This week, the framework for a large sign was erected on the roof of Thor Equities new building at Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island. Will it be a billboard for a business or another one of Thor Equities “Space for Lease” teasers? As a photographer friend says: “That’s how you can tell a Thor property in Coney Island…the ‘For Lease’ sign!”
The building is the first sight you see when exiting Stillwell Terminal and we’ve taken many photos from this vantage point. There’s even a flickr group called DNALSI YENOC — Coney Island spelled backwards– showing how this view has changed over the past few years. Watch this space to see yet one more. In the meantime, here’s a look back at the signage, dating back to 2007, on Joe Sitt’s properties in Coney Island.
The photo above shows the same view one year ago, when Thor’s building was completed and then immediately covered with plywood and a signature banner trumpeting “Retail Space Available.” The building remained vacant but now has at least three tenants for the 2013 season that ATZ was able to confirm: Maritza’s Souvenir Shop, a longtime tenant of the historic Henderson Building which was demo’d to make way for the generic-looking new building, is back in her old spot for the summer. It’Sugar, a Miami-based candy retailer, has the corner store and is expected to open May 3. Wampum, a lifestyle clothing brand and skateboard shop with two other locations in Bridgehampton and Nolita, is slated to open in Coney on May 24.
On Memorial Day Weekend 2012, the plywood on the Surf Avenue side of Thor’s vacant building came alive with this Funny Face mural. On Stillwell, the plywood remained dotted with signs touting “CONEY ISLAND – The RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME – for leasing contact…” As we wrote previously: “Ain’t it just like Joe Sitt to tout retail when Coney Island, the birthplace of the amusement industry, is expecting its best season yet because of the success of Luna Park on land purchased by the City from Thor?”
Now we’re time-traveling back to July 2009, a few weeks before the City Council passed the rezoning that allows high-rise hotels on Joe Sitt’s property on the south side side of Surf, including this lot! The original caption on the photo was “View of Endangered Historic Buildings Owned by Thor Equities” and called people to a rally to “Save Coney Island.” Sadly, the Henderson Building and the Shore Hotel, seen above, were demolished in December 2010.
During the 2009 season, Thor’s banners touted “Festival by the Sea. A Uniquely Entertaining and Amusing Flea Market in Coney Island. Head Straight on Stillwell for Tons of Fun.” It was not.
One of the most eye-catching signs at the flea market was “Closed due to threat of bad weather” posted on a sunny day in May due to a tent malfunction. You can’t make this stuff up. It was soon replaced by one that read “Pardon our Appearance while we adjust our tents.” Translation: The City’s DOB was requiring that the tents and structures be able to withstand hurricane force winds before issuing a C of O.
Plastered with Thor’s ubiquitous “Space for Lease” signs but never leased, Coney Island’s Shore Hotel was boarded up with plywood painted in festive colors. A much smaller sign on a fence said “ATTENTION The Shore Hotel has closed down.”
The Shore Hotel was built circa 1903 and demolished by Thor Equities on December 10, 2010. It took only a couple of days for the demo men to take down the century-old wood frame building. There was nothing left of “Nature’s Paradise by the Sea” but a pile of sticks to be hauled away.
One signage-related highlight of 2008 was Joe Sitt being called “The Grinch Who Stole Coney Island” by the New York Post after cutting locks and hanging for lease banners on his Boardwalk and Stillwell properties on Christmas Eve. A section of the gigantic banner on the Henderson Building is seen in the photo below. R.I.P Shoot Out the Star. So far, Thor’s new building at Surf and Stillwell has no tenants with amusement games or arcades.
Also in 2008, Thor’s “Future of Coney Island” banners were recycled by tenants as decorative backdrops for their games. In January 2009, the slogan was tarnished when Thor’s Future of Coney Island website URL was taken over by a Belgian porn entrepreneur. “Who ever would have thunk the Future of Coney Island would turn out to be Biker Chicks in Heat and Lust on the Beach? Our suggestion: Somebody reopen the Shore Hotel right away with free 24/7 Belgian porn,” wrote Gowanus Lounge’s Bob Guskind.
Thor regained control of the URL but later gave it up. Yes, that’s right, Joe Sitt no longer owns “The FutureofConeyIsland.com”! If you type in the URL, you’re redirected to its new owner, real estate site LivingThere.com (“A Better Way to Find a Home”). Wanna buy an “exquisitely spacious 2 bedroom/1 bath coop in Trump Village Section 3 on a high floor offers spectacular views of the ocean from every room and balcony”?
Related posts on ATZ…
April 19, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Evicted Souvenir Shop Returns to Its Spot
February 13, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store
December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?