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Posts Tagged ‘flea market’

The Landmark Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk

The Landmark Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The landmark Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk, which has been in use since January as the Childs Warehouse, a multi-agency program for organizations that need space for Sandy recovery projects, will host a pop-up market this summer. Called the Coney Flea, the seasonal market will operate from mid-June through October, with proceeds to fund post-Sandy recovery programs, according to the organizer’s website.

Rotating spaces with dimensions starting at 8 x 10 feet are being offered to local and regional vendors at weekly, monthly and seasonal rates. The market is expected to be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Vendors can apply online at coneyflea.com:

Vendor spaces range from $120/day to $200/day. Please mention if you are a Coney Island establishment and include details in the form below, and we can offer you a discount. One of the main purposes to opening the market this season is to help bring life back to Coney Island, and create space for businesses, artists and vendors who have not been able to reopen after Hurricane Sandy. We’re opening too, and just cleaned out our 63,000 square foot site. We know it takes a community to recover, and we’re grateful to be part of the recovery process.

Detail of Landmark Childs Building

Detail of Landmark Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

“It’s a very special place,” said Dan Compitello of the 1923 Spanish Colonial Revival style building, which was designated a City landmark in 2003. He is overseeing the Coney Flea with a team that he says has a combined total of over 42 years of flea market management experience. Food vendors and arts and crafts vendors from the tri-state area have already reserved spaces, Compitello added. Our impression from talking with him is that Coney Flea will be an artsy, curated marketplace that will activate a landmark and give visitors a reason to stroll westward along the Boardwalk past the new Steeplechase Plaza.

That’s a plus, because despite the fact that Coney Flea is for a good cause we’re not sold on the idea that what Coney Island needs is another flea market. In 2009 and 2011, Thor Equities staged a “Festival by the Sea” of vendors selling tube socks, cellphone accessories, shoes, automotive supplies and cleaning products on lots where amusement rides had previously thrived. Just looking at photos of these previous Coney flea markets induces post-traumatic stress order. There was a smaller, more attractive group of vendors on Stillwell Avenue last year, a dress rehearsal for Joe Sitt’s “Retail Ride of a Lifetime.”

iStar Financial and Stone Harbour Management donate the Child’s Building in-kind to the Childs Warehouse with free rent, utilities and building maintenance. Additional sponsors of the Childs Warehouse are the Mayors Office of Community Affairs, the Brooklyn Long Term Recovery Group, and the Staten Island Long Term Recovery Group. Partners are Transform-US, Occupy Sandy, New York Disaster Interfaith Services, World Cares Center, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and Resurrection Brooklyn Relief.

Originally built as a Childs Restaurant, one of the country’s first national chains with more than 100 locations in 33 cities, the terracotta palace is set to be restored and developed into an amphitheater and restaurant by 2015. In past years, the building was used as a candy factory beginning in the 1950s and Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink in 2008 and 2009. Today, tourists routinely ask what are “those ruins” on the Boardwalk?

UPDATE September 26, 2013:

Summer is officially over and the flea market never opened. As a commenter said from the get-go: “Word on the street, this project is dead in the water.” Whether the flea market was doomed by permitting issues or complaints to the DOB about the stability of the building is unknown. After Sandy, parts of the facade cracked and began falling off. A sidewalk shed was installed this summer. Childs Warehouse did not reply to queries and their website is currently down.

The City’s plan to convert the former restaurant into an amphitheater for live concerts is now working its way through City Planning and the City Council approval, though it was voted down by the community board. “Clock Ticking on Plan for the Landmark Childs Building,” ATZ, September 25, 2013.

The New Childs Restaurant

The New Childs Restaurant on the Riegelmann Boardwalk, August 1924. Eugene L. Armbruster Collection, New York Public Library

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Related posts on ATZ…

January 24, 2013: Occupy Sandy’s New Warehouse in Coney Island Landmark

August 24, 2012: New Life for Coney Island’s Terracotta Palace by the Sea

May 16, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Make Dismal Debut

Janaury 8, 2010: Coney Island 2010: Good Riddance to Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Hello Rides?

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Amusement Park Opening Soon

Steeplechase the Fun Place Amusement Park Opening Soon. Photo © Jim McDonnell. All rights Reserved

On Sunday, a sign appeared on the fence at the Thor Equities lot on Stillwell Avenue leased to the BK Festival announcing the opening of “Steeplechase Amusement Park.” We’ve known for several weeks that rides and amusements were planned for the former flea market this summer, but details were pending.

Will McCarthy, event director of the BK festival, tells ATZ that the flea market didn’t mesh with the Coney Island location and this season the BK Festival will bring in rides and amusements in addition to a smaller number of vendors. The flea market is expected to continue until the rides debut in May. Among the old school carnival flat rides confirmed for the event are a Himalaya, Ring of Fire, Trabant and Cakewalk. There will be also be a climbing wall, McCarthy said. Additional rides and amusements will be announced soon. The BK Festival’s partners went to the carnival convention in Gibsonton, Florida, last month to recruit ride operators for Coney Island.

Why did they choose the name Steeplechase Park? “We want to bring back a lot of things that used to be on the property,” says McCarthy. “It’s a tribute to Steeplechase Park.”

sign

Steeplechase Park Sign Already Defaced. © Magical Theme Parks. All Rights Reserved

And why not? Coney Island’s three grand amusement parks of the early 20th century were Steeplechase, Dreamland and Luna Park, and the names of the last two are already taken. When Joe Sitt brought carnivals to his property in the summers leading up to the 2009 rezoning, he called it Dreamland Amusement Park. Zamperla named their park after Thompson and Dundy’s Luna Park. Although the new parks bear very little resemblance to the originals, the familiar names evoke memories and exert a powerful pull. We’re just happy the BK Festival, which has a three-year lease, will not be a flea market this summer. We wish them well. Evidently one person wasn’t thrilled with this iteration of the Funny Face. The sign, which has a couple of unfortunate misspellings, was almost immediately defaced.

