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Thor Equities abandoned flea market, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tents on Stillwell Ave, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

If you’ve been wondering what Joe Sitt of Thor Equities is doing with his vacant buildings and empty lots in Coney Island 2010, the answer is nothing yet. It’s disgraceful that Coney Island’s no. 1 real estate speculator is getting away with letting his tents from last year’s flopped Flea by the Sea deteriorate and become a public eyesore. The bedraggled tents are the first sight visitors see when they stroll down Stillwell Avenue, the gateway to Coney Island’s Beach and Boardwalk. How would “Joey Coney Island” like it if this mess was in his backyard instead of the People’s Playground? Tear ‘em down!

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Coney Island. April 19, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Coney Island. April 19, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island’s 40 rides and diverse attractions opened for the season on Palm Sunday and enjoyed the best Easter in decades. On the City-owned former Astroland site, Zamperla/CAI is working nearly around the clock to finish the new Luna Park in time for Memorial Day Weekend. If Sitt had sold the land to the City when the rezoning was passed in July, the park would probably be open now! With the return of Ringling Brothers Circus and the grand opening of Luna Park, Coney Island’s stakeholders are busy planning an exciting summer season. But Joe Sitt has yet to announce any tenants or plans for his Coney Island buildings or remaining Stillwell parcels.

Shoot out the Star in Thor-Owned Henderson Building, Bowery at Stillwell. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star in Thor-Owned Henderson Building, Bowery at Stillwell. April 19, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities huge “Store for Lease” banners on the Henderson Building and Shore Hotel continue to greet visitors when they exit Stillwell station. As for Thor’s vacant buildings, the Grashorn—Coney Island’s oldest building—and the former Bank of Coney Island—it’s deathwatch time. The Coney Island Rumor Mill is saying a demolition company was asked to give a quote for the takedown of the Grashorn and the Bank of Coney Island immediately as well as the Henderson Building and Shore Hotel by October. Popeye’s $120K per year lease of the corner store on the ground floor is said to be up this year.

Thor-Owned Henderson Building sits on a Parcel Rezoned for a High-Rise Hotel. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Thor-Owned Henderson Building sits on a Parcel Rezoned for a High-Rise Hotel. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Last July, the Bank of Coney and the Henderson parcels were rezoned for high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories. Though it’s unlikely a hotel will go up anytime soon, the speculation is that Sitt wants to get rid of the Grashorn and Henderson, which were nominated by Coney Island USA for landmark status, before the LPC calendars them or Save Coney Island’s plan for a historic district gathers steam.

Vacant on Surf Ave at Jones Walk: Thor-Owned Grashorn and Lambros Buildings. April 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Vacant on Surf Ave at Jones Walk: Thor-Owned Grashorn and Lambros Buildings. April 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Since Zamperla/CAI won the 10 year contract to build a new amusement park on the City owned land purchased from Sitt, a who’s who of amusement operators has enquired about leasing Sitt’s remaining parcels. But showmen are not marks. Sitt’s steep asking price—reportedly $300K-$500K– for each of his two 50,000 square foot Stillwell lots–has driven away top carnivals and amusement park operators who negotiated for yet failed to sign multi-year leases. Sources tell ATZ that onerous lease terms such as a 30-day vacate clause and having to pay all of the rent up front helped kill the deals.

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

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

Sideshow operator John Strong, who negotiated with Thor to bring his freak museum to the Grashorn Building, now says all deals are off since he can’t spend more in rent than he can take in at the ticket box. Strong believes he got outbid by a Russian who owns an arcade. But the supposed tenant, Sam’s Arcade from last year’s Dreamland, hasn’t signed the lease for Coney Island’s oldest building. What is Sitt’s game?

