How's This For Lame! I love a flea, but I know I don't love this
By RICH CALDER
November 16, 2008 --
Expect fewer rides but more thrifty retail on the Coney Island boardwalk next summer.
The fabled seaside is losing Astroland Park, but it's gaining it's very own "Flea by the Sea."
That's the quirky name of a massive outdoor flea market developer Joe Sitt is planning to operate April through December along vacant Stillwell Avenue land he owns off the boardwalk.
Sitt is also planning other interim uses next summer along the remaining 10 acres of land he owns in Coney Island, including the Astroland site. This includes new rides, games, food stands and live entertainment, said Sitt spokesman Stefan Friedman.
The announcement shows Sitt isn't planning to buckle anytime soon in an ongoing two-year-old game of chicken over Coney Island's future with the Bloomberg administration.
The city wants some of Sitt's land to build a new nine-acre amusement park, but the developer won't budge. Rather, he wants zoning changes from the city to create his own $1.5 billion Vegas-style entertainment complex.
The city last month tried to stick a fork in Sitt's plan by purchasing a prime acre of beachfront land the developer desired for his project. With the parcel, he would have controlled 11 contiguous acres of land. Instead, he is left with two large areas of land separated by a parcel that is currently occupied by part of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park.
While Friedman said the flea market would be "shopper's paradise" offering great prices, many Coney Islanders said they had doubts considering Sitt's track record.
Sitt two years ago infuriated City Hall and the community by bulldozing longtime popular rides on Stillwell Avenue – including batting cages – to make way for his stymied project. Since then, he has offered temporary amusements - including a much-maligned "inflatable" water slide – on the site that were huge flops.
Sitt has also come under fire for failing to renew a lease to keep nearby Astroland open next summer.