Pauls, Real Estate & Planning Consultant (1981)

This study was prepared for the New York State Mortgage Loan Enforcement and Administration Agency to project uses for a “shell” of 23,000 sq. ft. on the south side of Mermaid Avenue between 30th and 31st.  This site was owned by the Sea Park West Co., a limited partnership holding title under the Mitchell-Lama law.  The study found, sufficient market potential for the development of a Supermarket and an ancillary project across Mermaid Avenue.

 I have no idea if or when this site was developed or its end-relationship to this study.

 The Coney Island Management Study and Plan
Iron Hill Associates with Mitchell/Giurgola Architects  (1987)

The routine use of “management studies” by the Department of Parks and Recreation under Henry Stern proved to be a significant service in laying out a base line of accountability.  In this report, just over ten years later, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce reported an estimated average week attendance at just over 300,000 during the summer season and no mention of real estate taxes paid.

In this study the amusement area was based on two premises.  The area must be viewed as a whole, not as a set of isolated attractions or facilities.  And second that the Parks Department in cooperation with other city agencies, had to undertake a set of interim projects to demonstrate visible improvements and the city’s commitment to Coney Island.   For example, the boardwalk remains viable, but you can no longer go “under the Boardwalk.” 

Additions are requested.

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