By SHELLEY NG
8:59 AM EST, November 12, 2009
NEW YORK (WPIX)
The hefty deal equates to just shy of $13.6 million per acre and more than $300 per square foot of land. Developer Joseph J. Sitt, who owns 12.5 acres of land in the famed seaside area, originally wanted $140 million for 10.5 acres.
The city's acquisition comes on the heels of an intense four-year battle with Sitt, chief executive officer of Thor Equities ad founder of plus-size clothing chain Ashley Stewart.
In 2005, Sitt began buying land and evicting tenants. But the tug of war between him and the city has since left Coney Island bereft of life and filled with vacant lots.
City officials say their vision is to make Coney Island a year-round attraction, which would include rides, games and attractions between the Cyclone and KeySpan ballpark.
For now, the city is seeking an interim amusement operator and will transition to searching for potential developers.
The city also plans to send representatives to the five-day long International Association of Amusement Parks Convention in Las Vegas on Monday. They aim to solicit varied visions for Coney Island in order to make the area as dynamic as possible and avoid turning it into an amusement mall.
The most of the 6.9 acres is along Boardwalk between the Cyclone and KeySpan ballpark and includes the area where Astroland once stood.
The city's plan for the area also includes a provision to allow residential development of up to 4,500 apartments. Eight hundred-forty of those units are to be set aside for low- to middle-income tenants.
In Coney West, six blocks west of the ballpark, developers will be allowed to create up to 2.700 apartments.
In Coney North, five blocks north of Surf Avenue, between Stillwell Avenue and West 20th Street, as many as 1,800 units can be built.
The plan prohibits resdential development east of KeySpan ballpark and south of Surf Avenue.
Critics of the plan say the juxtaposition of park amusements and high-rise apartment buildings will jeopardize the area's potential to become a top-notch destination.
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