Yesterday a water pipe burst on the second floor of the Thor Equities-owned Grashorn Building, Coney Island’s oldest building. Water poured down the front of the vacant building, covering it in a sheet of ice and leaving an icy pile on the sidewalk by the end of day. We are of course worried that the leaking water may have done a significant amount of damage to the interior of the historic circa 1880s building. According to Coney Island: Lost and Found, the former Grashorn hardware store served Coney Island’s amusement businesses for more than 60 years. Will water damage plus onerous lease terms put the kibosh on John Strong’s deal to rent the building?
As first reported by ATZ on Monday, Texas-based sideshow operator John Strong came to New York and made a deal with Thor to rent the building at Surf Ave and Jones Walk for his freak and oddity museum. Sources told ATZ that when John Strong learned about the burst pipe, he phoned Thor Equities, which had already been notified of the problem. Strong also indicated that he might walk away from the deal because he had just received a copy of his lease from Thor and it contained a 30 day vacate clause. This clause means if Thor wants Strong out he’d have to leave within 30 days though he has offered to pay the entire season’s rent up front.
Can anyone explain the reason for a 30 day vacate clause on this seasonal lease? We’re told this clause was also in the leases that Thor gave to the Boardwalk businesses last year. Thor Equities onerous leases are infamous in Coney Island. But John Strong has a lot of work to do on both the interior and exterior of the vacant building to prepare it for his freak museum. The extra added attraction for Strong is the apartment on the upper floors of the Grashorn. Strong reportedly said he’d been told it would be up to him to get rid of the squatters and the garbage in the building!
All we can say is if this is the way Thor Equities makes a deal with John Strong, who was instrumental in bringing rides and attractions to Sitt’s Dreamland last summer and has been one of Joe Sitt’s biggest boosters, newcomers beware. Oh yeah, that’s right: business is business. We hope that Thor Equities works out a more equitable lease agreement with John Strong so that the long vacant Grashorn Building will be “Alive!” and open for business this summer.
UPDATE 6:20 PM…ATZ has learned that Thor Equities had the water turned off in the Grashorn Building, salted the icy sidewalk and sent a locksmith to change all the locks. A security guard is now parked in front of the building keeping watch 24 hours a day. Our source speculates that instead of a burst water pipe, squatters who had been occupying the apartments on the upper floors turned all the faucets on and left the water running out of spite. If that’s the case, perhaps they got the idea from “the wet bandits” in the movie Home Alone. Their trademark was to leave the water running after they’d pulled a heist. Anyway, ATZ is glad Coney Island’s oldest building has its own personal security guard while we wait for it to be calendered by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. UPDATE FEB 6: A Little Publicity Doesn’t Hurt Dept: In response to ATZ’s email, John Strong writes: “As of today my concerns have been met and changed on the lease. I am moving forward coming to Coney Island.”
UPDATE April 29, 2010:
John Strong’s deal to rent the Grashorn is off! We’re sorry that rumors of Joe Sitt’s plans to demolish historic buildings which we reported in last week’s post “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010) have turned out to be true. This is one time we would have preferred for the rumors to have remained just rumors.
Today, in response to a flurry of queries from reporters about Sitt’s still unleased empty lots and vacant properties, Thor Equities pr flack Knickerbocker SKD issued a press release announcing Sitt’s intention to begin demolishing the buildings and to replace them with other structures by May 2011. According to the release, “These structures will be replaced with more attractive, retail-friendly and up-to-code shops for the type of retailers Coney is famous for.” See “Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!” (ATZ. April 29, 2010)
Translation: More Bull-Sitt from Thor Equities. More deliberately created empty lots.
Related posts on ATZ…
January 31, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Freak Museum to Lease Coney’s Oldest Building
January 13, 2010: John Strong Sideshow Aims for Coney Island Comeback