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Coney Offensive Begins, But Nathan's Dogged By Questions

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The city is kicking off the public approval process for its massive Coney Island rezoning plan today, and if you've been confused by all the action down on the southern tip of Brooklyn lately, now's a good time to start paying attention (oh, by the way, Astroland is gone). The city's 47-acre vision is change Coney Island can believe in, because Bloomberg & Co. has the resources/muscle to strike a deal with major Coney landlord Thor Equities. The plan, which preserves an amusement district while adding 4,500 apartments, 800 hotel rooms, new retail and other development, kicks off at 1 p.m. with a meeting at the Department of City Planning before heading on to the local community board and borough president. In a statement, Mayor Bloomberg said, "The plan to revitalize to Coney Island will substantially increase the storied amusement area, creating a year-round attraction that will bring tourists and visitors to Brooklyn." Hot dog purists might not agree!

The Daily News reports on some of the proposal's headlines: a 27-story limit on the height of new buildings (the same as the landmarked Parachute Jump, seen in the Boardwalk rendering above), potential new attractions including an IMAX theater, and a new "Wonder Wheel Way" that will connect Coney's three iconic rides: the Ferris wheel, the Cyclone and the (decommissioned) Parachute Jump. Gowanus Lounge has renderings of Wonder Wheel Way and more. Note that the drawings really only hint at the high-rises to be. Sneaky!

Meanwhile, the Post reads deep into the $2.5 billion proposal and turns up a bit of controversy. The Nathan's hot dog stand, at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues since 1916, may "make way for more lucrative development should land values skyrocket once the rezoning is approved." Whoa now. According to the city document, Nathan's could be replaced with a new building containing hotel, amusement and other retail uses. A spokesman for the mayor told the paper that talk of any such action is premature, but dude, it's in the friggin' document. Nathan's could also potentially expand on the site, "possibly a sit-down restaurant, catering or even a hot-dog ride." Um, awesome? The smaller Nathan's stand on the Boardwalk is of course leased from Thor Equities, which is evicting everything off the Boardwalk in a display of macho head games. Let the wheeling and dealing begin!
· City unveils Coney Island revival plan: 'Wonder Wheel Way' to connect three iconic rides [NYDN]
· Coney Is. Plan Bits Nathan's [NYPost]
· Coney Follies Open: Review Starts + Renderings V.4.5 (Beta) [GL]

UPDATE: Nathan's CEO Eric Gatoff has issued this statement in response to the Post's report and its fallout: "Nathan's Famous supports all efforts to revitalize Coney Island. We remain committed to Coney Island in the long-term and we fully intend to maintain our historic flagship restaurant at 1310 Surf Avenue, which has been the heart of the company since it was established in 1916.

As to the latest report issued by the City, we believe the information relating to Nathan's Famous is being misinterpreted and that there is no intention to replace or demolish our flagship location. In fact, the Coney Island Development Corporation's own drawings of its intended redevelopment continue to show Nathan's Famous in the same location on which it has stood for 93 years, on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, at the front door to the 'People's Playground.'"