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Posts Tagged ‘Henderson Building’

View from DNALSI YENOC

April 22, 2013: View from DNALSI YENOC, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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.

DNALSI YENOC: View of Surf Ave from Stillwell Terminal

April 8, 2012: DNALSI YENOC: View of Thor’s New Building on Surf Ave from Stillwell Terminal. Photo © Tricia Vita

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.

May 28, 2012: Coney Island ‘Funny Face’ Mural on Thor Equities Building at Surf and Stillwell. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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?”

View of Henderson Building and Shore Hotel

July 12, 2009: View of Henderson Building and Shore Hotel, Demolished in 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

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.

Closed due to threat of bad weather on a sunny day.

May 15, 2009: Thor Equities flea market ‘Closed due to threat of bad weather’ on a sunny day. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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.

Shore Hotel Nature's Paradise by the Sea

April 26, 2009: Shore Hotel Nature’s Paradise by the Sea. Photo © Tricia Vita

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.

The Shore Hotel has closed down.

September 3, 2007: ATTENTION The Shore Hotel has closed down. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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.

Thor Equities phone number dwarfs Shoot out the Star

January 1, 2009: Thor Equities phone number dwarfs Shoot out the Star, Coney Island.

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 Equities Space for Lease

August 8, 2008: Thor Equities Space for Lease and ‘Future of Coney’ banners as backdrop for basketball joint on Surf Ave. Photo © Tricia Vita

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”?

The Future of Coney Island  Construction Banner

July 5, 2008: Thor Equities, The Future of Coney Island Construction Banner. Photo © Tricia Vita

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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?

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

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Rendering for 1218 Surf Ave, currently the Eldorado Bumper Cars, shows a new arcade and burger restaurant. Photo via Thor Equities Facebook Page

Long absent from social media channels, last week Thor Equities joined Facebook and Twitter. “Our FB page is up & running. We have begun featuring exclusive photos & descriptions of our properties. Take a look,” they tweeted. We did, and found that Thor “liked” Times Square, Central Park, a raft of real estate pages, and one that surprised us– Bikram Yoga — but has yet to “like” Coney Island or anybody in Brooklyn. Snub? Priorities? They’ll probably get around to it sooner or later.

Among the Brooklyn properties featured in Thor’s Facebook photo albums are two in Coney Island: The vacant new building at Surf and Stillwell Avenues and the Eldorado Building at 1218 Surf Avenue. Eldorado owners Sandy and Sheila Fitlin sold the building to Thor in March and the bumper cars and arcade are expected to close at the end of the season after a 40-year run.

Dennys and Eldorado

Thor Equities bought the Eldorado Building at 1218 Surf Avenue in March 2012. Its neighbor is Denny’s Ice Cream, owned by Coney Island USA. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When the Eldorado closes the Fitlins plan to take down the marquee and other signs, which were not part of the sale, they told ATZ. They hope to place the signage with a museum or collector. Knowing all of this did not lessen the shock and dismay of seeing Thor’s rendering for 1218 Surf with a “Joe’s Burgers” and generic arcade replacing the fabulous Eldorado Skooters facade and “Bump Your Ass Off” signage. If this is news to you, better run right over to the disco palace of bumper cars and bump, bump, bump for one last time this summer.

Along with the expected closure of McCullough’s Kiddie Park on the Bowery, whose lease with Thor ends this season, the closing of the Eldorado marks a critical point in the exit of independent amusement operators with a long history in Coney Island and the beginning of Thor’s “CONEY ISLAND – The RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME.” It started in 2007, with Thor’s eviction of Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City and the Zipper and Spider rides documented in Amy Nicholson’s upcoming film “Zipper.” It continued with the loss of games in the shuttered Grashorn Building and the demolished Henderson Building. The caption for the Eldorado property calls it “an unbeatable retail opportunity.”

On Thor’s Facebook page, the captions on the two Coney properties got reversed and what’s more the new building at Surf and Stillwell is misidentified idiotically referred to as the “Henderson Building.” The century-old music hall was demolished by Thor in 2010 despite preservationists’ best efforts to save it. The doomed Henderson along with the old Shore Hotel were on a parcel rezoned by the City in July 2009 for a high rise hotel. “Every one of these buildings is just horrible, rundown relics with nothing exciting about them. I hate to say it, but the great buildings of Coney Island disappeared 80 years ago,” Sitt told NY1 before demolishing the buildings.