The Wall Street Journal recently had an article called “Empty Storefronts Blot Union Square Area”–San Francisco, not New York–with a quote from Joe Sitt, who is one of the property owners: “Mr. Sitt says he isn’t rushing to lock up a long-term lease before the market recovers. ‘I’m very willing to be patient,’ he says. While an empty storefront might not help in the short run, securing better tenants is a long-term boon for the neighborhood.” Ironically, another quote in the piece is “It’s like a major theme park losing its rides,” says Joe D’Alessandro, chief executive of the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, of Union Square’s store closings.

Funny thing is the quote could apply equally to the situation in Coney Island, though Sitt hasn’t had much to say about Coney since he sold 7 acres to the City in November 2009. At the time, Sitt told the Real Deal in a Q & A…

“We have to redo all of our plans, but we will still have millions and millions of square feet of apartments and hotels and retail and restaurants and enclosed amusements. Yes, it will still have the Las Vegas component to it. The latter versions of the renderings are close to what it will be.”

Oh, yeah, he forgot to mention the millions and millions of dollars he’ll make when he flippity-flips it.

Before Thor: Remember Batting Range and Go Kart City? April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Before Thor: Remember Batting Range and Go Kart City? April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In the meantime, a parade of people eager to do business in Coney Island continues to look at Thor’s Stillwell parcels. Last week, yet another amusement operator interested in a three-year lease for a go-kart track arrived on the scene. Rumor has it they’re set to sign a lease tomorrow. We’ll see. Our skeptical friends say that Sitt’s lots will remain empty this summer. We say it’s 37 days till Memorial Day Weekend and Sitt never had carnival rides up and running in “Dreamland” until then. In fact, bizarre rumors of Thor Equities producing entertainment in a Spiegeltent on one parcel and bringing their very own carnival to the other are circulating, too. What else can we say but this isn’t just any run-of-the-mill rumor mill, it’s in Coney Island, which thrives on the strange, the odd and the unpredictable.

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Related posts on ATZ…

June 7, 2010: Fence Wrap Advertising Comes to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue

April 29, 2010: Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall

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

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Thor Equities abandoned flea market on Stillwell Ave in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities abandoned flea market on Stillwell Ave in Coney Island. October 30, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One month ago, ATZ asked “What is Joe Sitt planning for Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island 2010?” Still no word on Stillwell from Thor Equities, though Coney Island’s 40-plus rides and diverse attractions will open in just 20 days. Palm Sunday– March 28th this year— is the traditional season opener in Coney Island.

The Cyclone roller coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, McCullough’s Kiddie Park and the Eldorado Bumper Cars are busy getting ready for the big day. In fact, the Eldorado as well as Paul’s Daughter, the Grill House and Gyro Corner on the Boardwalk were already open last weekend! Yet Thor Equities property on Stillwell, the gateway to Coney Island’s beach and Boardwalk, still looks like the ghost town of last summer’s failed flea market.

Here’s why: The Coney Island Rumor Mill says that Sitt is asking $500,000 for both sides of Stillwell and he wants all of the money up front!

According to sources, Sitt is not willing to negotiate on the amount either. This lack of flexibility doesn’t surprise us. Half a million is actually a 75 per cent reduction from Sitt’s original asking price! As ATZ reported last month, sources said several carnival and amusement park operators balked at Thor’s initial asking price, a cool $2 million for the two 50,000 square foot parcels.

New Sign on Stillwell. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

January 7, 2010: New Sign on Stillwell. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Some of the interested parties were contenders in the City’s RFP for a Coney Island Amusement Operator, which was won by Zamperla. The Coney hopefuls who put in bids for Thor’s parcels were said to be balking at the slew of onerous lease terms such as a 30-day-vacate clause. (“Coney Island: Amusement Operators Balk, Money Talks at Stillwell,” Feb. 10, 2010).

Negotiations continue for carnival rides and a go kart track though rumor has it that one of the potential amusement operators told Sitt’s agent where to take his lease and shove it. Good negotiating strategy or goodbye Coney Island?

When all is said and the deal is done, we may see Geren Rides back on Thor’s property for the third year in a row. The Georgia-based carnival operator did after all buy a Schwarzkopf Wildcat roller coaster, Reverchon Himalaya and other rides last year with the intention of coming back to Coney.

