Good riddance to the tube socks, cellphone accessories, shoe stores and automative supplies of Thor’s Flea in-fest-ation of last summer! Welcome back amusement rides on Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue? We hope so….
On Thursday the Coney Island Rumor Mill was abuzz as new signage advertising the property “For Lease” was going up at Thor Equities flea market on Stillwell behind Nathan’s. Photographer and ATZ contributor Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 snapped a photo as dusk fell over the wind-ripped tenting that housed Joe Sitt’s flop of a flea last summer. “Maybe the second highest bidder for city land would be interested in this parcel,” Handy speculated. “Gets a lot of traffic from Nathans and the subway.”
Our guess is that several bidders, including the soon-to-be designated winner, have already made inquiries about leasing Thor’s Stillwell property. During the reply period for the City’s RFP for a Coney Island Amusement Operator to bring rides and attractions to land newly purchased from Joe Sitt, potential bidders asked the City about the adjacent vacant lots. The contact info for Thor Equities and Horace Bullard was posted on the City’s Q & A for all potential bidders to see.
The timing of Thor’s signs couldn’t have been better. The short-listed respondents to the City’s RFP were reportedly in the City yesterday and today for meetings with the NYCEDC. If the bidders who didn’t make the short list have fire in their belly to come to Coney Island, now is the time for them to deal with Sitt or Bullard. Given Thor Equities’ history of sky-high rents and onerous lease terms, we think the parcels will go to the most highly motivated bidder.
We think the winner of the City’s 10-year lease on their newly acquired 6.9 acres will want to get control of all of Stillwell and keep other amusement operators from gaining a foothold in Coney Island. Joe Sitt sold approximately half of his Stillwell property to the City. But what good is half a sandwich? It’s not enough if you’re an amusement operator with ambitions of becoming the City’s single operator in Coney Island at the end of the 10-year lease.
A RECAP OF THOR’S UNAMUSING FLEA IN-FEST-ATION
After we reported “Memorial Day Weekend Mania: Thor Equities Coney Flea In-Fest-ation Is a Flop” (May 27, 2009), Thor brazenly went back to calling the so called fest “Flea by the Sea,” both on their website and ads. And why not? “Festival by the Sea” was indeed a flea market by the sea. Even though the permit was for a “temporary fair” because the original application for a flea market was disapproved by the DOB, the City did not enforce its own zoning against the illegal flea market in the amusement zone. “Tons of fun” it was not. A salsa band playing two sets on Saturday and Sunday was the sole entertainment at what was wrongfully billed as “A uniquely entertaining and amusing flea market in Coney Island.” We are not exaggerating. If you can stomach it, please view our complete flickr set of Thor Equities Flea Market.
Yet we saw police towing away ice cream carts belonging to vendors who lacked licenses. The little guys get their businesses shut down while Thor gets this incubator project for his shopping mall. To people who say to us, the tents are pretty or it’s better than an empty lot, we say Thor Equities deliberately created the empty lots on Stillwell in 2007, when they evicted or bulldozed thriving amusements. Remember the batting cages, go karts, bumper boats, mini golf, and climbing wall? Let’s bring ‘em back to Coney Island in 2010.
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February 10, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Amusement Operators Balk, Money Talks at Stillwell