The park will be the third Steeplechase. In 1967, Norman Kaufman leased part of the Tilyou’s Steeplechase site from Fred Trump and called his park Steeplechase Park, according to Charles Denson’s Coney Island: Lost and Found. The Jumbo Jet, Cortina, Bumper Cars, Go Karts, Batting Cages and a Miniature Golf Course were among Kaufman’s attractions over the years. Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City was on this piece of land until he was evicted by Thor Equities in 2007.

Club Atlantis

Cha Cha's Club Atlantis Opening Soon. Photo © Magical Theme Parks. All Rights Reserved

Another sign on the fence announced “Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis Opening Soon,” setting the stage for two clubs with the same name. Cha Cha, one of the Coney Island 8 evicted from the Boardwalk by Zamperla, is opening a restaurant on Surf Avenue as well as a reincarnation of his Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis. His former Boardwalk location, which will become Tom’s Restaurant, was the site of the original Club Atlantis. Across the way, the former Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island are set to become Zamperla’s Club Atlantis. Last month, Zamperla CEO Valerio Ferrari told the NY Post that a new beach bar called Club Atlantis would offer beer, wine and dancing.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 2, 2012: BK Festival’s 1st Amusement Rides Arrive in Coney Island

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

May 16, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Make Dismal Debut

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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The BK Festival featuring displaced Aqueduct flea market vendors opened for the first time on Saturday in Coney Island. The new flea market is located on Thor Equities Stillwell property adjacent to Scream Zone and Nathan’s, site of Thor’s Flea by the Sea in 2009. Check out our flickr slide show. We took pix of everything that was there, to be fair and square. Unfortunately the opening day event was dismal. It was not in any way “like a state fair,” as hyped by the BK Festival management in advertisements, nor did it feature “upscale product,” as hyped by the New York Times in a puff piece on Joe Sitt. Not surprised. Just sayin’.

Like Thor’s “Festival by the Sea,” the new flea market bills itself as a festival because a flea market is not a permitted use on this property in Coney Island. In response to ATZ’s query last month about the zoning, Purnima Kapur, Brooklyn City Planning Director, wrote in an email: “The C7 zoning district in Coney Island does not permit Flea Markets as a permitted use; however small scale retail and restaurants are permitted in addition to amusements.” There are Use Groups A, B and C, with A being for Amusements, and a formula for their allocation.

flea market

The BK Festival brings Aqueduct Flea Vendors in Coney Island. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

As we’ve said before, it’s a little tricky to figure out how “OVER 100,000 SQUARE FEET OF SHOPPERS DELIGHT!” is permitted when Sitt failed to win 10,000 square foot retail and the City’s own zoning says “Use Group C [Retail] uses shall be limited to 2,500 square feet of floor area and 30 feet of street frontage, except that on corner lots one street frontage may extend up to 100 feet.” Of course the city has long failed to enforce its own zoning. The furniture stores on the north side of Surf have continued to exist for years in defiance of the amusement zoning. The only example of a flea market in Coney Island being closed that we’re aware of is when Mayor Giuliani shut down the flea on the north side of Surf prior to the opening of his new ballpark in 2000.

Cooking spices, cleaning products, car mats, and tools looked incongruous in the amusement area. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Saturday’s rainy forecast kept some of the Aqueduct vendors away, yet the locations were said to be completely booked for the season. Assigned numbers were painted on the blacktop. It was depressing to see miscellaneous items arrayed in rows of cardboard boxes–tape measures, sharpies, notebooks, cleaning brushes, sandals, toys, balls, what have you. It was a typical market, with signs advertising prices starting at $1. Or 3 for $5.

Booths selling household cleaning products, personal care products, tools, automotive accessories and cooking spices looked incongruous in the amusement area. It felt jarring to see the new Soarin’ Eagle roller coaster against a backdrop of signage advertising “Dresses For Less.” There were just a few vendors with what might be called “upscale product” displayed to advantage–snazzy belt buckles, some lovely clothing near the front of the flea market, and a booth with strollers, skateboards and kids toys. We found one item that we liked and purchased it for $10.

flea market

One of the best looking booths featured strollers, skateboards & kidz toys. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The majority of space is taken up by flea market vendors, so it’s reasonable to say this event is indeed a flea market and not “like a state fair.’ The amusements consisted of a pony ride, a very small petting zoo, one inflatable bounce for kids (a second one was deflated), and two mimes. The Coney Island Dancers, who had brought in their sound system and were playing music, said they had been hired by the BK Festival. A few people were dancing on the sidewalk.

petting zoo

BK Festival's amusements include a small petting zoo and a pony ride. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

According to the Coney Island Rumor Mill, the BK Festival’s contract with Thor precludes them from bringing in mechanical amusement rides. It wouldn’t surprise me at all, considering that Sitt first evicted Norman Kaufman’s amusements from the property in 2006 and has failed to lease to several different carnivals and amusement operators who have tried to negotiate deals. As we wrote in Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME” (ATZ, May 4), we believe that the flea market or “shopping experience” is part of a strategy to win a variance for 10,000 square foot retail from the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals in a future administration. Having rides wouldn’t help that plan at all.

Why does the City allow Thor Equities to put flea markets that are festivals in name only on precious pieces of property in the C-7 amusement zone where the Tornado and Bobsled Coasters once thrilled? And not just once, but twice. It calls to mind the adage “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.”

flea market

BK Festival on the west side of Stillwell. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 5, 2012: Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello “Steeplechase Park”

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

March 29, 2011: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Close to Deal in Coney Island

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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