UPDATE  March 10…Sources say amusement operators from Wildwood, New Jersey, are close to signing a 5-year lease with Sitt for a go-kart track on one of his Stillwell parcels.  If they ink the deal and if CAI/Zamperla goes ahead with their plan for go-karts on the City’s Stillwell parcels in 2011, Coney Island will have duelling go karts on the site of the much missed Coney Island Batting Range and Go Kart City.  Why not bring back the Batting Range? As one of our friends says, “I still miss the batting cages. Without a doubt, they were the best in the entire city. Watching the balls fly off your bat with the Wonder Wheel in the distance was a thing of beauty.”

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Related posts on ATZ…

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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Good riddance to the tube socks, cellphone accessories, shoe stores and automative supplies of Thor’s Flea in-fest-ation of last summer! Welcome back amusement rides on Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue? We hope so….

New Sign on Stillwell. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

January 7, 2010: New Sign on Stillwell. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

On Thursday the Coney Island Rumor Mill was abuzz as new signage advertising the property “For Lease” was going up at Thor Equities flea market on Stillwell behind Nathan’s. Photographer and ATZ contributor Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 snapped a photo as dusk fell over the wind-ripped tenting that housed Joe Sitt’s flop of a flea last summer. “Maybe the second highest bidder for city land would be interested in this parcel,” Handy speculated. “Gets a lot of traffic from Nathans and the subway.”

Our guess is that several bidders, including the soon-to-be designated winner, have already made inquiries about leasing Thor’s Stillwell property. During the reply period for the City’s RFP for a Coney Island Amusement Operator to bring rides and attractions to land newly purchased from Joe Sitt, potential bidders asked the City about the adjacent vacant lots. The contact info for Thor Equities and Horace Bullard was posted on the City’s Q & A for all potential bidders to see.

NYCEDC map

Land for Lease by Thor Equities: The Stillwell parcels north of the city-owned Parcels B & C and south of the Bowery. Parcel A is the former Astroland, which is now owned by the City and was up for bid in the RFP. NYCEDC Map.

The timing of Thor’s signs couldn’t have been better. The short-listed respondents to the City’s RFP were reportedly in the City yesterday and today for meetings with the NYCEDC. If the bidders who didn’t make the short list have fire in their belly to come to Coney Island, now is the time for them to deal with Sitt or Bullard. Given Thor Equities’ history of sky-high rents and onerous lease terms, we think the parcels will go to the most highly motivated bidder.

We think the winner of the City’s 10-year lease on their newly acquired 6.9 acres will want to get control of all of Stillwell and keep other amusement operators from gaining a foothold in Coney Island. Joe Sitt sold approximately half of his Stillwell property to the City. But what good is half a sandwich? It’s not enough if you’re an amusement operator with ambitions of becoming the City’s single operator in Coney Island at the end of the 10-year lease.

At Thor Equities Flea by the Sea, Tons of Fun = Lots of Schlock. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Summer 2009: At Thor Equities Flea by the Sea, "Tons of Fun" = Lots of Schlock. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

A RECAP OF THOR’S UNAMUSING FLEA IN-FEST-ATION

After we reported “Memorial Day Weekend Mania: Thor Equities Coney Flea In-Fest-ation Is a Flop” (May 27, 2009), Thor brazenly went back to calling the so called fest “Flea by the Sea,” both on their website and ads. And why not? “Festival by the Sea” was indeed a flea market by the sea. Even though the permit was for a “temporary fair” because the original application for a flea market was disapproved by the DOB, the City did not enforce its own zoning against the illegal flea market in the amusement zone. “Tons of fun” it was not. A salsa band playing two sets on Saturday and Sunday was the sole entertainment at what was wrongfully billed as “A uniquely entertaining and amusing flea market in Coney Island.” We are not exaggerating. If you can stomach it, please view our complete flickr set of Thor Equities Flea Market.

