Another thriller is coming to Coney Island, and there’s no admission–unless you want to live there, of course.
Over the past few years, everyone’s attention was focused on the sideshow that was Joe Sitt’s epic fight with Mayor Bloomberg over the fate of Astroland and the Coney Island amusement parks. All the while grocery store kingpin John Catsimatidis has been quietly pitching a big top of his own, three to be exact, for a big condo complex along the boardwalk, The Architect’s Newspaper revealed yesterday.
Rezoned in 2005 for a different developer, the site would have held two buildings of seven stories with 300 apartments. Now Mr. Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Real Estate wants to tweak the zoning to create towers ranging from 14 to 22 stories, with 400 units, designed by Dattner Architects. These would be set along Surf Avenue, rising from a two- to three-story base that extends to the Boardwalk and is lined with retail–Jane Jacobs on the beach.
“For sure there’s a potential for retail on the boardwalk,” Nick Hockens, an attorney for Greenberg Taurig consulting with Red Apple, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “One of the things from a planning perspective is it provides another anchor, but at the other end” of Coney Island.
Mr. Catsimatidis’ approach could make winning approvals for the project more merry-go-round than bumper cars, at least compared to Mr. Sitt’s difficult and drawn-out fight with the city and the community. Where Thor Equities was seen as trying to take over the heart of Coney Island, Red Apple is creating something new from two vacant lots, long parking for school buses, at a location almost 20 blocks from the amusement hub. The the project is surrounded by rent-regulated apartment towers already, providing a strong argument that the towers are not out of place, even if it does all look a bit like Miami.
The bigger fight, as the project wends its way through the public review process over the next six months, could be over the fact that Red Apple wants to make all 400 units market rate.