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Posts Tagged ‘Jones Walk’

Dewey Albert Place and Milton Berger Place

Dewey Albert Place and Milton Berger Place, Surf Ave and W 10th St, Coney Island. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Have you ever looked up at the names immortalized on the street signs in front of the Cyclone roller coaster and wondered– who are Dewey Albert and Milton Berger? ATZ’s compendium of Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places, both official and unofficial, includes Coney Island luminaries of the past as well as the present-day paparazzi of People’s Playground Paparazzi Plaza. While there are no streets in Coney named after women, two powerful women in the Bloomberg administration had the rare honor of having new rides named after them.

Dewey Albert Place

Dewey Albert Place, Surf Ave and W 10th st, Coney Island. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Honorary street namings are sponsored by New York City Council members, voted upon by the Council and signed into law by the Mayor. “Proposed honorees must be individuals who are deceased and of significant importance to New York City,” according to the City Council. In June 1997, in recognition of the work and life of Dewey Albert, founder of Astroland, and in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Cyclone Roller Coaster, 10th Street between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk was named Dewey Albert Place.  (more…)

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Grashorn Building

Thor Equities Vacant & Shuttered Grashorn Building. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

For the past two weeks, the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been abuzz with the rumor that Thor Equities-owned Grashorn Building, Coney Island’s oldest structure, is set to be demolished. Though you’d never guess to look at it today, the building dates back to the 1880s and predates Coney’s first amusement parks, which were built in the 1890s.

We can’t confirm the rumor, there’s no demolition order for 1104 Surf on the DOB’s website. Thankfully. Not yet. But we’d be remiss not to mention it. In the past, there’s been a lag on updates to the DOB site when for example, Thor’s teardown of the Henderson Music Hall at the end of the 2010 season caught people by surprise as the asbestos abatement that preceded the demo got underway.

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

The Grashorn rumor started as Gameworld moved out of their Surf Avenue storefront, where the arcade had relocated the year after losing their spot in the then soon-to-be demolished Henderson Building. Known as Faber’s Fascination because of the vintage bare bulb sign from the earlier Fascination parlor, the Henderson arcade was one of the few businesses open year round in Coney Island’s amusement district. Not only are there no year-round arcades in Coney Island today, there are signs on Thor’s new building touting “ARCADE” where there is nothing but retail space for rent.

After auctioning off some of the Gameworld arcade machines, owner Carl Muraco moved the rest to a newly leased space on the Bowery. Owned by Jeff Persily, the location is next-door to the lot where Coney Island Arcade was before it burned down in 2010. Gameworld is expected to reopen next season.

Grashorn Rendering Save Coney Island

In June 2010, Save Coney Island’s rendering imagined what the Grashorn could become if it was preserved, restored and reused. Via SaveConeyIsland.net

The Jones Walk side of the Grashorn building has been vacant since 2008, as ATZ reported in “The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks.” In the summer of 2010, Save Coney Island published renderings showing the potential of the building if restored, but their plan to create a Coney Island Historic District along Surf Avenue was crushed by Sitt’s demolition of all but one of his historic buildings. Only the Grashorn remains.

Originally Henry Grashorn’s hardware store, the Grashorn building later housed shooting galleries, arcades, and cotton candy and taffy stands. Considered too “altered” to win landmark protection by the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the vacant, deteriorating building has been a victim of the continuing decimation of the amusement area by Thor CEO Joe Sitt. It may not survive in the New Coney Island. Demolition by neglect?

UPDATE December 9, 2013:

On Saturday, we were alarmed to receive a call about men in hazmat suits starting interior demolition on Thor Equities-owned Grashorn. Asked by a pedestrian if there was danger, a worker replied they were doing demolition. As it turns out, the demo crew was working next door to the Grashorn building where Henry Grashorn’s hardware store was in the 1880s. They are doing interior demo in the neighboring space that was G. Grashorn’s Groceries. The work continued through the weekend. There are no permits posted, nor are there any work permits on the DOB website for the buildings at 1102-1106 Surf Avenue. Anonymous tipsters sent us these photos:
“Thor’s Coney Island: Weekend Work for Hazmat Men,” ATZ, December 8, 2013

Grashorn Building

Grashorn Building, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. July 12, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