We were not amused by auto supplies at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

May 31, 2009: We were not amused by auto supplies at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. In the background: Shuttered Balloon Racing Game in Thor-owned Henderson Bldg. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Yet we saw police towing away ice cream carts belonging to vendors who lacked licenses. The little guys get their businesses shut down while Thor gets this incubator project for his shopping mall. To people who say to us, the tents are pretty or it’s better than an empty lot, we say Thor Equities deliberately created the empty lots on Stillwell in 2007, when they evicted or bulldozed thriving amusements. Remember the batting cages, go karts, bumper boats, mini golf, and climbing wall? Let’s bring ‘em back to Coney Island in 2010.

Shoes Galore at Anchor Store # 7 at Joe Sitt's Flea by the Sea.vPhoto © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

July 12, 2009: Shoes Galore at Anchor Store # 7 at Joe Sitt's Flea by the Sea. 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

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

May 27, 2009: Memorial Day Weekend Mania: Thor Equities Coney Flea In-Fest-ation Is a Flop

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Thor Equities Festival by the Sea tent on west side of Stillwell Ave on Saturday afternoon. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Thor Equities Festival by the Sea tent on west side of Stillwell Ave on Saturday afternoon. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday morning, Thor Equities flea crew brought in a pump to remove the pool of rain water from the site on the east side of Stillwell where the tentless flea is held. The structure on the west side of Stillwell pictured above remained waterlogged. It is not being used since they don’t even have enough vendors to fill the spaces on the east side. The framework is still being reinforced to satisfy the DOB’s requirements and some of the tenting has been replaced. The tents have yet to get a C of O.

After the water was pumped out, vendors drawn to Thor’s flea by the steeply discounted rate of $20-$25 per space (plus the fee for tables and chairs) were able to set up their stands. A banner on the fence insists that the festival is “MUCH MUCH MORE THAN A FLEA MARKET.” Their caps, not mine. A more accurate statement would be IT’S NOT MUCH OF A FLEA MARKET AND IT DOESN’T BELONG IN CONEY ISLAND’S C-7 AMUSEMENT DISTRICT. My caps.

Tube sox at Thor Equities Uniquely Entertaining and Amusing Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Tube sox at Thor Equities "Uniquely Entertaining and Amusing Flea Market" in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

When I stopped by at sundown most of the vendors were packing up for the day. On the land where the Tornado Roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled (1941-1974), and Stauch’s Baths and Dance Hall (1930-1998) once stood, where the Bumper Boats, Go Karts, Climbing Wall, Batting Cages and Mini-Golf thrived until Joe Sitt bulldozed them in 2007, we now have tube sox, new and used clothing, and odds and ends like auto supplies, a water filtration system, a company that installs showers.

Packing up boxes of shoes at Thors flea market. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Packing up boxes of shoes at Thor's flea market. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

In the three visits that I have paid to the flea, I rarely see the same vendors twice. Perhaps that’s why the flea management is offering special deals like “bring a buddy as a vendor” to earn a free day for yourself. And “earn a free Friday when you purchase a Saturday and a Sunday for the same weekend.” One of my Coney friends said, “If the prices get any lower, Thor will be paying vendors to come.”

Wonder Wheel Weeps. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Wonder Wheel Weeps. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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

October 30, 2009: Video: Joe Sitt Talks Sharing his Coney Island Sandbox, Hotels & Brazil

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

May 27, 2009: Memorial Day Weekend Mania: Thor Equities Coney Flea In-Fest-ation Is a Flop

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June 4: In readiness for today's tent raising, the support structures for the Ringling Circus tent join the Parachute Jump on the Coney Island skyline. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

June 4: In readiness for today

photo via rbbbconeyisland, flickr

This morning in Coney Island, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus raised their tent for the upcoming Coney Island Boom-A-Ring Circus on a newly paved lot. Just a few blocks away Thor Equities still tentless flea market’s dirt lot was flooded. A notice on Thor’s Festival by the Sea website said “Closed Due to Bad Weather.” This is a tale of poor site prep and planning by Thor’s team vs. excellent site prep work and planning by the Ringling folks.

