Mall of America clone at Coney Island? Nathan's isn't feeling it

Categories: Mall of America
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Photo by blhphotography
We know the whole world is jealous of our shopping-eating-everything behemoth Mall of America, but do we really need another one out there?

New York's Coney Island has been on the quiet side as of late after the Astroland amusement park shut down last September. Now developers are trying to figure out what to do with the land to keep the people coming back.

So why not make a Mall of America clone? Ask most Twin Cities residents how they feel about our shopping giant and you'll probably get more eye rolls than thumbs-up. Yes, it's a great money maker, but not exactly something we'd imagine alongside a boardwalk and beach. Leave the mall giants for the ugly suburbs.

Footnoted mentioned the potential Mall of America clone idea, which the famous Nathan's hot dog empire isn't so keen on. They are just worried that any nee development has no guarantees of bringing in the crowds to the once-popular summer hot spot for locals and tourists alike.

Also interesting to me in the filing was that the uncertainties over the future of Coney Island -- in a nutshell a developer wanted to turn it into a clone of the Mall of America before the economy cratered -- have become a risk factor for Nathan's.
An excerpt from their 10-K:
The original, flagship Nathan's Famous restaurant is located in the Coney Island amusement district in Coney Island, New York. We believe that customer traffic at this location depends, in part, on the operation of the various area amusements and attractions. One such attraction, the Astroland Amusement Park, has reportedly been closed permanently as of September 2008. Additionally, the City of New York and a private real estate developer have proposed competing plans to redevelop the entire Coney Island amusement district. We are unable to determine the impact of the closing of Astroland and/or the redevelopment of the Coney Island amusement district; however, any substantial decrease in the number of visitors to Coney Island would likely have a material adverse effect on our financial results.
Maybe we're the weird ones, but we really appreciated the run-down grungy feel of Coney Island when we visited last summer. It's a welcome scene after spending too much time playing tourist in the middle of Manhattan. Sometimes the weird and off-beat needs a place too.

A Mall of America clone wouldn't be that far-fetched either. The developer of MOA actually started eying the site back in 2005. And a NYTimes article from earlier this year suggested some ideas of turning Coney Island into an entertainment mecca that would be a "year-round amusement and entertainment destination, with a special 9.4-acre amusement district, as well as new housing, shops and parks."

Sound familiar to something in our own backyard?


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