This could be one of the most distressing bits of Coney Island news we've seen in a while (other than the cluster**** of "ideas" now making the rounds for its future, about which more in a moment). Apparently, Thor Equities is, per a poster on the Coney Island Message Board, planning to turn Astroland into something called "Flea by the Sea." Holy shit. Here's what the poster says:
Received a flyer today soliciting for vendors for "fleabythesea" a flea market featuring rides, food and live entertainment. Guess where its gonna be? On the Astroland site. The flyer was full color and very professional so I can only assume that Sitt is organizing it himself.In the meantime, there's another "Imagine Coney" session sponsored by the Municipal Art Society (the first of which Thor Equities skipped) taking place on Monday. UPDATE: A Thor Equities spokesperson has issued a statement that "Flea by the Sea" won't be on the Astroland property.
First, we'll add the statement from Thor spokesperson Stefan Friedman, which is an important clarification:
The market would NOT be located on Astroland's old site...Flea by the Sea, a new and exciting addition to Coney's landscape that we are confident will drive substantial traffic to the area from April to December, is just one part of Thor Equities' comprehensive interim usage plan for the summer of 2009. Numerous rides, games, food, live entertainment and this shopper's paradise will combine to offer residents and visitors a one-of-a-kind experience.Now, for the rest of the story. It's hard to know whether to scream, laugh or cry about the big Coney Visions document from the Center for an Urban Future (which has had no involvement in the Coney discussion until now) laid on the world a few days ago allowing everyone from writer Jonathan Lethem (who admits he rarely sets foot in the place) to Chelsea Market developer Irwin Cohen and Red Hook developer Greg O'Connell to opine about Coney's future. Mr. Lethem, for instance, offers that Coney needs "a roller rink or an ice skating rink or a fantastic multi-alleyed bowling alley, like at Chelsea Piers. Their bowling alley is very much in the spirit of Coney Island, it’s like a giant human pinball machine." He also admits: "I haven’t been there substantially in a while except for a couple visits to the Mermaid Parade, and I haven’t used the beach in decades." Lars Liebst of Tivoli Gardens offers:
For Danes, there is something about Coney Island. They don’t know what it is, but they have heard the name. I think you can revitalize that name. It is a very good brand and I think you could use it. It could add another day for the tourists making a trip in New York.We could go on, but we'll conclude with Irwin Cohen, who think part of Coney should be rezoned for food manufacturing and says of the amusement area:It has to be something that does not exist now in New York. I really think it has to be combined with a university without school rooms. Maybe you have to find the next Cirque du Soleil. But you want to find the next step after that. It could be something that’s now in China or India or somewhere else. We don’t know yet. With the population of Brooklyn, if we can get that new idea to come into Coney Island and then use the great stock of young people in Brooklyn to learn how to do all the new things, you now have something that people will have to come to Coney Island to see and experience. Maybe it would be the greatest glass blowing training program that ever existed. Or maybe some new form of circus.Now, about this Flea by the Sea thing.
· Coming to an Astroland by You [Coney Island Message Board]
· Coney Island Visions (WARNING: LARGE PDF) [nycfuture.org]
· Some Brave New Worlds for Coney Island [NYDN]
· The Future of Coney Island [Brownstoner]