September 2, 2013: The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks

April 10, 2011: Men in Black 3 Rescues Coney Island’s Oldest Building

September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years

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Jones Walk

Long-shuttered storefronts on Thor Equities side of Jones Walk. Luna Park games on City-owned land on the Walk’s east side. June 21, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

With Mayor Bloomberg, Councilman Domenic Recchia and other electeds responsible for the rezoning of Coney Island leaving office in 120 days, and their would-be successors campaigning for the September 10th Primary, it’s time to look at the City’s accomplishments in Coney Island and what has yet to be done. The New Coney Island. We’ll also take a look at some of the casualties as well as some of the survivors of the July 2009 rezoning. ATZ hopes to cover these topics in a series of posts over the next couple of months.

Let’s start with the Surf Avenue side of Jones Walk, the last of Coney Island’s historic walks. Before Thor, it used to be a vibrant and authentic place, a midway of midways. Now “the Walk” looks like a victim of a split personality disorder. The City-owned east side of Jones Walk, re-activated by Luna Park with cute carnival games and a few food stands, and Thor Equities-owned west side, vacant since 2009, offers a stark contrast between Coney’s largest property owners. While the City has brought in replacement amusements, Thor–whose slogan for a time was “Coney Island, Retail Ride of a Lifetime”– has gotten rid of amusements.

Stinky Feet Water Race Game

Luna Park’s Stinky Feet Water Race Game, Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

You’d never know from looking at it, but the building on the west corner of the Walk is Coney Island’s oldest, the circa 1880s Grashorn Building. Originally Henry Grashorn’s hardware store, the building later housed shooting galleries, arcades, and cotton candy and taffy stands. Now it’s a victim of the continuing decimation of the amusement area by Thor CEO Joe Sitt. The Grashorn building fronts Surf Avenue and extends along the west side of the walk, yet this location has remained vacant and devoid of activity for five seasons. WHY? A business owner who had leased a small stand on the Walk from Thor in 2008 told us in 2009 that the rent had tripled from $8,000 to $24,000. He declined the space and left Coney Island, never to return.

Grashorn

Thor Equities Vacant & Shuttered Grashorn Building. August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Since then, the Grashorn has fallen victim to squatters, blight and burst water pipes. A parade of sideshow operators and arcade owners tried but failed to lease the Jones Walk space from Thor. The only use that it has seen since we started blogging in 2009 was as a set for HBO’s Bored to Death (2011) and an office for the production company filming Men in Black 3 (2012).

Meanwhile, on the east side of the walk are carnival games, including the comical “Stinky Feet” water race, newly installed this year by Luna Park on property leased by the City to Zamperla in 2012. The city displaced independent operators with an RFP for a single operator to renovate and re-activate the property. The result was a few unsavory operators got the boot while the good guys relocated to City-owned or private property elsewhere in Coney.

We’re lucky the Grashorn Building is still standing. Unlike the Bank of Coney Island, the Surf Hotel and the Henderson Building, which Sitt demolished, the Grashorn parcel at Surf Ave and Jones Walk was not rezoned by the City for a 30-story high rise hotel. There’s also the fact that the building is just a few doors away from Luna Park’s entrance. And there’s also the fact the City owns the east side of Jones Walk. The demolition of the Grashorn would have created a desolate empty lot right next to the City’s showcase amusement park and completely killed business on the Walk.

 New Games on Jones Walk

Luna Park’s New Games on Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In Coney Island: Lost and Found, historian Charles Denson writes that the building at 1104 Surf dates back to the 1880’s and the Grashorn hardware store served Coney Island’s amusement businesses for more than 60 years: “The clapboard façade, dormers, cast iron resting, chimneys and fish-scale shingles were removed when the building was renovated in the 1980s but the mansard roof retains its shape.”

What will be the fate of Coney Island’s historic Jones Walk and its oldest building under the next administration? Will Thor Equities’ property remain vacant? Will it be sold? Will Joe Sitt seek a zoning variance from the next administration for this property or for any of his vacant lots? To be continued…

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

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June 18, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Shoe Store Invades Amusement Area

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

October 7, 2012: ATZ’s Big Wish List for the New Coney Island

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

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A Winner Every Game

A Winner Every Game. Jones Walk, Coney Island. June 21, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On the way to Friday’s Parachute Jump Lighting, we cut through Jones Walk and came across these fashion plates playing the water race. “A winner every game, a prize every time!”

