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Posts Tagged ‘Jones Walk’

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


Related posts on ATZ…

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.


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


Related posts on ATZ…

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!”


Related posts on ATZ…

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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