Since May 15 a construction crew has been at work on the Circus’s 21st Street site adjacent to the Childs Building on the Boardwalk. The dirt lot was blacktopped and floodlights were installed in preparation for Coney Island Boom-A-Ring’s June 18 opening night. The transformation of the empty lot is documented on Ringling’s flickr set called Renovating the Coney Island Boom A Ring Site. In April the Bay News reported that Taconic Investment Partners, the owner of the property, donated $100,000 toward site prep work as well as the use of the land rent-free.

As May turned to June, dirt turned to blacktop -- and lighting for the Ringling Circus site in Coney Island was being installed. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

As May turned to June, dirt turned to blacktop -- and lighting for the Ringling Circus site in Coney Island was being installed. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

photo via rbbbconeyisland, flickr

A press release from Feld Entertainment said:

Traveling nearly 3,500 miles from Mobile Stadiums, Ltd. in Sheffield, England, to Coney Island, the state-of-the-art air-conditioned main tent is approximately 28,842 sq. ft. and will seat 2,400 patrons for each performance. The foyer tent, which will house the food court, is approximately 8,625 sq. ft. Both will be the most visible cornerstones of Feld Entertainment’s major site renovation. Throughout the process, Feld has worked closely with lot owner Taconic Investment Partners, whose cooperation has been instrumental in bringing The Greatest Show On Earth to Coney Island.

Meanwhile a few blocks away in Sittland West (Joe Sitt’s property at Stillwell Ave & Bowery), Thor Equities flea market was closed today because the rock-strewn dirt lot is waterlogged due to the recent rain. Now that it’s a pool of water perhaps Joe Sitt should consider bringing back the Bumper Boats, which he evicted along with the other longtime amusements in 2007 to get an early start on “site prep work”. What site prep work? Pablo Jonsey posted pix and wrote on the Coney Island Message Board:

The site is now flooded with no drains for the rain water. The concrete footings have formed a huge bathtub, with no place for the water to go. The first thing Ringlings Circus group did, after paving the site with asphalt was to install drains connected to the NYC sewer system.

Sitt’s engineering company, which happens to be located in the same building I work in midtown, is a joke. They design the tent supports incorrectly and don’t even look for underground drainage.

Last month ATZ reported on the postponed grand opening of Thor’s tentless flea due to “threat of bad weather” and C of O problems. Last Sunday afternoon I strolled through Thor’s Festival by the Flea (not a typo) to find approximately 35 vendors displaying their wares under the tentless structure on the east side of Stillwell. The entertainment at Thor’s self-described “uniquely entertaining and amusing marketplace” consisted of a band and two Disney mascots. Is that all it takes to make the flea market legal in Coney’s C-7 amusement zone?

DVDS for sale at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

DVDS for sale at Thor Equities Flea Market in Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Many vendors were first-timers drawn by the steeply discounted fee of $25 per day. The regular fees listed on the festival’s website range from $100-$525 per day on a weekend. On a table at the entrance I picked up a flier offering a two-fer—-introduce a friend and get two spaces for $25. Tables and chairs cost extra. Wear rubber hip waders.

Thors poor site prep: The rock strewn dirt lot is hard on sandaled feet. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Thor's poor site prep: The rock strewn dirt lot is hard on sandaled feet. Photo by me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

June 7, 2009: Sundown at Thor’s Unamusing “Festival by the Sea” Flea

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Opening day at Thor Equities huge tentless structure on west side of Stillwell behind Nathans. An equally huge and empty structure stands on the east side of the street. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Opening day at Thor Equities huge tentless structure on west side of Stillwell behind Nathan's. An equally huge and empty structure stands on the east side of the street. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

Before I start my tirade against Joe Sitt’s Memorial Day desecration of Coney Island’s C-7 amusement district, if you’re wondering “Are the rides and games open at Coney?” the answer is YES! The REST of Coney Island–Boardwalk and beach, rides, games, sideshows, food, drinks– is alive and kickin’! Thor Equities does NOT own the entirety of Coney Island, though you’d never guess it from the Sitt-centric Festival by the Sea posters in the subway.