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June 13, 2013: Photo of the Day: Cat Rack on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue

June 3, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island’s Indie Game Operators

May 28, 2013: It’s Loo-ney: Bathroom-Themed Water Race Game Comes to Coney Island

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

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Stinky Feet Water Race Game

Luna Park’s Stinky Feet Water Race Game, Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

People walking along Surf Avenue near Luna Park are apt to do a double-take when they pass Jones Walk. Six toilet seats have been bolted into the pavement in front of the first concession booth! Insert joke about Coney Island’s new, very public restrooms here. The row of open-air loos could easily be mistaken for the real thing but the toilet lids don’t open. The new fixtures are part of Stinky Feet, a multi-target water-race game with guns that are replicas of bathtub faucets and seats that look like toilets. The game opened on Jones Walk over Memorial Day Weekend. Here’s a video that we made of the water race in action:

Manufactured by Whac-A-Mole creator Bob’s Space Racers, Stinky Feet has been a big hit at amusement parks since it debuted three years ago. The game is one of several family-friendly new games installed by Luna Park on the east side of Jones Walk, where last year’s attractions were destroyed by flood waters from Superstorm Sandy.

 New Games on Jones Walk

Luna Park’s New Games on Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 2, 2013: Shoot the Freak Reborn in Coney Island as Shoot the Clown

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

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Jones walk, Coney Island

Post-Sandy Renovation of Booths on Jones Walk, Coney Island. Coney Island. May 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island’s rides and Boardwalk businesses opened for the season on Palm Sunday, but new construction and post-Sandy renovations are still underway. In April’s photo album we focused on Steeplechase Pier, Steeplechase Plaza and the Boardwalk, and the Applebee’s on the north side of Surf Avenue. This month we’re looking at the south side of Surf Avenue and Jones Walk.

Last spring, the City leased the east side of Jones Walk to Luna Park, which installed a kid friendly Laser Maze and an interactive video booth. The corner stand, which used to house a water race game, was transformed into a face-painting concession. All were destroyed by Sandy. Last week the renovated booths were painted bright colors and prepped for new games to be run by Luna Park. Sources told ATZ that three adjacent booths were leased to food concessionaires including Italian, Mexican and ice cream.

On the section of Jones Walk operated by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the new game seen below was being built by Jimmy Balloons and friends next to his new dart game in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

Jones Walk, Coney Island

Construction of New Game on Jones Walk adjacent to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. May 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

There couldn’t be a greater contrast with Thor Equities property on the west side of Jones Walk, which has been shuttered since 2009. Back then, a business owner who had leased a small stand on the Walk from Thor in 2008 told us the rent had tripled from $8,000 to $24,000. He declined the space and left Coney Island. Known as the Grashorn Building after Henry Grashorn’s Hardware store, which was in business in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the building is Coney Island’s oldest though you’d never guess from its ugly siding. A few booths on the west side of the Walk adjacent to the Bowery are in a building owned by Jeff Persily and are expected to be leased this season.

Nathan's Original Location on Surf Avenue

Nathan’s Original Location on Surf Avenue, Coney Island. May 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Meanwhile on Surf Avenue, construction is underway at Coney Island USA’s first-floor theater, Freak Bar, and gift shop, which will officially reopen on Memorial Day Weekend while funds to put on the June 22nd Mermaid Parade are being raised on Kickstarter. Next door at the former Denny’s Ice Cream, also owned by CIUSA, a 1940s Mangels shooting gallery is being restored with the expectation of opening sometime in July.

Last week, Workers continued the gut rehab at Nathan’s Famous original location at Surf and Stillwell Avenues which officially reopens in time for Memorial Day Weekend after a soft opening on Monday. The interior as well as electrical and plumbing were ruined by the flood water and sewage that surged into the store during Superstorm Sandy. Nathan’s Boardwalk store has been open daily since March 23rd.

The original Lola Star Boutique on the Boardwalk is already open for business but her satellite shop in Stillwell Terminal was wrecked by Sandy. Renovations are underway at the tiny shop, which looks airy and festive in this photo. The store is being readied for a Memorial Day Weekend reopening.

