The Bloomberg administration will spend $95.7 million in taxpayer money to purchase 6.9 acres of land in the Coney Island amusement district from millionaire developer Joe Sitt. The deal, which will be officially announced tomorrow, marks the end of a long stalemate between the city and Sitt, who is widely reviled in Coney Island for buying up property, evicting longtime tenants, and letting prime real estate remain vacate as way of essentially blackmailing the city into meeting his demands. Sitt had originally proposed a $1.5 billion Las Vegas style resort, with condos and shopping, but the Bloomberg administration had plans of their own.
The city has rezoned the area to create a year-round amusement park with attractions for "world-class" operators, to be managed by the Parks Department. After his development plan was stymied by the city, Sitt had sought $140 million for 10.5 of the 12.5 acres. The $95.7 million he'll ultimately receive is less money, but for less land, and amounts to more than $300 a square foot for property along the Boardwalk, between the Cyclone and Keyspan Park, including the former home of Astroland. And with the rest of Sitt's property, he'll still be able to throw up some obnoxious hotels and boutiques!
The Times notes that Sitt's done every well buying "but not building things in Brooklyn. In 2005, he bought a parcel west of the amusement district for $13 million and sold it 14 months later for $90 million. He also bought the Albee Square Mall in Downtown Brooklyn for $25 million in 2001, vowing to renovate. He sold it in 2007 for $125 million, without the makeover." As for Coney Island, the Bloomberg administration has vowed to keep the amusement district active while its long-term development plan is implemented. Ultimately, the city will dedicate 12 acres for amusements, renovate Steeplechase Plaza, open a new park and bring in a refurbished wooden carousel.