The May 15 grand opening of Joe Sitt’s flea market was postponed due to threat of bad weather on a sunny day, but on Memorial Day Weekend the rescheduled less than grand opening took place under the open sky. Last weekend’s “Closed due to threat of bad weather” sign was replaced by one that read “Pardon our Appearance while we adjust our tents.” Translation: The City’s DOB is requiring that the tents and structures be able to withstand hurricane force winds before issuing a C of O.

Pardon us until we get our C of O from the DOB. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Pardon us until we get our C of O from the DOB. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Despite Thor Equities much vaunted $250K advertising campaign with full-page ads in the New York Post, Time Out New York, AM New York, plus subway advertising and Google ads, vendors were sparse over the Memorial Day Weekend. On Friday, a couple dozen vendors set up in preassigned spaces and were scattered throughout the huge tentless structures on both sides of Stillwell. Most of the booths were selling clothes, new and used. Vendors specializing in auto supplies, housewares, Arbonne cosmetics, a water filtration system, Hawaiian noni juice and credit counseling also made an appearance over the three-day weekend. Here is my set of flickr pix of Thor’s attempted flea in-fest-ation of Coney Island.

Vendors at Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Vendors at Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Coney Island. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

Stands selling clothing and shoes were a reminder that Thor Equities pitch book unsuccessfullly used to lobby BP Markowitz for 10,000 square feet retail touted flagship retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap/Banana Republic, and DSW (“Thousands of shoes…prices you love”).

Shoes galore at Thor Equities flea market. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Shoes galore at Thor Equities flea market. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

One vendor told me she was given a free space on Friday to compensate for the time and trouble of having showed up last week for nothing. Several others said rent had been temporarily reduced from $100 a day to $20. Despite the bargain basement prices, many said they wouldn’t be back next weekend. On Saturday the flea management moved all of the vendors to the east side of Stillwell, leaving the tentless framework behind Nathan’s completely empty. On Surf Ave. I ran into a man and his son carrying a display rack with repros of his Coney themed artwork. Five dollars apiece. The man said he decided NOT to rent space at Thor’s festival after seeing the miserable setup. He also didn’t like the dirt ground of Sitt’s space. Instead he walked around Coney Island all day and was pleased to have exercised his first amendment rights by selling about $100 worth of his artwork without paying any rent.

Thor Equities idea of entertainment at the flea market was a band playing two sets.  Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Thor Equities idea of entertainment at the flea market was a band playing two sets. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The entertainment at Thor Equities self-described “uniquely entertaining and amusing marketplace in Coney Island” consisted of a band playing two sets. So I guess this makes the flea legal in the C-7 amusement district? Loophole in the law or flagrant violation? In March Joe Sitt’s newly registered to do biz in NY state Delaware LLC “Chart Development Company” successfully applied for a DOB permit for a “temporary fair” after an earlier app for a “flea market” was disapproved.

Tent-less structure on East side of Stillwell Avenue

Thor Equities Flea Fest on Opening Day. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

Thor Equities Flea Fest on Opening Day. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita

What used to be here? The Tornado Roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled (1941-1974), and Stauch’s Baths and Dance Hall (1930-1998). An aerial view of the amusement district looking west from the Astro Tower in the 1970s shows Stauch’s Baths, the Wonder Wheel, the Tornado and Thunderbolt roller coasters and the Bobsled ride. In recent years, popular amusements such as the Bumper Boats, Go Karts, Climbing Wall, Batting Cages and Mini-Golf thrived here. Visitors to Coney still ask what happened to them: Bulldozed in February 2007 by Joe Sitt who was eager to get an early start on “site prep work” though nothing could be built there until the rezoning was done. Site prep work = Deliberately created empty lots.