Lola Star Boutique

Renovation at Lola Star Boutique in Stillwell Terminal. Boardwalk Shop Already Open Coney Island. May 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 24, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update

April 17, 2013: Sandy-Damaged Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Coney Island to Reopen in 2 Weeks

March 4, 2013: Nathan’s on Coney Island Boardwalk to Open Mid-March, Surf Ave by May

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Wizard of Oz arcade

Luna Park’s New Arcade on Surf Avenue. June 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

These photos taken over the weekend in Coney Island show what’s new since our last report (“New Club Atlantis, MegaWhirl Ride Open in Coney Island,” ATZ, June 25) as well as ongoing construction on Jones Walk and the Boardwalk. As previously reported, Luna Park’s new state-of-the-art arcade, which takes only Luna cards, opened on Surf Avenue in the former Astroland Arcade. There were too many people crowded out front on Mermaid Day to get a good shot of this fantabulous Wizard of Oz crane and claw machine. What a showpiece! Selling for $50,000, the new, movie-themed moneymaker from Belgian manufacturer Elaut is the first-ever automatic coin pusher and the highest priced arcade machine of its kind in the world.

Jones Walk Coney Island

Under Construction: East Side of Jones Walk. June 29, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The east side of Jones Walk was leased to Luna Park in the spring after the City evicted longtime tenants and issued a Request for Proposals. Word on the street is that the first new stand, a Laser Maze, is expected to debut on July 4, with the rest of the stalls ready to open by mid- to late July. Four of the stands are expected to be games operated by Zamperla and four were leased to subtenants for food and shops, according to sources.

Word also that Zito’s Sandwich Shoppe of Park Slope, which recently expanded to a second location in the North Slope, will not be coming to Coney Island’s Jones Walk as announced in April. That’s disappointing because we were looking forward to picnicking on the Boardwalk with their chicken parm.

ATZ phoned Zito’s Marcello Bucca for confirmation. “Word on the street is correct,” he said. “They were not ready for us.” He said that Zamperla received financing at the end of June, later than they expected, thus delaying construction. The rehabbed Jones Walk stalls were originally slated to open on Memorial Day. Asked if Zito’s Sandwich Shoppe planned to open a location in Coney Island next season, Marcello said he hoped so, because so many people have been calling to ask about the new Coney Island location. “Ideally we’ll see what opens up. Right now it’s a no-go for this year.”

Tom's Restaurant Coney Island

Under Construction: Tom’s Restaurant, Coney Island Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue. June 29, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The gut rehab by Tom’s Restaurant of Prospect Heights of the Boardwalk store at the corner of Stillwell Avenue is still underway. By the looks of the construction, it won’t be ready till late July, if then. The former location of Nathan’s and Cha Cha’s Club Atlantis (as well as the original Club Atlantis) required by far the most work and investment of any of the rehabbed Boardwalk stores. Due to structural issues, the place had to be completely gutted and rebuilt, including the roof and some of the brickwork. Windows were installed in the west wall. A new roof deck for alfresco dining will have spectacular views of the beach and boardwalk. When completed, Tom’s initially expects to remain open approximately nine months of the year.

Tom's Coney Island

Tom’s Restaurant’s Food Tent, Coney Island Boardwalk. June 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Since Memorial Day Weekend, Tom’s has had a tent set up on weekends in front of their future restaurant. You can buy Hot Dogs, Sausage and more adventurous fare like Shrimp Scampi and a Shrimp Chipotle Salad Sandwich, as well as cold drinks.

Across Stillwell Avenue, construction is also underway on Zamperla’s Place to Beach Bar, which is adjacent to Scream Zone’s new Sky Coaster and Go-Karts. The site is the former Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island.

Basketball Coney Island

Open for Business: Ray’s Basketball on Coney Island’s Bowery. June 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Yay for Ray’s Basketball on Coney Island’s Bowery! His concession stand is no longer “fenced off” and will be able to do biz on 4th of July. Ray finally managed to open on Friday for the first time this season after the chain link fence next to his awning was opened. City regulations had kept the fences closed, even after Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park opened last weekend. Note the portable fencing placed in front of the basketball game, probably as per the letter of the law.

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