Modified Coney Island Master Plan Moves to Council

Image of the Coney Island Comprehensive Rezoning Plan used with permission of the New York City Department of City Planning. All rights reserved.

Modifications include increasing ground floor amusement requirements and easing bulk restrictions. On June 17, 2009, the City Planning Commission approved the seven linked applications comprising the City’s extensive redevelopment plan for Coney Island. The approval included demapping of streets and parkland, creation of new streets and parkland, and a 19-block rezoning, running from West 8th to West 20th Streets between Mermaid Avenue and the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

The product of over 300 public meetings dating back to 2005, the City’s plan aims to foster Coney Island’s redevelopment while insuring permanency for the amusement uses. Under the plan, the City would acquire the ride and arcade area surrounding the Wonder Wheel, map it permanently as City parkland, and connect it to the two currently mapped, protected attractions: the Cyclone and the Parachute Jump. This action would create a contiguous, permanent park along the boardwalk extending from the Parachute Jump to the New York Aquarium.

Most of the 19 blocks in the rezoning have a C7 zoning, which permits large-scale open amusement parks, but prohibits complementary uses like restaurants without entertainment. The rezoning plan would create a new Special Coney Island District, establishing regulations that would supplement and supersede the newly proposed zoning. Amusement uses would be concentrated in the Coney East subdistrict, roughly extending east of KeySpan Park from Surf Avenue to the boardwalk. Coney East would remain a C7 district, but special provisions within the Special Coney Island District would broaden permitted uses, including restaurants, bars, skate parks, and hotels, and require complementary amusement uses along the street level of new developments. Three other subdistricts would permit residential, other entertainment, and retail uses, facilitating 4,500 units of new housing, 900 of which would be affordable.

At the Commission’s May 6 public hearing, opponents expressed concerns over a variety of issues, including the plan’s affordable housing component, the demapping of parkland adjacent to KeySpan Park, and mapping of new parkland in the Coney East subdistrict. Thor Equities, the largest property owner within the proposed Coney East subdistrict, also opposed, testifying that the mapping of new parkland and new streets would bisect its holdings, making viable redevelopment unrealistic. 6 CityLand 73 (June 15, 2009).

The Commission made several modifications, but did not change the affordable housing component, or alter plans for the new parkland. The Commission believed that a new park would anchor the new district, and be “a catalyst for redevelopment” across the entire area.

Among the modifications, the Commission eliminated a 23-foot height restriction for portions of buildings on the side streets between the Coney North and Mermaid Avenue subdistricts, allowing developers to build up to 65 feet. It also modified the plan to require developers along West 10th Street and Surf and Stillwell Avenues, in the Coney East subdistrict, to dedicate 15 percent of groundfloor frontages to amusements. This builds on the plan’s previous requirement that developers on Bowery and the proposed Wonder Wheel Way dedicate at least 50 percent of the frontages to amusements.

The Commission commended the City for its community outreach efforts, and urged it to continue these collaborative efforts into the future. Chair Amanda Burden stated that she believed the Commission’s modifications enhanced the plan’s long-range strategy to preserve and grow Coney Island.

The City Council has until August 7, 2009 to vote on the plan.

Review Process
Lead Agency: Office,Deputy Mayor for Eco.
Dev., FEIS
Comm.Bd.: BK 13,App’d, 32-1-3
Boro.Pres: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-1
Council: Pending

CPC: Coney Island Plan (June 17, 2009).

CITYLAND Comment: On July 1, 2009, the City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee held its public hearing on the Coney Island plan. After the hearing, the Subcommittee laid over the vote to allow further discussions between the Council and the City.


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