Other news that came 'round the bend this weekend is that Coney Island's Astroland has a new lease on life. At least, a new lease for 2008. The park will be run by the Albert family, who sold the land to Thor Equities for a cool $30 million. Thor's initial goal was to turn Coney Island into Condo Island, but after buying up most of the land in the former amusement zone and then running into opposition from Brooklyn locals and Brooklyn city officials, found themselves with a bunch of empty, un-rezoned land -- plus one amusement park -- that weren't going to be condofied any time soon. However, Thor has this habit of buying up parcels of land (such as one of Andy Warhol's Factory buildings) with declared intent to rebuild anew, only to demolish the site and flip the empty lot for a nice tidy profit. Would they do the same to Astroland once it closed "for good" in September?
Apparently not. Thor's still got plans for "the New Coney Island", which of course sounds about as awesome as "The New Scooby-Doo and Scrappy Hour" but with less actual entertainment ("C'mon, Uncle Scoob! Let's help design a lifestyle center on the newly-rezoned abandoned amusement park! Ta-ta-ta ta ta taaaaaa!") However, as they're not gonna be building for most of 2008, I guess Thor decided to let the Alberts run Astroland another season (but not, one hopes, with the outrageous $3 million rent that Thor originally demanded in an attempt to scare Astroland closed.) They've already got enough vacant lots in Coney, yanking out venerable institutions such as the independent concessionaires only to surround the empty lots with plywood fences. They might as well keep some form of color around.
So Astroland will be open for its Second Last Season in 2008. Here's hoping they not only stay open in 2009, but stay open for good. A Third Last Season would turn the park into the used furniture store of the amusement park industry (you know, the one that's been "Going Out Of Business" for years now. EVERYTHING MUST GO!)
Borrowed time is always nice, if a bit nerve-wracking. I hope the time was borrowed well.