A new development aimed at making Coney Island more of a year-round destination is currently in the works.
Dubbed Seaside Park and Community Arts Center, it is an entertainment complex and public park that will be housed in the empty landmarked space that was once home to the historic Childs Restaurant at 2102 Boardwalk West between West 21st and West 22nd streets.
The project, estimated to cost $53 million, is being developed and operated by a partnership between iStar Financial, an affiliate Coney Island Holdings LLC, and the community-based non-profit Coney Island USA.
According to iStar Financial, the project will include a 5,000-seat amphitheater, a 20,000 square-foot restaurant overlooking the ocean, a playground and an amusement park district, which will be open year-round. The amphitheater will host roughly 15 free and 25 paid concerts during the outdoor concert season. And during the year, an array of community-based recreational and educational events will be held.
“We hope the amphitheater is a catalyst for a neighborhood resurgence,” said Julia Butler, senior vice president at iStar Financial, in a statement.
Though the project is largely welcomed by the community, some residents harbor safety reservations. Evangelean Pugh, a resident and member of Community board 13, said the project could cause too much traffic.
“With the stadium that’s here now you can’t move when there’s events. It took an hour to get from 25th Street to Stillwell Avenue in the middle of the day once,” she said. “And if an emergency happens, what do we do?”
But Butler said the company studied traffic and transit capacity as part of the project’s environmental impact statement and the results allowed it to move forward.
Residents also hope the project will give back to the community in some way. Butler is certain this will happen.
“Neighborhood programming from movie nights and poetry slams to high school graduations and community theater performances are all envisioned for the Amphitheater,” she said.
Butler noted that construction is expected to begin this fall. The opening has been pushed back from 2015 to May 2016.