The Bumper Boats and other amusements thrived on this very location until Joe Sitt evicted them in 2007 to create his empty lots. Hooray for redevelopment!  Photo by the hanner via flickr

The Bumper Boats and other amusements thrived on this very location until Joe Sitt evicted them in 2007 to create his empty lots. Hooray for redevelopment! Photo by the hanner via flickr

photo via the hanner, flickr

Joe Sitt’s Memorial Day Weekend flea in-fest-ation is a desecration of Coney Island’s C-7 amusement zone! The rash of press releases from Thor Equities touting their so-called “Festival by the Sea” fails to mention that Joe Sitt created the empty lots where he put his flea market. That area was NOT rundown until Sitt emptied it out to blight the property in hope of getting it rezoned for big box retail and high rises. There were thriving amusements here when Joe Sitt bought this property from Hy Singer. He evicted the amusement operators and made empty lots. Sitt wants to erase those rides and attractions from our collective memory to make way for a tented shopping mall followed by a permanent shopping mall. Want your Bumper Boats, Go-Karts, and Batting Cages back? Here’s what you can do to Save Coney Island’s amusement zoning now!

Somebody please tell the city what is wrong with this picture.  Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Somebody please tell the City what is wrong with this picture. Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

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

June 7, 2009: Sundown at Thor’s Unamusing Festival by the Sea Flea

May 17, 2009: No C of O for Thor Equities Tents, Coney Flea Fest Postponed!

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On Friday afternoon I swung by Thor Equities’ Festival by the Sea site on Stillwell (Sittland West) to see what was going on. Not much.

Tourists stand in sunshine and snap photos of Thor's Coney Festival by the Sea Closed Due to Threat of Bad Weather Sign

Tourists stand in sunshine and snap photos of Thor's Festival by the Sea "Closed Due to Threat of Bad Weather" Sign

photo by Tricia Vita via me-myself-i, flickr

The Brooklyn Paper reported on Thursday that Joe Sitt’s flea market set to open on May 15 had suffered a setback. Instead of an indoor market, vendors would be “exposed to the elements due to a tent mishap.” But when I walked by there looking for a photo op, nothing was going on. There were no vendors. Instead I took pix of tourists taking pix of Thor’s vacant festival lot.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The Coney Island Rumor Mill had been sayin’ since last week that Thor Equities would postpone the much publicized grand opening of their Dreamland park, or is it their Festival, oh well whatever it is…for a week or two because the rides aren’t arriving in Dreamland and the Festival tents are the wrong tents and they have to be taken down!

Anon VIP Invite, including styrofoam straw hat, sits forlornly on chair, unused....Thor Equities Festival by the Sea Opening on May 15 and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on May 17... POSTPONED!

Anon VIP Invite, including styrofoam straw hat, sits forlornly on chair, unused....Thor Equities Festival by the Sea Opening on May 15 and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on May 17... POSTPONED!

photo by Tricia Vita via me-myself-i, flickr

When I went to the DOB website and clicked on the C of O Summary tab for Sitt’s permit for his “temporary fair,” it said in big red letters THIS JOB HAS NO C OF O APPLICATION ON FILE. A new building cannot be legally occupied until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued.

On Thursday workers removed the brightly striped roof and sidewalls leaving the structures open to the air. On Friday, Sitt employees wearing “Festival by the Sea” hats & T shirts were on site answering questions from visitors and potential vendors.

When I asked the employees what happened and when the festival would open I was told the following: The Festival by the Sea opening is postponed till next weekend (May 22) when it will be an open air flea market. Weather permitting, of course. The tenting material would not be replaced till the following weekend, May 29th, because the roof structure needed to be reinforced. A festival employee mentioned the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys practice tent in heavy winds earlier this month as a reason for the reinforcement.

According to the Rumor Mill, the DOB is requiring that the festival tents be able to withstand hurricane force winds. It’s a good thing too, if you look at the vid of the collapsed Dallas tent. Or if you look at some of the photos taken over the months of Thor’s collapsed construction fences.

