ISO: Amusement Park Operator (Ask For Mike B.)

Now that it has seven acres of Coney Island beachfront property in its mitts, the city isn't wasting time gearing up for next summer. In addition to inviting Lola Staar to return, today the Economic Development Corporation posted on its website a 54-page Request for Proposals for an interim amusement park operator for its new funland. Among the highlights:

  • The winning bidder is expected to, at the very least, open an amusement park on the former Astroland site by mid-May of next year. Though separate bids for the smaller chunks of land on either side of Stillwell Avenue will be considered, a single bid for all three parcels is "preferred."
  • The RFP is looking for "state-of-the-art rides and attractions," though it also says they should "show consideration for the historic character of Coney Island," which would seem to contradict the first part, given that Coney's centerpieces are a wooden roller coaster, a Ferris wheel using the cutting-edge technology known as "gears," and a pre-World War II paratrooper training tower. Subcontracting out portions of the site is cool, but the city gets to approve all subcontractors — presumably to prevent anyone from erecting the Concrete Slide of Death.

  • The remaining old Astroland buildings will be demolished early next year, though the Astrotower (as well as the Boardwalk building that formerly had the Astroland rocket on its roof) will remain standing, at least for now.
  • The city says it expects to sign a lease for its Coney properties for "a term of no more than 10 years." Only once this interim lease is running out will it issue a "Future RFP" for a "Permanent Amusement Park" that will open in the Future. For the better part of the next decade, though, it looks like whoever wins this competition will be the new partner/competition to Deno's.
  • If you happen to have a closetful of teacup rides and want to get in on the action, get your ass in gear: Responses are due by December 18, with a finalist chosen right after Christmas.

To cast the widest possible net for ride operators — or, if you prefer, to ensure that industry hacks are well represented — city representatives are headed to next week's amusement park convention in Las Vegas to solicit bids in person. The Shoot the Freak Guy is already griping that small-time operators like him will be squeezed out of New Coney, which seems a valid concern given that language about a "preferred" single operator. There's no sure way of knowing, though, until the EDC makes its decision over Christmas week. Here's hoping we find a giant elephant under our tree.


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