Exclusive: Billionaire developer planning ‘Coney Island Trolley’ service

The "Ocean Dreams" complex is under construction, but it will soon be the site of a San Francisco-style trolley service. Photo by Matt Tracy/Coney Island News

The western side of Coney Island will soon have its own trolley service that will go from 3514 Surf Ave. to Coney Island’s Stillwell Ave. subway station, billionaire developer John Catsimatidis said in an exclusive interview with Coney Island News.

Developers at Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group originally discussed a bus service for residents of “Ocean Dreams,” which is slated to open in the spring of 2019. The plan was to provide their tenants with the service to alleviate the long distance to the train, but now they are adding a twist to that idea.

“I am designing something even better… a San Francisco trolley,” Catsimatidis said, adding that it would be called the “Coney Island Trolley.”

It has been decades since Coney Island has had an operating trolley service. Catsimatidis said the trolley will be available for anyone — not just residents of “Ocean Dreams” — but he is not sure how much he will charge per ride. He conceded that it is already a costly process to build the foundation of “Ocean Dreams” amid poor soil conditions at the site. “Everything is going to be above grade because of Sandy,” he said.

Residents expressed concern at a community board meeting that the initially-proposed bus service might interfere with the existing B36 bus service across the street. On the flip side, the B36 bus takes an unusually long time to reach the train station from the western end of Coney Island.

Affordability issues?

Affordability issues were among the main concerns among several local residents who railed against the complex at a community board meeting in June. They were disappointed in the lack of affordable housing units and were worried that the complex would drive up prices in the neighborhood. However, Catsimatidis believes the building’s market-rate apartments are aligned with what the community wants.

“We talked about it with the community in the past and there are a lot of affordable units in that neighborhood already,”Catsimatidis said, adding that “the people actually lobbied us” to incorporate more middle class housing.

There will be 440 apartments available at the complex and it will be first-come, first-serve, he said.

Restaurants and grocery stores

As recently as June, Red Apple Group was not sure whether there would be a restaurant included with the complex. But Catsimatidis said the plan now is to include a supermarket and a drug store on Surf Ave. and a restaurant on the boardwalk. When we asked him what type of supermarket is in the works, he said it would be one that New Yorkers are familiar with — but further details are forthcoming.

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About Matt Tracy 129 Articles

Matt is a reporter with experience covering neighborhood news, politics, sports, and more. Send news tips to matt@coneyislandnews.com.

3 Comments

  1. Thank You Matt For Your Great Reporting On The Things Going On In Coney Island. I’m Very Happy To See, And hear All The Things They Are Doing In Coney. Thank YOu For keeping me Informed. I will Pass This Along To All My Friend’s, They Love Coney Too!!

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