The Bloomberg administration announced today it has agreed to pay $11 million for a piece of Coney Island boardwalk property, putting into city hands the land under much of Wonder Wheel park owned for decades by the Ward family.
The property was once sought, and nearly acquired, by Thor Equities, the largest landowner in the area which has been sparring with the Bloomberg administration for nearly two years over a vision for the amusement district. Just a few months ago, city officials referred to the site as land controlled by Thor, assuming they would need to purchase it from the developer along with most of the rest of the land along the boardwalk. (The Bloomberg administration wants to assemble a 9-acre swath of city-owned parkland along the boardwalk that would host outdoor amusements.)
The pending purchase of the site, which is surrounded to the left and the right by property owned by Thor, is not without its complications. The Vourderis family, which owns the Wonder Wheel and a set of surrounding rides, has a lease that expires in 2020 that the city would be unable to change without buying out the family.
The Bloomberg administration had been rushing to move forward with a rezoning of the area before Mayor Bloomberg was slated to leave office by the end of 2009, despite there being no clear resolution in sight with Thor. But with the potential for a third term lingering, the city says its timeline will stay the same.
"As far as we’re concerned, it’s still full steam ahead with exactly the timeline that we put forward before," said Lynn Kelly, president of the city-run Coney Island Development Corporation. The city plans to enter the seven-month public approval process for the plan this winter, she said.