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Home Playland Astorino Picks Standard Amusements for Rye Playland: $25 Million Over Five Years

Astorino Picks Standard Amusements for Rye Playland: $25 Million Over Five Years

It seems like there is always a twist that comes after these things are announced, but Rob Astorino has chosen Standard Amusements to run Rye Playland. The deal includes $25 Million that will be invested into the park over five years. The deal needs the approval of the Westchester Board of Legislators.

There is a lot of parse out in the news… we'll have to do that in the days and weeks ahead. 

All reader comments welcome. 

Playlandinvestmentplan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 14, 2015
ASTORINO ANNOUNCES DEAL SECURING PLAYLAND’S LONG-TERM FUTURE

County Executive Secures Arrangements for $25 Million Investment by Standard Amusements
and New Management by Leading Amusement Industry Executive
Iconic Westchester Park Will Open for the 2015 Season on May 9

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced an agreement today that will invest $25 million in private money into Playland over the next five years, securing the long-term future of the county’s iconic 100-acre amusement park in Rye.

Nicholas Singer, a successful investor and native of Westchester, architected the deal to restore the special character of a park he frequented as a child. The $25 million investment will go toward revitalizing Playland with new rides and attractions, as well as upgrading food choices, picnic areas, and restaurants and renovating grounds and buildings. Proposed new rides include a Double AquaLoop Slide, UniCoaster and a mini water park for young children.

“This deal meets our three goals for preserving Playland,” said Astorino. “It stops the losses for taxpayers, which have been running about $4 million a year, it puts the park in the hands of a top-flight operator with strong financial resources and decades of experience, and it revitalizes Playland as a must-visit destination for family fun for years to come.”

New York-based Standard Amusements will pay the county $2,250,000 up front; invest $22,750,000 million of its money within five years into refurbishing the park; and make annual payments to the county starting at $300,000 and escalating 2% a year. The county will also receive 7.5% of profits once Standard Amusements has recouped its initial investment.

“Rye Playland was a special part of my childhood, and I couldn’t be more excited to play a role in its future,” said Singer, a partner of Standard Amusements. “I’m proud that our longstanding vision to revitalize Playland has finally reached this stage and, given my discussions with members of the community, I am very hopeful that our plan will be approved by the Board of Legislators. I am eager to restore the park to its original grandeur and to ensure its success for decades to come.”

For its $25 million investment, Standard Amusements will receive the right to operate the park for 15 years with an option to renew for an additional 15 years under what is being called the Playland Management Agreement (PMA). Standard Amusements has entered into an operating arrangement with United Parks, which is headed by CEO Jack Falfas. The structure of the PMA allows the county to retain full control of the property, as well as any material benefits from the capital improvements made by Standard Amusements.

Playland will open for the 2015 season on May 9 under current county management. The rejuvenation of the park will be handled by Falfas of United Parks, who will be personally overseeing Playland’s operations and will take up residence in Rye during the first full year of the agreement. Falfas is a leading amusement park executive with more than 40 years of operating experience across the country. David Glazek, a partner in Standard Amusements, said: “We are thrilled that Jack has agreed to lead this important project. His extensive experience with amusement park turnarounds makes him ideally suited to help Playland regain its status as the crown jewel of Westchester County parks.”

The agreement now goes to the County Board of Legislators, which has 60 days to approve it. Upon board approval, Standard Amusements would co-manage the park with the county for the remainder of the 2015 season, beginning the transition to its role of sole operator on Nov. 1, 2015.

“My colleagues and I at the Board of Legislators are hopeful that this management agreement will prove to be a good one for Playland, Westchester taxpayers, and the residents of Rye,” said BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz. “We are here together at what we hope is the first step toward a bright future for Playland. Through the Board of Legislators Parks Planning and Housing Committee, we will set an ambitious schedule for a thorough and expeditious review of the new plan that County Executive Astorino has presented to us today.”

The PMA follows a recommendation in the report commissioned by the county from Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, whose principal is Dan Biederman, one of the nation’s leading experts on improving and revitalizing public spaces. The report recommends that the “daily operation of the amusement park and parking lot sections of Playland should be transferred to Standard Amusements” and reached its conclusion after extensive outreach and conversations with virtually every operator who could potentially run the park. 

“Nicholas Singer and his team at Standard Amusements offered the best path forward for the county because of their willingness to guarantee a $25 million investment in the park,” said Biederman. “Without this kind of cash infusion and private management, hopes of rejuvenating and reinvigorating the park are not realistic.”

Under the agreement, Standard Amusements will manage the amusement park, parking lot, beach, pool area and boardwalk. Outside the agreement are the Children’s Museum, Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar, Edith Read Sanctuary and the Ice Casino, which is run by American Skating Centers Entertainment through a separate asset management agreement with the county.

Standard Amusements will continue the park’s current admission policies. Entry into the amusement park will be on a fee basis. Access to the boardwalk and property that surround the amusement park will be free of charge and open to the public.

The investment by Standard Amusements will be used to upgrade the park’s overall appearance (painting, landscaping, façade replacements, pavement work, signage, bathhouse, picnic area and fountain renovations), improve the dining experience (more variety and new venues), restore historic rides, add new attractions (coasters, slides and water elements) and increase marketing. The agreement also gives Standard Amusements the option to have temporary athletic fields installed in the parking lots to accommodate spring and fall sports.

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