The first private beachfront condominiums to be built on the Coney Island Boardwalk are under construction at West 32nd Street and are expected to be completed this summer. The four-story building will have 11 units including 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, each with its own parking stall. Marina Krasnova of New Vision told ATZ that sales prices range from $685,000 for a one-bedroom to $1.55 million for the penthouse.
Located in the West End of Coney Island, across the street from the NYC Housing Authority’s Coney Island Houses, this new construction is a harbinger of more beachfront residential to come. The rezoning plan approved by the City Council in 2009 put 26 high rise residential towers and 5,000 new units of housing in Coney Island, including beachfront condos on Taconic Investment Partners 5.5 blocks of vacant land just west of MCU Park (West 20th Street).
We think it is the future beachfront residential, which Taconic has valued at $300-$900 per square foot, that is driving the City’s plan to gentrify the Boardwalk and make it into a year-round destination with upscale restaurants and bars.
Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, who grew up in Coney Island Houses, tells ATZ that the lot on West 32nd Street has been vacant since 1982. “It was the site of Sam’s Knishes and the Lincoln Baths,” said Denson, whose book Coney Island: Lost and Found combines a history of land use in his neighborhood and boyhood memoir. “Sam’s had the best cherry cheese knishes in the world and the Lincoln Baths go back over 110 years.” On the History Project’s blog “Ask Mr Coney Island,” Denson notes that the Lincoln Baths, along with the Washington Baths (W 21st St), Roosevelt Baths (W 30th St) and Jefferson Baths (W 33rd St) were Coney Island’s “presidential bathhouses.”
“The bathhouses were where people rented lockers and changed from street clothes to swim suits. You could also rent swimsuits and beach chairs and umbrellas,” writes Denson. “They were very social places and generations of families and friends from the same neighborhoods patronized the same bathhouses for years until the last one (Brighton Beach Baths) was demolished in the early 1990s.”
How did it happen that land once occupied by bathhouses patronized by working class New Yorkers is destined to become luxury beachfront apartments? The Washington Baths site, which Thor Equities bought from Horace Bullard for $13 million, was flipped to Taconic for an exorbitant $90 million because both parties were sure the City would rezone it for residential.
Taconic Investment Partners plans to build a glittering city of 2,500 apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail west and north of MCU Park. According to Taconic’s website: “The North Venture consists of three city blocks on the North side of Surf Avenue totaling nearly 109,000 square feet. One block from the beach, these parcels include vacant or under-improved land. Coney Island South Venture encompasses 5.5 acres on the south side of Surf Avenue, interspersed over four blocks along the beachfront, and is also comprised of vacant or under-improved land totaling nearly 240,000 square feet.”
As Taconic CEO William Bendit told Eliot Brown of the New York Observer in an interview in 2009: “What attracted us to Coney Island was the fact that it’s vacant land—we didn’t have to dispossess anybody, relocate anybody. And it’s the beachfront. How much beachfront land is there in New York City? Not only that, but beachfront land that’s accessible to the subway. So, if you think about it, how many young people, or anybody, for that matter, would like to commute into New York or Brooklyn, and go home at night and live on the beach?”
What would it take to make you move to the new Coney Island?
Related posts on ATZ…
December 20, 2011: Update: Coney Island’s 1st Private Beachfront Condos on Boardwalk
January 11, 2010: Steeplechase Pool, Zip Coaster Sites to Be De-Mapped for Housing