Grassroots activist group Save Coney Island today blasted developer Thor Equities over its closure Friday of the so-called “Dreamland” amusement park, with the developer citing a rent dispute with its own hand-picked amusement operator. “Dreamland” was Thor’s supposed attempt to fill the void it created in Coney Island when it cruelly forced out Astroland, which was Coney Island’s anchor amusement park for almost half a century until Thor refused to renew its lease last year.
“The closure of ‘Dreamland,’ Thor Equities’ half-hearted attempt at an amusement park, is only the latest installment in Thor’s deliberate campaign to blight Coney Island,” said Save Coney Island spokesman Juan Rivero. “First, Thor senselessly drove out many of Coney Island’s long-established amusements — including the beloved Astroland amusement park — now Thor is even shutting down the amusements that they themselves brought in.”
Longtime Coney Island business owner Dianna Carlin, who had operated the Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique on the boardwalk until being evicted by Thor earlier this year, condemned Thor’s latest action.
“I am horrified that Thor Equities is being allowed to ravage and darken the once vibrant and active business community of Coney Island,” she said. “Since Thor Equities evicted Astroland, we have worked so hard to promote the fact that Coney Island is still open and alive. The closing of their ‘Dreamland’ amusement park perpetuates the idea that Coney Island is closed.”
Carlin, who now operates the Dreamland Roller Rink — unrelated to Thor’s “Dreamland” — in the old Childs Restaurant building, said that Thor has “delivered another harsh blow to Coney Island by closing their ‘Dreamland,’ crippling business for the remaining attractions in these final weeks of summer.”
“Earlier this year, Thor evicted me from the business on the boardwalk that I owned for nine years, the Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique. They replaced it with a lemonade stand, which has long since been boarded up, leaving my former storefront on the boardwalk vacant,” Carlin said. “Now my customers are confused about whether or not my business, Dreamland Roller Rink, is open because Thor stole my name, ‘Dreamland,’ for its amusement park.”
Thor’s action comes less than a month after the City Council passed a badly flawed rezoning plan for Coney Island, which radically shrinks the famed amusement district. The city’s plan rewarded Thor’s destructive behavior by upzoning Thor’s land, increasing its value and allowing the developer to build high-rises of up to 30 stories in the heart of the amusement district.
Save Coney Island urges the City to buy out all of the land owned by Thor Equities in Coney Island’s amusement district so that the developer will no longer be able to ruin this world-renowned New York City treasure.
“This latest incident demonstrates yet again the need to entirely remove Thor Equities from the amusement area,” Rivero said. “If we want to restore Coney Island’s historic amusement district to a stature worthy of its name and preserve it for future generations, Thor must be taken out of the picture.”