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Coney Island's Future: A Plea for Quirkiness

Starts and Fits publishes an appraisal of the Coney Island situation, keying off the recently revealed plans (above) from Thor Equities that might just get built. The missive, by urban planner Juan Rivero, is great reading. Rivero's argument—that shoehorning mall-like commercial and bland residential development into such a quirky neighborhood is a silly use of a special space—is buttressed by clever economic thinking:

Look at the example of two current Coney Island entrepreneurs, Lola Staar and Coney Island USA. The former has started a line of Coney Island-inspired clothing that is sold is stores throughout the City and beyond. The latter has launched a burlesque revival that has spread throughout the City, sparking a renewed interest in a form of performance indigenous to, and closely associated with, Coney Island. Both ventures have, in their respective ways, built on the legacy of Coney Island, promoted its uniqueness, and drawn attention to it in a way that corporate retail could never do. And yet, city officials, unable to look beyond the Times Square template, continue to regard the influx of corporate retail as an all-purpose cure for urban decay. I find it ironic that the most generic little town does its best to set itself apart from other towns by highlighting its history. But New York, which actually does have a rich heritage to draw from, spends its time and money trying to look like Nowhere, USA.

· Authenticity Versus the Coney Island Strategic Plan [Starts and Fits]
· Coney Island Going Vegas, Baby [Curbed]