24 October 2007

Uno más!

The world-renowned Astroland has risen from the dead!

Astroland appeared doomed after its Labour Day closing but it will reopen for one more season next year under a deal announced today with the perfectly named Thor Equities, the developer behind the neighbourhood's planned $2 billion makeover.

"Astroland is very pleased that its 300 employees will continue to have jobs, and we want to thank our many supporters and fans who worked so hard to keep Astroland open," said Carol Albert, whose family owns the beachfront attraction.
The last-ditch agreement came after it appeared the park's classic rides had gone dark for the last time on 9 September.

But weeks of negotiations between Thor and the Albert family produced a short-term deal barely 3 months before the old lease expired.

Astroland survived for decades despite hard economic times, the crack epidemic and a decaying neighbourhood to anchor Coney Island since the days of JFK's Camelot.

Thor had already reached deals with 8 boardwalk vendors, including the popular "Shoot the Freak", on similar one-year extensions. Astroland is now scheduled to open for its last summer during the end of winter 18 March 2008.

Thor has spent more than $100 million to acquire about 10 acres of Coney Island real estate in hopes of turning the area into a year-round tourist attraction.

The Alberts were one of the last local holdouts until their decision to sell the property last year. Albert finally sold her property to Thor convinced Astroland would not survive during the local rebuilding. The Alberts received $30M in a deal with Thor for the 3.1-acre stretch off the boardwalk. But Albert was hopeful of squeezing in one final go-round for Astroland and its employees, many of them neighbourhood residents with years of dedicated service.

It was 1962 when Carol's father-in-law Dewey Albert unveiled his outer space-themed park on the beach once billed as "the nation's playground". It evolved into a Coney Island fixture, alongside Nathan's and The Cyclone.

This past summer, Thor scuttled plans to include apartments and luxury condominiums as part of its redevelopment effort, bowing to complaints from critics.

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