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Projects & Proposals > Brooklyn > Coney Island Printer Friendly Version
Coney Island Comprehensive Rezoning Plan - Approved!
Existing Context and Zoning
Overview | Existing Context and Zoning| The Proposal | Public Review

Coney Island is located in southern Brooklyn, on the Coney Island peninsula, which is defined by Coney Island Creek and the Atlantic Ocean. Coney Island is located in the western part of the peninsula; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach are located to the east.

The rezoning area is accessible to the entire New York City metropolitan area via the N, Q, D, and F subway lines terminating at the recently renovated Stillwell Avenue subway station. The area is accessible by car via the Belt Parkway, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island through the Verrazano Bridge, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which connects the area with Manhattan and Queens. The area is also in close proximity to JFK International Airport.

Existing Zoning
Existing Zoning Map
Existing Zoning Map - PDF Document View a larger image.
The existing zoning in Coney Island reflects historical land uses and, in most of the rezoning area, is outdated and restricts the growth and expansion of the amusement area and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The plan is the result of the first comprehensive review of the zoning in Coney Island since 1961.

Most of the rezoning area is zoned C7, which permits development of large-scale open amusement parks with very limited complementary uses. For example, sit-down restaurants without entertainment, that have traditionally been located in amusement districts, including Coney Island, are not permitted. Residential and community facility uses are also not permitted in the C7. The C7 district has a maximum FAR of 2.0

Two entire blocks and portions of three blocks located between Surf Avenue and Mermaid Avenue are within an R6 zoning district, where residential uses are permitted. R6 zoning districts permit residential and community facility uses with no height limits and a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of up to 2.43 for residential uses and 4.8 for buildings containing community facility uses. Developers can utilize the optional Quality Housing Program which permits up to 2.2 FAR with a maximum building height of 55 feet on narrow streets, and up to 3.0 FAR with a height limit of 70 feet on wide streets.

A C1-2 commercial overlay is mapped within the existing R6 district on Mermaid Avenue at a depth of 150 feet with the exception of one block where it is mapped at 250 feet. C1-2 permits local retail and service uses at a FAR of 2.0.

Amusement Area History
Coney Island's emergence as a world renowned, one-of-a-kind amusement destination dates back to the mid-19th Century. It has seen the development and the destruction of that era’s most well-known amusement parks in America, including Luna Park, Dreamland and Steeplechase Park. In the 1930s, Coney Island contained sixty bathhouses, thirteen carousels, eleven roller coasters, two hundred restaurants and five hundred businesses ranging from newsstands to arcades and hotels. Coney Island’s spirit is one of accessibility: everyone can participate or watch, breaking down social, gender and racial barriers.

Luna Park 1902-1946
Luna Park 1902-1946         
Steeplechase Park 1897-1964
Steeplechase Park 1897-1964

Since the closing of Steeplechase Park in 1964, the amusement area has significantly shrunk, consisting today of only a few blocks of largely seasonal amusement attractions. Today, and since the closing of Astroland at the end of the summer 2008, the amusement area consists of one block of largely seasonal amusement attractions and a few active frontages along Surf Avenue. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park remains the only open amusement park in Coney Island at that time.

Some of the historic amusement structures remain and lend an iconic presence in the largely vacant rezoning area. A number of these structures are New York City landmarks: the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump and the former Childs restaurant. Despite its decline, Coney Island's amusement area continues to attract thousands of visitors every year, demonstrating its potential and its unique legacy as an urban beachfront amusement destination. The seaside location, easy access to public transit, and extensive Boardwalk remain its unique assets.

Existing Land Use
Aside from Coney Island's few remaining historic icons and some residential and commercial buildings on Mermaid Avenue, which functions as the local retail corridor for the adjacent residential neighborhood, much of the land throughout the proposed rezoning area is either vacant or underutilized.  Most block frontages on both the north and south sides of Surf Avenue, the district's major east-west thoroughfare, are either vacant or used as parking lots. 

The vast majority of the few remaining active uses are seasonal. Nathan’s and Coney Island USA are some of the only uses open during the off-season. The New York City Aquarium, located outside of the rezoning area to the east, is also a year-round attraction and a major draw to the area. 

KeySpan Park occupies the central portion of the rezoning area and was built by the City of New York in 2001 as the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets minor league baseball team.  KeySpan Park attracts thousands of visitors a year during the summer baseball season, which runs from the end of June through early September.  To the west lie two parking lots, totaling approximately 405,000 square feet in area and currently mapped as parkland, that serve the Brooklyn Cyclones during baseball season and are dormant the rest of the year.  The Abe Stark Skating Rink, which serves ice hockey leagues, is located on the boardwalk frontage of one of these parking lots.  An underused Green Thumb garden fronting the Boardwalk shares the southern end of the other block.

South of the Stadium and abutting the Boardwalk is the proposed 2.2 acre Steeplechase Plaza at the base of the Parachute Jump.  The park will feature a skate park, and the restored historic B&B carousel in a permanent building.  The anticipated year of completion is 2011. 

The neighborhood context immediately north and west of the proposed rezoning area is comprised of low-scale, one- and two-family homes, low-rise apartment buildings and 15- to 20-story residential complexes built largely as a result of the urban renewal plans of the 1960's and 70's.  Local retail is primarily located along Mermaid Avenue.

Surf Avenue at West 17th Street looking east
Surf Avenue at West 17th Street looking east
View of KeySpan Park parking lot from Surf Avenue looking towards the Boardwalk and the Parachute Jump
View of KeySpan Park parking lot from Surf Avenue looking towards the Boardwalk and the Parachute Jump
The Cyclone, the historic rollercoaster
The Cyclone, the historic rollercoaster
KeySpan Park at the center of the rezoning area
KeySpan Park at the center of the rezoning area
Nathan's at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues
Nathan's at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues
Amusement area in Winter,
Amusement Area in Winter, 
NYC Landmarked Wonder Wheel

Amusement Area in Summer

Overview | Existing Context and Zoning | The Proposal | Public Review

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