Earlier this year, we reported the news of a Coney Island-esque thrill ride coming to a new Times Square hotel.
Since then, the attraction has received some backlash.
The structure was first conceptualized ten years ago after Extell Development acquired the property from Boston Properties and Stephen Ross’ Related Companies. The 51-story Theater District hotel was set to be a one-of-a-kind New York City attraction rivaling some Las Vegas feats.
Designed by ODA Architecture, 825 hotel rooms, and retail shopping will make up the base of the building, while a restaurant and VIP space will be housed in the upper section.
The kicker? Right in the middle of the 1,067-foot tall structure will be a 260-foot freefall drop thrill ride connecting the upper and lower sections.
The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development has since stepped in to announce its opposition to such developments in the middle of the city.
In efforts to evade issues with the city’s zoning restrictions, the ride, heavily inspired by Six Flags’ Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, was listed as an accessory instead of being the major feat of the building.
“It doesn’t violate zoning,” Buildings Department spokesman Andrew Rudansky said, quoting the stated purpose of having the Theater District subzone, which says in part it aims “to preserve, protect and enhance the scale and character of Times Square, the heart of New York City’s entertainment district.”
Rudansky also pointed out several other amusement park-style attractions in nearby skyscrapers, like the City Climb at Hudson Yards and the Summit at One Vanderbilt. Still, it’s evident that the two do not compare to the ride they are planning.
George Janes, an urban planner hired by The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, believes that there’s a place to everything, and for this, it isn’t midtown.
Janes said rides like the one planned atop the W. 46th St. hotel could only be included in areas zoned for these types of attractions using Group 15, 90% of which is located in Coney Island.
In his challenge to the plans, he noted that labeling the drop ride as an “accessory” to the 51-story building is an “entirely irrational and a distortion of the plain, unambiguous meaning of the zoning resolution.”
“I’m not saying if this is right or wrong, I’m just saying that this is against the zoning. If you want this to be legal, change the zoning,” Janes told The Daily News.
Freud says she will continue watching the project but hopes the Building Department reconsiders it.
“I don’t understand how an agency that is supposed to be responsive to the people could approve it,” she said. “Hopefully, the [department] will look it over, and if it doesn’t, there will be a lawsuit.”