THE PROBLEM: The city’s plan proposes four high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories along the south side of Surf Avenue, blocking visitors from the amusements and the beach, and destroying Coney Island’s sense of openness and seaside atmosphere.
THE FIX: Move the proposed high-rises north of Surf Avenue, as Coney Island’s Community Board 13 has recommended, or west of Keyspan Park.
Under the City’s plan, it would be difficult to fit large rides within the proposed open-air amusement area.
A comparison to peer amusement parks such as Copenhagen’s famed Tivoli Gardens shows the inadequate size of the City’s proposed open-air amusement area.
Our proposal, which approximates an earlier version of the City’s own plan, could fit the rides necessary to create a world-class amusement destination.

What is “Coney East”?

“Coney East” is the core of Coney Island’s amusement district — home to Astroland, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s and other landmarks. Coney East is bordered by Keyspan Park on the west, Surf Avenue on the north, the Boardwalk on the south, and the Cyclone on the east.

Principles That Should Guide Rezoning in Coney East

1) Maintain Coney East as an area dedicated to amusement uses.

2) Preserve Coney East’s historic open-air, human-scale character.

3) Protect historic structures that tie Coney Island to its rich past.

4) Ensure a place for the small businesses and local entrepreneurs who give Coney Island its creative energy and unique atmosphere.

Problems With The City’s Plan to Rezone Coney East

1) Reduces the area reserved for amusements to a narrow 12-acre strip. “We are concerned that the proposed area set aside for open-air amusements is of insufficient size and that as a result this revitalization effort will not be successful,” the Municipal Art Society warned. A New York Times editorial called it “an area that is simply too small to attract enough rides and attractions to bring back the big crowds.”

2) Allows high-rise towers of up to 27 stories in the core amusement district. A N.Y. Times editorial warned: “The hotels could too easily become a wall, blocking public access to the sideshows and the rides, the boardwalk and the ocean. The hotels also squeeze the outdoor rides into a narrow strip…”

3) Tempts developers to tear down historic Coney Island landmarks. The lots containing Nathan’s and other historic structures along the south side of Surf Avenue would be rezoned to allow for high-rise towers.

4) Clears the way for chain retail and other generic commercial uses. Allowing large formula restaurants and chain retail establishments into the amusement district’s core would take land away from amusement uses and erode Coney Island’s unique character.

Revisions Needed for City’s Rezoning Plan for Coney East

1) Expand the acreage allotted to outdoor amusements. Twelve acres is not enough. At a minimum, the land between the Bowery and the Boardwalk should be reserved for open-air amusements. Land that is not specifically zoned for amusements will be lost to amusements forever.

2) Keep high-rise towers out of Coney East. Hotel towers and other high rises belong north of Surf Avenue or west of Keyspan Park, not in the heart of the amusement district.

3) Provide safeguards against the displacement of small businesses and local entrepreneurs by chain operations. The rezoning should include a greater mix of maximum footprints to encourage a more diverse and desirable mix of businesses, and it should incorporate formula business restrictions.