Joey Sitt Enjoys Playing with Bulldozers in His Coney Island Sandbox. Art by Tiny Tim
Regular readers may remember the above cartoon from last summer’s post “Joe Sitt Plays in His Coney Island Sandbox” (ATZ, July 21, 2009). Summer 2010 is just thirty days away and guess what? Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt is getting ready to play the demolition game in his Coney Island sandbox.
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.
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.” The Thor-owned buildings under threat of demolition are the Henderson, Grashorn, Bank of Coney Island and Shore Hotel.
Eliot Brown’s piece in the Observer–“The New Coney Island? Sitt Sees Fast Food in Place of Current Buildings”–includes a rendering by Thinkwell that is possibly the worst rendering ever produced for Coney Island. Thinkwell must have been thinking only of the fat fees they get from Thor and not their reputation in the theme park industry when they put their name on it. Anyway it’s pure Bull Sitt because we seriously doubt this interim replacement for the Henderson building — a boxy mall occupied by fast food joints– will ever get built. We suspect it’s just a ploy to make it easier to get a demolition permit from the City.
Thor No More! Joey Bulldozer Poster for Save Coney Island Coalition Rally. January 1, 2008.
We’re also hit by a sense of deja vu. It’s like 2007 on Stillwell Avenue when Thor Equities evicted amusement operators and bulldozed the property to make way for “redevelopment” years ahead of the City’s rezoning. The lots stand empty today. Unfortunately Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt will tear down the historic buildings and build nothing. If the Henderson Building and the Bank of Coney Island are knocked down, the parcels which were rezoned for high rise hotels of up to 27 stories are likely to “sitt” empty until Sitt flips the property.
The situation is so much like 2007, we’ll simply direct you to a three-year-old post by the late great Bob Guskind that could just as well have been written today. (“Coney Island Looking Like Sitt for Memorial Day,” Gowanus Lounge. May 25, 2007)
The Sitt-created blight–which could be corrected by installing temporary amusements–is one thing. But, it is truly a curious thing that as the summer season begins a developer pitching a $2 billion project hasn’t even bothered to prettify the problem or to address the potential public safety hazard that he has created. If we were prone to making extreme statements, we’d call what Mr. Sitt has already done to Coney Island an act of civic contempt that could result in unsavory things as the summer crowds come to the Thor Equities Corridors of Blight. In fact, if we were the types to ascribe underhanded motives to developers, we would suggest that Mr. Sitt has been callous and calculated in creating emptiness and deadness in the heart of Coney Island long before any redevelopment will happen. We might say, in fact, that he is committing a kind of premeditated neighborhood homicide.
Will Save Coney Island hold a funeral for their proposed historic district now or wait till the wrecking ball arrives?
Related posts on ATZ…
April 12, 2010: Evicted by Thor, Coney Island’s Zipper Ride Thrills in Honduras
March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt
February 10, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Amusement Operators Balk, Money Talks at Stillwell
January 8, 2010: Coney Island 2010: Good Riddance to Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Hello Rides?
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