Joe Sitt is doing his best to win over the hearts of Coney Island.
Just in time for summer, the Brooklyn developer announced that he plans to demolish the buildings he still owns in the storied, if gritty, amusement district, and start construction on simple—presumably cheap—(temporary) one-story retail in its place.
In fairness to Mr. Sitt, his goal is to get his new retail open in time for the summer of 2011, and he says he would have to start demolition now to meet that deadline. (The current buildings, mostly along Surf Avenue, host a variety of small food and game vendors.) And these buildings would, in theory, be placeholders, readying the site for more year-round programming in the future.
But the renderings he released, touting his $10 million investment, seem almost designed to inspire distaste. Renderings, by their nature, are fabrications, and developers often put pictures of whatever people want to see (such as gigantic roller coasters that will never be built). Mr. Sitt has gone the other direction, choosing instead to highlight the potential for fast food, slapping a Burger King-like joint on the corner, next to a taco restaurant with signage highly suggestive of Taco Bell.
From a statement put out by Mr. Sitt:
With the work we are commencing today, by Memorial Day, 2011, all of our parcels along Surf Avenue are scheduled to be activated with family-friendly games, food, shopping and other activities that visitors to, and residents of, Coney are clamoring for….
Upgrading and transitioning the local decaying and outdated infrastructure into a modern playground for the world will take time and investment, but with the City’s direction and help we know we can get there.
The thinking, presumably, is that these new buildings would fetch decent rents, and can go up and down with relative speed, allowing Mr. Sitt to replace them rather quickly with larger hotels or other development if and when he is able to go forward on larger developments. When the city rezoned the area late last year, it struck a deal with Mr. Sitt to buy his property close to the boardwalk, and leave him development sites along Surf Avenue, further away from the water.