Coney Island for Sale? We Are Not Amused

Poor Coney Island. Piece by piece it's been dismantled, rezoned, and shut down, all with the promise of building a bigger, better, newer Coney. Now Crain's NY reports that three acres of Coney Island are up for sale, bringing more uncertainty to the already wobbly prospects for the area.

The owner, apparently, is Horace Bullard, who owns the Kansas Fried Chicken chain (which seems to have its home in the Bronx, not Wichita). And we don't know the reason for the sale, or the price.

We do know that there are some constraints on the purchase. It has been rezoned as an amusement district and thus no condos can go up on the site -- forget your living-room view of the Cyclone.

"Amusements, small retail and entertainment" are what's permitted.

What's ironic is that those are exactly what dominated the area in 2008, when the rides at Astroland, an amusement park within Coney Island, were packed up and shipped off because of withered negotiations between Astroland's owner, Carol Alpert, and the developer who owns the land, Thor Equities.

The city purchased 6.9 acres from Thor last year for $95.6 million in an effort to save Coney Island from disappearing altogether.

Joseph Sitt, Thor Equities' chairman, still owns around four acres of Coney Island and said Wednesday that he'll pour $10 million, a small chunk of what the city gave him, into reinvigorating his own amusements. And the city has selected a company, Central Amusement International, to lay out and manage new rides and amusements in the hopes that Coney will blossom once again. They're installing 23 new rides, including a human slingshot and go-karts.

Those who love Coney Island for its grit and attitude might fear that the area will become Disneyfied, much like Times Square -- the charm of Coney has always been its anti-Disneyness, with freak shows instead of princess costumes. They need not be anxious, but shouldn't be too optimistic, either. Some of the old Coney remains, like the frighteningly rickety wooden roller coaster, the Cyclone, and the Wonder Wheel -- both city landmarks and part of extant Deno's Amusement Park.

But let's face it. For now, we still have a smaller, worse, older Coney Island, one losing the dark charm that has always drawn throngs to the area. We'll have to wait and see who buys this current three acres of Coney, and if they can manage to resurrect it without erasing what makes it great.

See homes for sale in Brooklyn, New York at AOL Real Estate.
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