Ironically, Sitt’s first new construction after years of real estate speculation in Coney Island is a suburban looking one-story structure that looks like a car dealership. We certainly hope it’s a typo that Thor is calling this vacant, boarded-up new building the Henderson Building! Why not call it the Thor Building? The question is what are Joe Sitt’s plans for Coney Island’s newest building at Surf and Stillwell, and Coney’s oldest building– the Grashorn — at Surf and Jones Walk? ATZ tweeted that question to @ThorEquities. Awaiting a reply.

Thor

Rendering of Thor Equities Building at Surf and Stillwell, Coney Island via Thor Equities Facebook

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 20, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

May 4, 2011: Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME”

December 27, 2010: Video: Tribute to the Henderson Theater by Charles Denson

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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New View

After the Demolition: New View of Surf Ave in Coney Island. February 11, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In the words of T.S. Eliot: “April is the cruellest month…” Last April, Joe Sitt of Thor Equities announced plans to demolish the buildings he owned along Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Now when visitors step out of Stillwell Terminal, their first glimpse of Coney Island will be the blue construction fence surrounding Joe Sitt’s Wasteland–the newest empty lot in the real-estate speculator’s collection of empty lots. The temporary one-story building that Sitt filed a variety of plans to build beginning in October has yet to break ground because the DOB “DISAPPROVED” the plans as many as 16 times over the past six months.

Surf and Stillwell was the site of the now-demolished, century-old Henderson Music Hall. The Henderson had survived being cut in half in the 1920s to make way for the widening of Stillwell Avenue. When the City rezoned the parcel for a high-rise “hotel” in July 2009, the historic building was doomed, even though no hotel is scheduled to be built there anytime soon. At the end of the 2010 season, longtime tenants Popeye’s Chicken, Fascination Arcade and Maritza’s Souvenirs were booted out and haven’t been heard from since.

Thor’s proposed construction is a “ONE STORY NEW COMMERCIAL BUILDING WITH ASSEMBLY AND AMUSEMENT SPACES AS INDICATED ON PLANS FILED HEREWITH.” If you look under “plan examination” you’ll see that they have filed for a variety of types of permits (equipment, new building, general construction, foundation & earthworks, fencing) with a corresponding number of disapprovals for each.

Coney Island

Post No Bills: Thor Equities Empty Lot at Corner of Surf & Stillwell, Coney Island. February 28, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

As shown under “all permits,” they have applied for and been issued permits for Foundations, Earthwork, and a Construction Fence in connection with the project. This will allow them to do the excavation and pour the foundations for the job, even while the New Building and other applications remain disapproved.

Last April, Thor Equities released a rendering of a cheesy looking temporary one-story building occupied by hamburger and taco food joints. And a statement: “With the work we are commencing today, by Memorial Day, 2011, all of our parcels along Surf Avenue are scheduled to be activated with family-friendly games, food, shopping and other activities that visitors to, and residents of, Coney are clamoring for….”

Thinkwell rendering

Thinkwell's rendering for Thor's Temporary One-Story Building in Coney Island. April 2010

When we first read about Thor’s plan and saw the rendering in Eliot Brown’s piece in the Observer–”The New Coney Island? Sitt Sees Fast Food in Place of Current Buildings”–we thought Thinkwell, a well-known firm in the themed entertainment industry, should be renamed Thinkworst for creating this crappy rendering for the gateway to Coney Island. Thor’s plan to get demo permits from the City seemed calculated to put an end to Save Coney Island’s efforts to create an historic district in Coney Island.

Coney Island

Joe Sitt's Newest Empty Lot (Site of Demolished Henderson Building), Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last April, ATZ complained about “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents and Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010). The bedraggled tenting was removed and the City put up fence wraps with colorful advertisements for Coney attractions to camouflage the empty lots. We’re curious to see what kind of bills if any will be posted on Thor’s blue construction fence. Posters for Aqueduct Flea by the Sea?

UPDATE April 4, 2011:

Some readers have questioned whether Thor Equities ever really intended to build anything on the site. Were the building plans just an excuse to get a permit to demolish the Henderson? Why didn’t Thor’s architects resubmit a plan that would win DOB approval? Six months of disapprovals seems like an inordinately long time.

ATZ asked someone in the building trade to take a look at the DOB page and give an opinion. Here it is: it IS strange that they had so many disapprovals for what seems like such a simple building, and i have to think that if they are proceeding with foundations, they either think they are about to get the new building application approved, or they are sensing some change in the regulatory environment and want to get the foundations in so that they can claim to be “vested”. who knows what that would be in this case, but does seem like a lot of trouble to go thru for a one story building (am sure they’re thinking the same thing).

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 20, 2010: Displaced Queens Flea Vendors Eye Coney Island’s Vacant Lots

September 24, 2010: Coney Island Cat Is Last Tenant of Henderson Building

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

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

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