Luxury condos could finally be coming to Coney Island Beach nearly 40 years after they were first shot down.
Last week, Community Board 13 gave the go-ahead to change zoning on two lots at the neighborhood’s neglected western edge, 20 blocks away from the amusement hub — and steps away from exclusive Sea Gate — where a developer wants to build three high-rise condo towers and retail stores.
If the city moves ahead with the rezone, it will be the first time luxury, market-rate housing will be built on the ocean-side of Surf Avenue. The city’s 2009 re-zoning of the neighborhood allows for ocean-side high-rises just west of MCU Park between Parachute Way and W. 22nd Street, but the homes must be affordable for low-income residents — both renters and owners — according to the Department of City Planning. The condo complex and shopping center, dubbed Ocean Dreams, is slated to be built on two seaside lots between W. 34th and 36th streets, Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk. The buildings would have 400 apartments, a parking lot, and two courtyards for lounging.
In order for the project to get the green light, developer Red Apple Real Estate needs the city to change the lots zoning to allow for the towers which, at 14, 18 and 22 stories, would be more than double the size the current zoning allows.
Community Board 14 voted in favor of the variance 23 to 5, as members say that Ocean Dreams will bring much-needed economic activity to the area.
“It’s an important part of the redevelopment of Coney Island,” said board member Brian Gottlieb.
Under the plan, restaurants could line the Boardwalk, and a supermarket could be placed at street level. The latter would be a boon to locals who say that western Coney’s small-scale groceries and Neptune Avenue’s Key Food don’t suffice.
“It would be nice to have a supermarket there,” said resident Ida Sanoff.
The board’s approval is a major moment in Coney history, as Ocean Dreams would be the first luxury condos to be built on the neighborhood’s iconic Boardwalk. Previous proposals to turn the People’s Playgound into a luxury residential community were shot down, including the quest by real estate mogul Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, to build Miami Beach-style high rises on the former Steeplechase Park site in the 1960s. His plan was defeated after a decade-long court battle with the city to change the property’s amusement district zoning.
“It wasn’t a great area for a condo development,” said longtime activist and Community Board 13 member Lou Powsner. “It’s meant to be an amusement area.”
The new project is actually a revamp of a flopped 2005 proposal, which featured only two seven-story buildings and no retail.
“We went back to the drawing board and now have a great project and great location,” said Red Apple lawyer Jay Segal.
But like any major project, battles could be brewing. Some are concerned that the average Coney resident will not be able to afford market-rate condos.
“The developers aren’t being clear if the housing will be affordable,” said Community Board 13 member Evelyn Strasser, one of the five people who voted against Ocean Dreams. “It could be unfair to people in the community.”
Department of City Planning documents from the original 2005 proposal estimate the apartments will cost between $350,000 and $600,000, but Red Apple won’t specify what the new rates will be.
“The buildings are in a low and moderate income area, so the rates will be reasonable,” said David Weisz, who is spearheading the project with Red Apple.
©2011 Community News Group
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