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Posts Tagged ‘Landmarks Preservation Commission’

Shore Theater for Sale. Dec 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Shore Theater for Sale. Dec 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Since the Shore Theater became an official New York City landmark last week, the “For Sale” banners on its scaffolding have beckoned. ATZ phoned the broker to ask a) the price and b) if we could get a peek inside. Hey, we’re curious. The Shore Theater was built at the same time as the Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel, yet it’s been dark for as long as we’ve been coming to Coney Island. The theater closed in the 1970s.

If buying the Shore and saving it from 35 years of neglect is on your Christmas Wish List, please be a millionaire. The building will cost you $12 million. Fillmore broker Lenny Libman says he has “a few prospective buyers” as well as businesses looking to lease the ground floor. He does not think the City will buy it. As for a peek inside, we’re still working on it. Libman says, “It would be taking your life into your own hands” due to the condition of the interior.

The building’s owner Horace Bullard wouldn’t allow anyone inside prior to the designation because he feared the building would be landmarked, says Libman. Even HBO’s hit show “Boardwalk Empire” has failed to get their foot in the door. Ironically the Shore Theater was landmarked anyway, though only the exterior was considered for designation at this time. Elisabeth de Bourbon of the Landmarks Preservation Commission told ATZ that by law the commission may consider only those buildings which are “customarily open to the public” for interior designation.

New York City has 110 buildings with landmarked interiors, including Grand Central Station and the lobbies of the Empire State and Woolworth Buildings, as well as such Broadway theaters as the Majestic, Martin Beck, Ambassador and Beacon.

Shore Theater for Sale. Dec 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Shore Theater for Sale. Dec 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 14, 2010: Amid Demolitions & Evictions in Coney Island, City Landmarks Shore Theater

December 13, 2010: R.I.P Coney Island’s Shore Hotel, Henderson Next on Hit List

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

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

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The Shore Theater, formerly the Loew's Coney Island, is up for City landmark designation. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loews Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On December 14, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will designate the Shore Theater an official New York City Landmark, according to the website of the Municipal Art Society. We applaud the landmarking, which is long overdue. The designation will help rescue the building, which has been vacant and neglected for 35 years. But the timing of the announcement, just as the demolitions and evictions of much of old Coney Island are in the news, including the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, strikes us as a little too coincidental. It’s as if the City is saying, hey look over here, we’re saving Coney Island!

Five years ago, the 1925 Shore Theater, formerly the Loew’s Coney Island, and five other historic buildings were nominated for New York City landmark designation by Coney Island USA. But the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission dragged its feet and would not calendar any of the buildings until February 2010, months after Coney Island had been rezoned. Of the nominated buildings, only two–the Childs Restaurant (owned by CIUSA) and the Shore Theater (owned by Horace Bullard)– were considered worthy of landmark designation. The Shore Hotel was demolished on Friday and the Henderson Building is next on Thor Equities hit list. The doomed buildings were on parcels rezoned for high rise hotels.

As for the Shore Theater, we would not be surprised if the City ended up acquiring the building. At the Community Board’s public hearing on the Coney Island rezoning, there was a proposal to revive the Shore as a community center. When the LPC held a public hearing on the landmark designation in March 2010, ATZ noted

The Shore’s history as a year-round entertainment venue fits in with the Bloomberg administration’s long-term plan to revitalize Coney Island as a year-round destination.

Sources tell ATZ that the City has been trying to buy Bullard’s Coney Island properties or negotiate a land swap. We have also heard rumors of a “blight” taking of the Shore Theater based on the fact that the property owner has done nothing with the building for 25 years. In fact, the Shore has been vacant for over 35 years! Bullard’s acrimonious relationship with the City dates back to the Giuliani administration, when the Mayor killed his plans to build a new Steeplechase Park and illegally demolished the Thunderbolt roller coaster.

The day before the LPC’s calendaring of the Shore Theater in February, Bullard was served with a violation from the Department of Buildings. The caps are the DOB’s: “FAILURE TO FILE AN ACCEPTABLE SIXTH ROUND TECHNICAL FACADE REPORT.” Cycle 6 ended February 20, 2010. Chunks of the facade are falling off.

