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Amusement purveyor to revamp Coney transit hub

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The owners of Luna Park will transform Coney Island’s sprawling Stillwell Avenue subway station into a shopping and entertainment complex, transit authorities announced Tuesday.

The terminal’s soon-to-be refurbished retail spaces are slated to open by Summer 2020, and will include an arcade and restaurant-bar, a coffee shop, and five other food and retail vendors, the city said.

Earlier this year, the transit agency’s real-estate branch awarded a 15-year-lease for the transit hub to Central Amusement International, a corporation that has run Luna Park since 2010. The international company plans to renovate nine of the station’s 11 retail units — about 7,000 square feet in all — including space currently occupied by local souvenir vendors, a newsstand, and three chain restaurants.

Some Coney Island residents met the plans with excitement, anticipating that the renovations will revitalize a century-old terminal in need of repair. About three of the station’s retail spaces have remained empty since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the palatial edifice suffers from exposure to the salty air, according to local civic gurus.

“I think it’s great that [CAI is] the recipient of the [Request for Proposals],” said Eddie Mark, the District Manager of Community Board 13. He added that the developers’ plans to operate the shopping center year-round would benefit residents of the area.

“They’re familiar with the neighborhood, and they have a good track record,” Mark added.

But other Coney Islanders are slow to trust the Luna Park developer, which controls most of the amusement park, including the Scream Zone between Stillwell Avenue and W. 12th Street, and the B&B Carousel by W. 16th Street. Last year, the international corporation won the rights to develop a water park between the Thunderbolt roller coaster and MCU park.

“It’s a bit disturbing,” said resident and Community Board 13 member, Orlando Mendez. “They’re gong to get everything retail-wise, community-wise,” he said. “Seems like it’s all going exclusively to CAI.”

The Luna Park developers say they will employ local vendors in the station’s retail units, but according to Mendez, the company has broken promises to local businesses before. This year, the corporation decided not to renew a licensing agreement with Feltman’s Hot Dogs — a revival of the company that introduced Coney Island to the frankfurter in 1867. According to Feltman’s owner Michael Quinn, the developer broke several agreements they had made with the eatery, hanging signs and serving food from other vendors at a concession stand that was supposed to exclusively sell Feltman’s brand of delicious dogs.

“They take money from you and they don’t honor contracts,” said Quinn.

And Quinn’s accusations, coupled with the company’s steady expansion throughout Coney Island’s amusement district, has led Mendez to distrust the developer’s promise to support local businesses.

“They’re going to be displacing existing businesses,” he said. “Now they’ve got more concessions on the island than the mom ’n’ pops.”

A spokesman for Central Amusement International did not immediately comment regarding its contract with Feltman’s, or Mendez’s criticisms.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306.
Updated 12:03 pm, July 11, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

David from Coney says:
This is amazing, can we have some quality food options? Quality restaurants and a deviation from the sprawling fast food restaurants. Farm to table, hipster spots that cater to the uniqueness of gastronomy. There are way to many fast food joints, time to bring in the food honchos to revamp the food scene. Also let's bring in some beautiful graffiti to coney island outside of the art walls, and promote living quarters to artists and musicians alike :))
July 10, 3:26 pm
Farmer John from The sticks says:
Every restaurant is farm to table. What David is asking for is pretentious, overpriced and snooty restaurants that the locals know to stay far away from. The hipster crowd already summers in Rockaway, go there if you want to piss your money away.
July 10, 4:05 pm
Robert from Bensonhurst says:
Right there with you Farmer John. Those types are merely looking for the latest fad then they move on leaving high rent. There must be a better way. I am all for better food but it's not the price but rather the cost that concerns me.
July 11, 8:18 am
Daniel Ioannou from Coney Island says:
Sweetheart deals... 1) CAI was able to secure the lease to the thunderbolt lot, which is owned by the city. The NYCEDC refused to disclose the terms of that deal. 2) CAI was able to secure leasing city owned street, yes streets that are driven on, that are parked on. There is a plan to close off the following streets between Surf and the Boardwalk: West 15th, Stilwell and West 12th. CAI will be allowed to put concessions on the streets. 3) Now the train terminal.... There is clearly a push to hand everything to one operator. Other operators leases end soon. I will not be surprised if the city does not extend the lease to the same operator and instead offer it to CAI. How is that PAID, City controlled neighborhood advocacy group working out?
July 11, 11:13 am
Alex from West Brighton says:
Who cares guys, as long as they improve there area, make the streets safer, add new stores, cafes etc if one entity wants to rule that all sure.. No way can people be happy with the present condition of CI. The improvement coming are amazing.
July 11, 12:49 pm
Ro from Park Slope says:
Wow! CAI can show good faith and respect to the the history of this community with a renewed, reasonably priced lease to the family who revived the company that first introduced Coney Island to the frankfurter in 1867. This transit terminal is a great new location for "Feltman’s Hot Dogs." Now that's a Stillwell Avenue station renovation I can definitely support!
July 11, 1:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't see why there needs to be restaurants at this subway station when there are already a lot of them around the area right now.
July 11, 2:13 pm
Gary says:
Bring back the free summer concert series and let Marty Markowitz run it.
July 11, 2:14 pm
Lina says:
They Need To Put Clothing Stores Out There All You See Is Restaurants I Don't Care How There Trying To Improve Things When You Have Body Parts Popping Up On The Beach You Have People Getting Shot In The Leg In The Day Light First Clean The Bad Elements Out The Area Then Things Will Be Improved Its Not Only About That Amusement Park Ok People Lice In Coney Island And There Fedup With The Shootings The Crime The Slums And The Killings Spend The Money On Cleaning That Yp First Then You Can Have A Better Neighborhood In Coney Island , Thats Why I Moved !!!!!
July 12, 12:07 am
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
More small and big businesses inside this subway terminal, more revenue to the neighborhood economy but more money to the cash-strapped MTA coffers.
July 12, 9:50 am

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