Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 8:15 AM | Contributed by Jeff
The city today begins construction of a long-anticipated piece of the Coney Island makeover — Steeplechase Plaza, which officials are banking on to make the boardwalk west of Stillwell Avenue rival in popularity to Luna Park and the rest of the amusement area to the east. The $29.5 million, 2.2-acre plaza will feature a new pavilion for the historic 1919 B&B Carousel, which was rescued from auction by the Bloomberg administration in 2005, that will help showcase the landmark Parachute Jump.
Read more from The New York Post.
I hope they don't repeat the mistake that they made with the former Idora Park machine. They put it in a glass fishbowl of a building that has inadequate ventilation and is much too "live" acoustically so that it will never be able to accommodate a band organ. The rendering is a bit vague as whether it's an "open" building or not. Can't say that I care for the marquee tho.
I'm guessing the Parachute tower will continue to be non-operational?
The Parachute jump was always a money loser when it was open. It was an incredibly expensive ride to operate due to the inordinate number of people it took to run it and it's relatively slow throughput. Additionally, it was subject to a lot of downtime due to wind conditions. The Tilyou's recognized the importance of the ride being an iconic fixture for their park and could justify the loss based on their overall operations.
There have been studies on what it would take to reactivate the ride in the last 10 years. Estimates on reopening the ride in some form have come in at $15 million plus. The major problems are that the structure cannot be visually altered due to its landmark status, and there is no way the ride could be run as it originally operated due to modern safety and insurance regulations. Keep in mind that while there were a lot of safety features built into the ride, the parachutes actually did function as part of the mechanism in slowing down the drop. I don't think anyone could recoup their investment in a reasonable amount of time in reopening and operating the ride unfortunately. The Parachute drop is now somewhat isolated from the current amusement area and even with the addition of the B&B carousel at it's base, I'm not sure if that would be enough of a draw without a large base of amusements (such as the original Steeplechase park) to support it.
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