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Plans Coming Together For Coney Island Amusement Park Expansion

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Plans are coming together for the biggest expansion to the Coney Island amusement district in more than 60 years. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Although the Stillwell Avenue subway station recently got a multi-million dollar renovation, trash and graffiti are what greet visitors to Coney Island once they get to the street. But developers envision a grand new entrance for the area. Something like a tower of water with a light show and an observation deck overlooking a magnificent amusement park.

“It's this Îwow’ of an introduction,” explained architect Stanton Eskstut. “An orientation to everybody that well, you've just arrived, wait until you see what else there is.”

Eskstut has been hired by development company Thor Equities to help transform ten acres along the Coney Island Boardwalk. Included in the plans are movie theaters and an indoor water park, and the first major roller coaster to be built in the city since the Cyclone in 1927. The ride will take coaster enthusiasts through buildings.

“What we're sketching right now is to how to bring it into the water park, bring it around the cinema lobbies, and integrate it around the carousel,” said Eskstut.

The carousel will be a three-story centerpiece with canopies overhead and glass walls for use year round. The idea is to change Coney Island from a seasonal to a year round destination, complete with hotels, restaurants and stores.

“It's going to be a place that's a constant show, where lights, water, color, and sound is integrated throughout every corner, every block,” said Eskstut.

Developers say the new park will enhance the landmark rides and provide a bridge between Keyspan Park on one end of the strip and the New York Aquarium on the other. The aquarium will soon undergo its own renovation. By year's end a committee is expected to choose which of three designs will become the new exterior for the aquarium.

“The concept behind these designs is to find a way to enhance the aquarium as the eastern anchor of Coney Island,” said Cynthia Reich of the NY Aquarium.

Planners for both projects say they will make sure the boardwalk is incorporated into their plans. Thor Equities said creating its vision could cost $1.5 billion and wants the approvals process to start early next year so that construction can begin. The hope is to have a new amusement park by the year 2011.

-Jeanine Ramirez
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