If the building is landmarked, Demolition by Neglect laws could come into play. The New York City demolition by neglect ordinance states, “every [owner] of a landmark site or historic district shall keep in good repair (1) all of the exterior portions of such improvement and (2) all interior portions thereof which, if not so maintained, may cause or tend to cause the exterior portions of such improvement to deteriorate, decay or become damaged or otherwise to fell into a state of disrepair.” NEW YORK, N.Y., CODE § 25-311 (2001).

Last year, in a precedent setting lawsuit, the City was awarded $1.1 million in civil penalties and gave the owners of the landmarked Windermere apartments a choice of fixing the property or selling it. “This settlement sends a message to owners of landmarked buildings that they must keep them in a state of good repair,” said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a New York City Law Department press release about the case. “Buildings like the Windermere are an indispensable part of New York City’s architectural heritage and must be preserved for future generations.”

Coney Island Theatre Building.  Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

Coney Island Theatre Building. Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 13, 2010: R.I.P Coney Island’s Shore Hotel, Henderson Next on Hit List

November 24, 2010: Photo of the Day: R.I.P. Bank of Coney Island

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

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

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Call to Action: Rally for Preservation on Wednesday, May 12

WHEN: Wednesday, May 12th at 10am SHARP

WHERE: City Hall Steps – 4,5,6, N or R Trains to City Hall

Tomorrow morning, Save Coney Island joins the Historic Districts Council and other preservation groups at a citywide rally at City Hall.

“Save Coney Island believes this summer should be about REVITALIZATION (with the opening of the new Luna Park) and PRESERVATION – NOT about “DEMOLITION,” said an e-mail from the grass-roots group. “Please join us. This will be a perfect opportunity to put Coney Island’s preservation battle in the citywide spotlight. We need you to make your voice heard.”

ATZ is sorry that rumors of Joe Sitt’s plans to demolish historic buildings which we reported in “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010) have turned out to be true. On May 3, Thor Equities spokes-tool Loren Riegelhaupt told the Brooklyn Paper: “This summer is going to be about the demolition.” The reference is to the planned demo of four historic buildings in Coney Island owned by Joe Sitt.

Shore Hotel Nature's Paradise by the Sea. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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

The endangered buildings are the Grashorn, Coney Island’s oldest; the former Bank of Coney Island; the Henderson Building; and the Shore Hotel. The Grashorn and Henderson were nominated for landmark designation by Coney Island USA and all four buildings would be part of an historic district proposed by Save Coney Island. Stefan Friedman, another Thor spokes-tool, told the paper: “These buildings were thoroughly reviewed by the city [before] last year’s rezoning and determined to have no significant historic value whatsoever. Some of these buildings are asbestos-infested ramshackle buildings that pose a very real risk to the local community.”

We’ll counter Thor’s disinformation campaign by referring you to “Destined for Demolition? Historic Buildings Owned By Thor Equities” in the right column of our blog for articles by the Municipal Art Society, Vanishing New York and ATZ on the four buildings in question and Save Coney’s list of historic landmarks. As for Thor’s empty lots, check out “Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt”

The Historic Districts Council is hosting the rally…

We will be having speakers from neighborhoods across the city talking about their efforts and giving voice to the fact that people want preservation. For the past four years, HDC has helped organize a preservation day at City Hall that dozens of neighborhood preservationists have attended to show the strength of the preservation community. Through our efforts, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has grown in staff and has designated more properties in all five boroughs than ever – they designated more properties in 2008 than they had in any year since 1990. This record of accomplishment needs to continue; dozens of historic neighborhoods throughout New York City are still unprotected and prey to tear-downs and unregulated development. If we’ve learned one thing in 45 years of preservation practice in New York, it’s that landmark protection is good for the city. Without landmark protection, SoHo and Tribeca wouldn’t exist, the theater district would be an office park and Brooklyn Heights would be filled with high-rises. But as much as the LPC has accomplished, there’s still much more to do.

Coney Island’s Shore Theater and Coney Island USA’s Building (the former Childs Restaurant on Surf Avenue) are being considered for landmark designation by the LPC.

Thor-owned Henderson Building Being Cleaned Out, May 8, 2010. Photo © Capt. Nemo/Magical Theme Parks

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

April 29, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

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

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