Modified Coney Island Plan Approved

Council increases affordable housing component and removes Wonder Wheel from new parkland. The City Council approved the City’s controversial rezoning and revitalization plan for Coney Island at its July 29, 2009 meeting. In addition to rezoning 19 blocks running from West 8th to West 20th Streets between Mermaid Avenue and the Riegelmann Boardwalk, the City will also create a 27-acre amusement and entertainment district. The City will map new streets, including Wonder Wheel Way east of KeySpan Park, and create new parkland. The plan will also facilitate the construction of 4,500 residential units and 500,000 sq.ft. of retail and neighborhood services. 6 CityLand 89 (July 15, 2009).

At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing on July 1, City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky presented details of the plan. Pinsky said that the City did not intend to use condemnation to acquire property for redevelopment, but that he was not in a position to say the City was “taking it off the table.”

The Subcommittee heard extensive testimony from residents, business owners, and civic groups. The co-owner of Deno’s Wonder Wheel testified that he wanted to support the plan, but claimed that designating the Wonder Wheel as parkland and creating Wonder Wheel Way, which would run through his property, would damage his business and hurt Coney Island.

After subsequent negotiations, the City agreed to modifications. Among the changes, the City will exclude the Wonder Wheel from its parkland mapping action and eliminate vehicular traffic from Wonder Wheel Way, designating it as a pedestrian walkway. The City also increased the plan’s affordable housing component from 20 to 35 percent of total units.

When the Subcommittee reconvened on July 21, Council Member Domenic M. Recchia announced that he supported the modified proposal and urged his colleagues to approve the plan. Before voting, Chair Tony Avella unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to the plan that would have eliminated high-rise buildings on the south side of Surf Avenue, limited building heights to 25 feet south of Surf Avenue, and extended the amusement area further east.

The Subcommittee and Land Use Committee approved the modified plan, referring it back to the City Planning Commission for review. The full Council then approved the plan, with only Council Members Charles Barron and Avella opposing, and Rosie Mendez abstaining.

Council: Coney Island Plan (July 29, 2009).

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