Carol Hill Albert a co-owner of Astroland issued a statement on Thursday September 4, that the 46-year old amusement park will have to close its doors for good on Sunday, September 7 because a new lease deal could not be negotiated with the property owner Thor Equities. Her company can continue to operate the Cyclone roller coaster under a separate lease.
In her statement Ms. Hill made it clear that she is not giving up on Coney Island, but she has given up trying to negotiate a lease arrangement with Thor. According to Thor Equities the current lease doesn't expire until the end of the year, but Ms. Hill states she cannot operate the park in a state of limbo. She needs to know now if the park is going to continue to operate. Ride parts must be ordered for the next season at least 10 months in advance. If the park isn’t going to continue she needs at least six months to pack everything up and move it off the property. Either way a decision was needed by the first of this month. Ms. Hill made numerous attempts over the summer to get a two-year extension of the current lease. Joe Stitt, the head of Thor Equities said trough a spokesman that he is waiting to see if the Albert family is bluffing. He eventually plans to replace Astroland with new amusements, but the city is at least a year away from rezoning the area. If Astroland doesn't open next year, Stitt really can't replace it with anything other than perhaps temporary amusements--something he tried this past summer with vacant boardwalk land he owns off Stillwell Ave. That endeavor failed miserably.
In her statement Albert also says:
"Coney Island’s future as a tourism and amusement destination is clearly in peril. Thor Equities, which now owns most of Coney Island, came onto the development scene showing beautiful renderings of this great 21st Century amusement park they were promising to build. All indications, however, are that their real priority is retail and high-end housing. There is a real question as to whether Coney Island will ever have amusements, other than the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, in its future. Instead, it appears to be that a series of shopping malls and condos will replace amusement parks as the centerpiece of the Coney Island that has been here for over 100 years. This is a tragic loss for the city of New York and visitors around the world.
We invite all New Yorkers to come to Astroland this weekend to bid farewell to this historic icon and we look forward to seeing many of our loyal patrons on opening day for the Cyclone roller coaster, Sunday April 5, 2009."