Lieber on Coney Island Development

More from Robert Lieber, New York City’s next Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. The Observer met with him in November.

What about Coney Island? Why are you looking for another developer aside from Thor Equities to operate the amusement area there?

What we would like to try to do is look for ways to broaden seasonality of the business there so that it’s not just from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but in a way that emphasizes outdoor amusements so you don’t just have it overrun with projects that look like the Mall of America. We want to present a plan that balances the character and history of Coney Island, that creates new densities so you can get economic growth, but still preserve the dedicated part of the area that will be for amusements and not just entertainment.

But so much of that is what Thor Equities says it wants to do, so why don’t you like its plan?

Because I don’t think that 1,400 hotel rooms packed in on a site with an indoor water park meets the idea of open-air amusements. If it’s an indoor water park, it may be a 12-month season, but it’s not really consistent with the character and history of Coney Island.

When you say 1,400 hotel rooms, where is the market?

We think there is market, but we don’t see that sort of depth in the market. So our plan is going to be much more consistent with a vibrant active amusement area that would carry it through the year, not just 90 days.

Lieber on Coney Island Development