Before Thor: The International Speedway at Go Kart City on Stillwell Avenue. Photo via coneyislandbattingrange.com
While we wait to hear if any of the “Boardwalk 7″ Mom and Pops will win multi-year leases instead of being booted out, it’s a pleasure to be able to report some good news: Go Karts will make a comeback on Stillwell Avenue in 2012 and the Coney Island Concretewalk was stopped.
Sources tell ATZ that Zamperla, which operates Coney Island’s Luna Park and Scream Zone, has filed plans to put Go Karts and a water ride on Stillwell Avenue across from their thrill park. While we have yet to get a peek at Zamperla’s design for the new track, there’s been talk of a double decker. If you’re not sure what that might look like, check out this video of a state-of-the-art multilevel track at Fun Spot in Orlando.
Although Zamperla does not currently manufacture go karts, the ride played a role in the company’s history, according to bio notes for IAAPA Hall Of Famer and company founder Antonio Zamperla. In the early 1960s, Antonio Zamperla sold one of his first ride designs, a motorized go-kart, to Bertazzon before establishing his own manufacturing facility a few years later.
Go Karts were a popular attraction in Coney Island until Thor Equities bought the property leased by Batting Range and Go Kart City in 2006. When the International Speedway Go-Kart track was bulldozed on the orders of Thor CEO Joe Sitt in March 2007, it was widely viewed as a tactic to pressure the City to rezone for high rise condos in the amusement area. The New York Times said it “harked back to the bad old days of empty lots,” the Brooklyn Paper said “Coney Island looks like a bomb hit it,” and Amos Wengler wrote his protest anthem “Save Coney Island.” Since then a number of different amusement operators have tried to lease Thor’s Stillwell property to put in Go Karts, but they failed to come to an agreement on lease terms.
Billed as “The Largest Go Kart Track in New York City,” Norman Kaufman’s International Raceway cost $6.00 for ten laps and had two-seaters for parents and kids to ride together. People still come by asking for the Go Karts, so the fact that this popular ride is making a comeback is good news for Coney Island.
Quad Helix Go Kart Track at Fun Spot in Orlando: Over 1,600 feet, 4 corkscrews, overpasses, underpasses, 25 degree banked descending curve
As for the water ride, the Coney Island Rumor Mill is speculating that the Reverchon flume will be moved from Luna Park to free up space for more new rides in the park. Zamperla’s Aqua Division also manufactures family-oriented water rides like the Hydro Lift and Hydro Racer. We wouldn’t mind seeing some Bumper Boats, which were our favorite at Kaufman’s park. The new rides will be on “Parcel C,” the City’s third Boardwalk lot leased to Zamperla in a ten-year deal. The three Boardwalk parcels were purchased from Thor Equities for $95.7 million in 2009.
Currently “Parcel C” is occupied by Steve’s Grill House, Beer Island and an empty lot where Vidbel Circus briefly pitched their tent this summer. Steve built his restaurant on the site after Stauch’s Baths and Dance Hall (1930-1998) was demolished. Beer Island was created in 2008 on the former site of Norman Kaufman’s miniature golf course. Will the businesses be offered new leases and new locations? Will the City’s Coney Island Development Corporation adhere to its goal of “encourag[ing] the development and retention of existing businesses”? Sources tell ATZ that Zamperla is expected to make an official announcement about the new rides next month.
More good news for Coney Island: Yesterday, the City’s Public Design Commission put a temporary stop to the Parks Department’s plan to pave all but four blocks of the 2.7 mile Boardwalk with concrete and plastic wood. You can watch the testimony on NY1′s video report. “I think that it’s great that the Design Commission has come to the conclusion that more environmental and engineering studies are required before this project goes forward,” says Todd Dobrin of Friends of the Boardwalk in the video. Kudos to the PDC Commissioners and to Friends of the Boardwalk and the Coney Brighton Boardwalk Alliance.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, it was only a temporary reprieve. In March, a ten-foot-wide Concrete Lane for so-called “emergency vehicles” and an adjoining Plasticwalk were unanimously approved by the Public Design Commission for a pilot project in Brighton Beach. Advocacy groups and local residents sued the Parks Department and the Boardwalk will get its day in court on October 4, 2012.
Parcels A, B & C are City-Owned Property Leased To Zamperla USA/CAI. Parcel A is Luna Park. Parcel B is Scream Zone. Credit: Coney Island Development Corporation
Related posts on ATZ…
March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk
February 29, 2012: Exclusive: Coney Boardwalk Group’s Letter to PDC Rebuts Parks
May 2, 2011: Coney Island 2011: Videos of New Scream Zone Rides
April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!
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