Collapsed construction fences afford a view of Thor Equities vacant Stillwell property in Coney Island, New Years Day, 2009.

Collapsed construction fences afford a view of Thor Equities vacant Stillwell property in Coney Island, New Years Day, 2009. This is the site where the festival tents are set up.

photo by Tricia Vita via me-myself-i, flickr

It’s important to note that Thor Equities’ Festival by the Sea is not just a summer flea market. The festival website says they plan to be open through Christmas. The permit is valid till January, so the tents will be subject to windy, stormy, snowy weather. I don’t know if the city’s DOB revised the regulations for tents after the Dallas Cowboys tent accident or if the rules were already in place, but the Dallas tent collapse is the subject of a federal investigation.

The Coney Island Rumor Mill has also been speculating about the validity of the permit for a flea market disguised as a “temporary fair” in the C-7 amusement zone. It is distressing to see gi-normous enclosed structures for retail booths set up where amusements rightfully belong. The batting range, go karts, bumper boats, mini-golf and other popular amusement attractions thrived here before Joe Sitt bought the property and evicted them to deliberately create his empty lots.

My guess is the “Festival by the Sea marketplace” is an incubator project for Thor Equities proposed 10,000 square foot retail spaces in a rezoned Coney Island. Fortunately the City as well as Borough President Marty Markowitz said NO to big box style retail in Coney, yes to Mom & Pops in Coney. Now it’s up to City Planning and the City Council, which will hold a public hearing on the Coney Island rezoning this summer.

Thor Equities tent structure under construction. Shoot the Freak is visible at the far end along with the sign for the batting range which occupied the site along with other amusements until evicted by property owner Joe Sitt.

Thor Equities tent structure under construction. Shoot the Freak is visible at the far end along with the sign for the batting range which occupied the site along with other amusements until evicted by property owner Joe Sitt.

photo via me-myself-i, flickr

How did Sitt obtain the permit to make a flea market in the C-7? I’m guessing it’s some kind of loophole based on the fact that he says there will be some entertainment. Sitt’s agents advertised for variety acts and bands on craigslist. Thor Equities calls it a festival and brings in strolling entertainers as an amusement because their original application for a flea market was disapproved. If you look at the subway sign for the “festival” you’ll even see the phrase “uniquely entertaining and amusing” and a cartoon of a fire eater and a snake charmer. Oh, and there’s also a vendor selling lamps!

Some of Friday’s tourists weren’t sure what there was to do in Coney Island since they’d come here for the postponed Festival by The Sea. I told them there’s plenty to do! I sent them over to ride the Eldorado bumper cars, the Cyclone and McCullough’s kiddie rides.

McCulloughs Kiddie Park, Bowery and 12th Street

McCullough's Kiddie Park, Bowery and 12th Street

photo by Tricia Vita via me-myself-i, flickr

The kiddie park was especially busy on this weekday afternoon. I sent the tourists over to see Target the Cat, who was working the Basketball game on the Bowery, and Jimmy, who was running his Balloon Dart. Despite Thor Equities prediction of threat of bad weather, it was a sunny, delightful Friday in Coney Island’s C-7 amusement zone. Let’s keep it that way! As my friend Spidora says, “Carnival Stalls, Not Mega-Malls!”

Target, the Coney Island Arcade Cat, is the Official Mascot of the flickr group Coney Island is Alive and Kicking and Welcomes Visitors in 2009! Today he was working the basketball game on the Bowery! He also had fun playing with the toggle on my camera.

Target, the Coney Island Arcade Cat, is the Official Mascot of the flickr group Coney Island is Alive and Kicking and Welcomes Visitors in 2009!

photo by Tricia Vita via me-myself-i, flickr

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Related posts on ATZ...

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

November 23, 2009: The Contenders from A to Z: Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP

June 7, 2009: Sundown at Thor’s Unamusing Festival by the Sea Flea

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

May 27, 2009: Memorial Day Weekend Mania: Thor Equities Coney Flea In-Fest-ation Is a Flop

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