Bloomberg’s Coney Island Plan Heads to Council Amid Expensive Questions

The fate of the Bloomberg administration’s proposal to remake Coney Island is now in the hands of the City Council and area Councilman Domenic Recchia, who has been critical of key aspects of the plan.

The ambitious proposal, which was approved by the City Planning Commission on Wednesday, imagines hundreds of millions of dollars in city investment to ultimately revitalize the onetime thriving amusement hub, which has gradually degenerated into a mostly vacant skeleton of its old self.

The plan itself has many hurdles—government funding, the need to attract major investment in an unproven area, a complex zoning scheme that envisions hotel development subsidizing expensive rides—but the most pressing now is Thor Equities, the firm led by landlord Joe Sitt that owns most of the land in the main amusement district. Mr. Sitt, who has previously had the support of Mr. Recchia, is in a standoff with the Bloomberg administration over his land, as the city wants to buy him out. At last check, the two parties were in the neighborhood of $30 to $60 million apart.

As the local council member, Mr. Recchia’s support for the plan is key, as the City Council generally gives heavy weight to the area’s representative on land use issues. While he’s been pushing for the city and Mr. Sitt to reach a deal—and many of his criticisms reflect Mr. Sitt’s concerns with how the plan would affect his property—it’s unclear what will ultimately happen if there is no deal.

The Council now has two months to act, and given the way these things generally work, it’s probably safe not to expect a resolution until near the very end.

ebrown@observer.com Bloomberg’s Coney Island Plan Heads to Council Amid Expensive Questions