New York City Hopes to Return Coney Island to Past Glory

In the ongoing efforts to revitalize Coney Island, New York City has purchased almost seven acres of the Brooklyn waterfront after years of tough talks with a developer.

City officials said the price for the 6.9 acres is $95.6 million—going to Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities firm.

According to Newsday, the deal comes after an often secretive, start-and-stop tussle between Sitt and New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, that left the Coney Island plan up in the air even after the City Council approved it in July.

Bloomberg wants to turn the crumbling neighborhood by the boardwalk into a shining, year-round destination with high-rise hotels, restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters and the city’s first new roller coaster since the was built in 1927.

The city had originally wanted to buy about 11 acres of Sitt’s Coney Island property. He was asking for well over $100 million for the land, which he’s getting—but for only about seven acres.

The rest will remain the 45-year-old developer’s “sandbox” — as he called his part of Coney Island in an interview with The Associated Press last July. He told the AP that he still wants to play a role in the future of his childhood turf.

City officials said in a statement that the acquired acres will serve “to expand, enhance and make permanent Coney Island’s historic amusement district.”

The city now owns more than 92 percent of the land for a 12-acre outdoor amusement park, part of a new 27-acre entertainment district. In addition, the 65,000 people who live in Coney Island’s gritty, declining projects would get nearly 5,000 new units of housing, including 900 income-targeted units, generating more than 25,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs.