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Posts Tagged ‘Bloomberg’

Shore Hotel Nature's Paradise by the Sea. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shore Hotel Nature's Paradise by the Sea. April 26, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In an exclusive interview this week on Fox Business News, Joe Sitt, the real estate speculator who’s been holding Coney Island hostage in his battle to turn it into a shopping mall dotted with high rises, had this to say: “The way I look at it you’ve got to let other people play in the sandbox and be a good friend to folks. I’m looking forward to working with the Mayor of New York and sharing the development of Coney Island and hopefully seeing some hotels come to that marketplace.”

Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt sharing? We’re deeply cynical. Sitt’s history in Coney Island has consisted of buying and flipping property (Washington Baths bought for $13 million, sold for $90 million), keeping historic properties vacant or underutilized by evicting longtime tenants or tripling the rent (Astroland, Boardwalk, Grashorn Building, Shore Hotel, west side of Jones Walk), and bulldozing thriving amusements on Stillwell to create empty lots and a failed flea market.

The Coney segment is at the tail end of a conversation about “Rebounding Real Estate?” 4:10 to be precise. Watch it here…

The clip begins with the reporter asking: “What does somebody who owns more than $3 billion dollars worth of property in the nation’s most populated cities have to say about the real estate market and where it’s headed?” As Sitt yaks about investment opportunities in commercial real estate, a caption reminds the viewer that “Thor Equities owns 11 acres of Coney Island Amusement Park.”

Fox didn’t show any pix of Sitt’s property, so here’s a few shots from my Thorland set on flickr (photodocumentation from between 03 Sep 2007 & 18 Jul 2009). In the pic below, note unused tables due to lack of vendors. Note shuttered water race game across the street in the Henderson Building aka the historic Henderson’s Music Hall. Gee that’s funny, didn’t Sitt’s pr flack say Thor Equities property was 100% active in 2009?

More used DVD's at Joe Sitt's Flea Flop. July 12, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

More used DVD's at Joe Sitt's Flea Flop. July 12, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The reporter finally asks Sitt if “you guys” –Joey Coney Island and Mayor Mike– are close to resolving their differences. It’s the question on everyone’s mind. When the City Council passed the Coney Rezoning on July 29, there was some serious wheelin’ and dealin’ going on behind closed doors. Charles Bagli’s article in the New York Times had us on the edge of our seat: “Under the tentative deal, according to officials and executives involved in the talks, the city will buy six of Mr. Sitt’s 10 acres, leaving the remaining property on Surf and Stillwell Avenues for him to develop.” The City and Sitt’s attorney were said to be negotiating till 11 pm on the night before the hearing and through the Council meeting. Evidently the two sides never sealed the deal, or perhaps the selling price was deemed too exorbitant to make public before the election? Oh, if we were a fly on the wall at these so-called negotiations, what a delicious tell-all this would be!

Now Sitt is telling Fox News that there have been bumps in the road, but he and “Mayor Mike” are closer than they’ve ever been to a deal. Well, this is not exactly news because Bloomberg said what amounts to the same thing in a sit-down with the Brooklyn Paper back in August: “Fundamentally, the deal with him is done.”

Thor Equities Space for Lease. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities Space for Lease Sign on the Still Vacant Bank of Coney Island Building. August 8, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

For the past four months, it’s been awfully quiet on the Coney Island redevelopment news front. It’s as if all of the usual sources had been told to keep their lips zipped till after the election. Yet the Coney Island Rumor Mill is abuzz. Rumors come and go, but the one that sticks around is that the City is buying the Astroland site and will close on it after Bloomberg wins a third term.

Unanswered questions: Is the City buying more than the Astro site from Sitt? What happened to the now three-month-old, 6 out of 10 acres deal? Or will the City go all out and buy the Stillwell lots as well? What will happen to the former Bank of Coney Island building on 12th Street and the Henderson Music Hall at Stillwell and Bowery. Both historic buildings occupy lots rezoned for the proposed high rise “hotels.” Will Sitt keep ‘em and flip ‘em in 2010? In the vid, the Thor CEO describes 2010 as the magic year he’s been waiting for patiently.

The Grashorn, Coney Island's Oldest Building. Shuttered and Destined for Demolition. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Grashorn, Coney Island's Oldest Building. Destined for Demolition? April 18, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

As for “seeing some hotels come to that marketplace”… We’ve never heard anyone but Sitt refer to Coney as a marketplace. Thor Equities falsely advertised the flea fest as “the most thrilling open air market on the planet” and “a uniquely entertaining and amusing marketplace in Coney Island.” Instead it was a desecration of the C-7 amusement zone. This property is where amusements such as batting cages, go karts, bumper boats and mini golf thrived until Joe Sitt bulldozed them in 2007 to make way for “site preparation.”

Forget sharing. We recommend that Mayor Mike buy out Joe, no matter what it costs. The Mayor has spent $85 million to win a third term, he can afford to buy back Coney Island. If re-elected, Bloomberg is destined to go down in history as the Mayor Who Saved Coney Island or the Mayor Who Killed Coney Island by Letting Joe Sitt Get Away with Murder. As for Joe Sitt, we recommend that he take his own advice about the rebounding real estate market. At one point in the video he says “I think Brazil is the single biggest opportunity…” That’s great, Joe. Please move there. Permanently. Here’s an airline schedule. Adeus.

The Henderson Building: Thor Equities banner dwarfs Shoot out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Henderson Building: Thor Equities banner dwarfs Shoot out the Star. January 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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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?

June 4, 2009: Coney Island Ride Count: Veteran Ride Ops 40, Joe Sitt 10!

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Joey Sitt Plays with Bulldozers in His Coney Island Sandbox. Art by Tiny Tim

Joey Sitt Enjoys Playing with Bulldozers in His Coney Island Sandbox. Art by Tiny Tim

Some toddlers never grow up. Meet Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, largest landowner in Coney Island. After a City Council Subcommittee passed Mayor Bloomberg’s rezoning plan today, Sitt told the NY Post, “I’m the guy who controls this – it’s my sandbox.” He added that he would be willing “to share my sandbox with my friend Mayor Mike.”

Translation: Lawyers for Joe Sitt and the City’s Economic Development Corporation are wheeling and dealing behind closed doors. The deal is that Sitt would sell at least half of his Coney property to the City and keep the rest to develop or flip. With most favorable zoning of course!

Thanks to graphic artist Tiny Tim for sending us the photo collage of Joey demolishing Coney Island’s go-karts, batting cages, bumper boats, and mini golf. Creating empty lots in Coney is this CEO’s favorite outdoor activity. The Astrotower is still standing because Sitt said he “fell in love” with it and wants to keep it.

Hey, we love the Astrotower too. We also believe Coney Island is the People’s Sandbox, not Joe Sitt’s. Give it back to us, you bully.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 5 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Joe Sitt Scores Puff Piece in NY Times

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

June 4, 2009: Coney Island Ride Count: Veteran Ride Ops 40, Joe Sitt 10!

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Councilman Domenic Recchia & Borough President Marty Markowitz at Opening Night of Ringling Bros Circus in Coney Island. Photo by Pablo57 via flickr

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Councilman Domenic Recchia & Borough President Marty Markowitz at Opening Night of Ringling Bros Circus in Coney Island. Photo by Pablo57 via flickr

photo via pablo57, flickr

At Thursday’s dazzling opening night of the Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus, a cavalcade of politicians stepped into the ring with the performers in a Salute to Coney Island. Mayor Bloomberg, who was presented with a ringmaster’s top hat, remarked that he worked in “the Second Greatest Show on Earth”—politics.

The Mayor spent $84.5 million to win the last election. This time round aides say he plans to spend up to $100 million after successfully overturning the term limits. I’ve already received more than a dozen campaign calls and fliers. On opening night at the circus in Coney, I was surprised to see Boom A Ring Boulevard (21st Street) lined with electioneerers holding clipboards and campaign signs that read “Brooklyn for Bloomberg.” Inside the circus, my friend was stunned to encounter men in suits trying to hand out Mayor Mike brochures to people waiting to use the Port-O-Potties during intermission.

The Mayor and city officials deserve a standing ovation for bringing Ringling Bros. to Coney Island after the circus’s negotiations with greedy landlord Joe Sitt of Thor Equities fell through. But if the Mayor wants to win my vote, he must first Save Coney Island’s amusement zone from Joe Sitt’s desecration.

What about the $60 million difference between Sitt’s asking price and the City’s “final offer” for the People’s Playground? Bloomberg the philanthropist could chip in anonymously as he has done when giving $175 million intended for the City’s not-for-profits to the Carnegie Corporation. Or considering the city’s budget constraints, perhaps Bloomie could pay the entire $165 million and we’ll name a new roller coaster after him.

Electioneering at the Circus. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Electioneering at the Circus. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

What’s the advantage of re-electing a billionaire mayor who is the nation’s no. 1 philanthropist (donated $235 million in 2008) if he can’t save Coney Island from being gutted during his administration by a predatory real estate speculator?

Bloomberg the philanthropist told the NY Times, “As the economy took a turn from bad to worse, I felt it was the right time — the essential time — for someone like me, someone who’s been so fortunate in my own life, to step up and give back even more. I don’t think of it only as a responsibility, but as a privilege.”

Ask yourself this question: Is Coney Island better off or worse off since Bloomberg became Mayor? The Bloomberg administration started this Coney Island rezoning hoopla that triggered Joe Sitt’s destructive buying spree. The Mayor is obligated to set things right.

It’s time for Bloomberg the philanthropist to buy the People’s Playground and give it back to the People of New York!

Astroland Receives Last Rites. Savitri D,  Dick Zigun, and Reverend Billy put the developer in charge of this travesty on trial. Sept 7, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Astroland Receives Last Rites. Savitri D, Dick Zigun, and Reverend Billy put the developer in charge of this travesty on trial. Sept 7, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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