Offers pouring in for Coney Island's last working carousel could have the carved, wooden horses galloping far from their Brooklyn home. The famed B&B Carousell goes on the auction block Aug. 10 and is expected to fetch more than $2 million, auctioneer Arlan Ettinger said. "Bidders from Nebraska and Colorado expressed the desire to have a beautiful carousel on their village greens. It's a charming thing," Ettinger said.
The Coney Island institution has attracted generations of riders to its 50 horses and two chariots on Surf Ave. near W. 12th St.
But the auctioneer - hired by owner James McCullough - promised that if the city or a preservation group "upped the ante to a fair level," he would cancel the auction to ensure the 93-year-old ride stays in Brooklyn.
"Let someone step up and do the right thing, and we don't have to worry about it going to Wyoming or Nebraska or Colorado," he said.
Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman Janel Patterson said the city would take any "reasonable steps" to acquire the landmark, including bidding for it.
"The city believes that the carousel should remain in Coney Island and hopes the owner will do the right thing," Patterson said.
Preserving the ride is part of the city's sweeping plan to revive Coney Island, which includes expanding the New York Aquarium and bringing new stores and thrill rides.
A wealthy New Yorker already has bid over the minimum $1 million for the merry-go-round, Ettinger said. That bid guaranteed that the ride will remain whole, rather than be sold off horse by horse. He wouldn't reveal anything else about the bidder except that he promised to keep the ride in Brooklyn if he won - but not necessarily Coney Island.
The majestic rides were once commonplace in Coney Island - the birthplace of the amusement park - but Ettinger believes that the B&B Carousell is possibly the last available for sale.
There are about 100 others, but most are protected by preservationist groups, he said.
"This is likely to be the last antique carousel sold in our lifetime," Ettinger said. "The fact that it's the last surviving carousel from Coney Island is a double whammy."
What is it with NEBRASKA getting all this stuff?!?!?
--Robb "I'm telling 'ya, that state is going to be the theme park capital someday!" Alvey
I remember riding one years ago in either '98 or '99 that had ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings. It was the one that was almost right across the street from the Cyclone. Is this the same one they are talking about?
“Imagine something like the Bellagio hotel right now—just stop and see it,” he says, sweeping his hand in a long, slow arc over his head. “The lights. The action. The vitality. The people. We wanna evoke the same feeling you get when you’re in Vegas. It’s exciting. It’s illuminated. It’s sexy.”
Behind him is an aggressively down-market stretch of fast-food stands, dingy arcades, and cheap souvenir shops that have as much in common with the Bellagio as does a three-card-monte table. But when this wiry, frenetic 41-year-old looks at the seediness, he sees an opportunity to do something big. And he can—because all those ramshackle properties belong to him.
Over the past few years, Sitt’s real-estate company, Thor Equities, has quietly spent nearly $100 million buying up a huge swath of Coney Island from multiple owners, painstakingly overtaking perhaps twelve acres of land along the boardwalk, mostly between KeySpan Park, home of the Cyclones, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Sitt, a little-known Manhattan mogul who’s made his fortune building inner-city shopping malls across the country, now lays claim to Coney’s prime turf, its real-estate trophy. It’s no surprise, then, that Sitt’s mysterious plans have stirred plenty of rumors among Coney locals, who worry he’s plotting to develop a shopping mall or a Wal-Mart on their hallowed grounds.
But Sitt’s scheme for reviving the world’s once-premier amusement park is far more ambitious than the whispers suggest. He plans to build a glittering resort paradise right next to the Coney Island boardwalk—a retail and entertainment colossus every bit as outrageous and flamboyant as the Bahamas’ Atlantis. The plan includes megaplexes. An indoor water park. A 500-room, four-star hotel—four stars, in Coney Island!—and, at the center of it all, an enormous, psychedelic carousel laced with visual cues to a Coney Island that Timothy Leary could have dreamed up. Equally spectacular, Sitt hopes, will be a blimp that will take off from the complex’s roof, carrying tourists on joyrides over the city as it flashes the resort’s name in giant technicolor letters: THE BOARDWALK AT CONEY ISLAND. “The dirigible will leave every ten minutes,” Sitt says, jabbing his finger excitedly toward the sky. “On an ongoing basis. Another. Another. Another. Lifting off and taking people on a tour, spreading the message that this is the place to be.” The total price tag: $1 billion, which Sitt hopes to raise from private investors. Sitt has seen Coney Island’s future, and it looks like Vegas—turned up a few notches.
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