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Posts Tagged ‘Mayor Bloomberg’

B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

The large-scale neon letters spelling B & B CAROUSELL with a double L, of course, went up on the historic ride’s new pavilion on the Boardwalk today. Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project happened to be there to take this spectacular series of photographs. On Friday morning, the grand opening of Steeplechase Plaza and the return of the 1919 carousel to Coney Island will be celebrated by Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials, local residents and invited guests. The carousel was saved from the auction block in 2005, when the Mayor came to Coney Island for a hastily arranged press conference to announce the City would purchase the ride for $1.8 million.

B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

“Dozens of carousels have left Coney Island forever but the B&B Carousell is the only one to actually leave and come back,” said Denson, when the first restored horse was exhibited last May at the Coney Island History Project. B&B is short for Bishoff and Brienstein, who brought the carousel back home to Coney Island from New Jersey’s Bertrand Island in 1932. The frame was the work of Coney’s William F. Mangels Carousell Works and the carvings were done by Charles Carmel except for the lead horse by M.C. Illions. Jimmy McCullough and Mike Saltzstein owned and operated the ride since the 1970s. Welcome home to the B&B!

B&B Carousell Pavilion

B&B Carousell Pavilion. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

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May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

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

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

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Mayor Bloomberg in Coney Island

Mayor Mike Bloomberg and City Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr on the Coney Island Boardwalk. November 18, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Tom’s Restaurant, which “soft-opened” in late September on the Coney Island Boardwalk, miraculously escaped damage from Hurricane Sandy and is one of the few restaurants open in the neighborhood. This morning, owner Jimmy Kokotas welcomed Mayor Bloomberg and Coney Island City Councilman Domenic Recchia for a breakfast meeting with the Alliance for Coney Island and Community Board 13. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy was there and shared his set of photos via flickr. Seen in the photo below to the right of the Mayor are Dennis Vourderis, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park; Jimmy Kokotas, Tom’s Coney Island; Jon Dohlin, New York Aquarium and Judi Orlando, Astella Development. Nicole Robinson-Etienne, New York Aquarium and Valerio Ferrari and Alberto Zamperla, Luna Park, have their backs to the camera. The Mayor’s Office later tweeted: “Today the Mayor met with Coney Island small business owners to talk about rebuilding…”

Breakfast at Tom's

Breakfast Meeting at Tom’s Coney Island: Mayor Mike Bloomberg, City Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr with members of Alliance for Coney Island and Community Board 13, November 18, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

In the days after the storm, the newly formed Alliance launched the #ConeyRecovers initiative which has brought in hundreds of volunteers and dozens of partners to help with relief efforts in the community. Tom’s has been a hub of activity, serving as a command center for volunteers and a host for breakfast meetings about storm relief for local business owners. While the Boardwalk businesses were untouched by the storm and a few have managed to reopen, Ruby’s Bar does not have electricity and Paul’s Daughter and Lola Star Boutique lack meeting space. Though Tom’s opened near the end of the amusement park season, the restaurant is expected to initially remain open at least nine months of the year. If Tom’s hadn’t been here, the meetings of the past few weeks would have had to be held in another neighborhood since most of the other restaurants, from the original Nathan’s and Gargiulo’s to Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s, remain closed due to flood damage.

Tom's Coney Island

Breakfast Meeting at Tom’s Coney Island with Alliance for Coney Island and Community Board 13, November 18, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

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November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

October 29, 2012: Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island

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CLOSEd

CLOSED: Coney Island Souvenir Shop, 1987-2011. Its signs were put in the dumpster. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One of Coney Island’s oldest Mom & Pops quietly went out of business after losing their lease due to Zamperla USA’s redevelopment of the City-owned Boardwalk. Coney Island Souvenir Shop, located next to Ruby’s Bar on the Boardwalk, was started 25 years ago by Tommy Suh. After he died last year, his wife Sue and their son Rob carried on the family business.

Last week in Coney Island, work crews were busy cleaning out whatever had been left behind by the evicted Boardwalk shops. It was sad to see the familiar red-and-white sign from the Souvenir Shop about to be rolled into a dumpster. A second sign was already inside, its yellow lettering peering over the top. For as long as we’ve been coming to Coney Island, the Suh family has been rolling these signs in and out of the shop at the beginning and end of the business day.

Mrs. Suh in her family's souvenir shop on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Mrs. Suh in her family's souvenir shop on the Boardwalk in happier days. April 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Compared to Ruby’s or Paul’s Daughter, the closing of Coney Island Souvenir and the other small businesses on the Boardwalk attracted very little media attention. In Bloomberg’s New York City, seeing a shuttered store where a longtime business was yesterday is so common that it’s not newsworthy unless the place is a local legend or the last of its kind. Even the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which has paid tribute to hundreds of vanished places since 2007 couldn’t possibly cover them all. After looking up VNY’s first year-end tally– “Combined, we’ve seen close to 1,000 years of New York history vanish in 2007″– we didn’t have the fortitude to continue the count.

Last November, when the Boardwalk Mom and Pops were fighting their eviction, we first came across this 2009 article on the web: “New York Closes Shop” by small business advocate Stephen Null. It contains some stunning statistics on the number of small businesses that have closed during the Bloomberg administration:

A reliable way to evaluate the stability of New York City’s small business community is to examine the number of Commercial Warrants for Eviction. The majority of these warrants are issued to “holdover commercial tenants” whose leases have expired, and who can’t afford to pay the new, higher rent. The consensus of business organizations is that these warrants represent about one third of small businesses; the ones that stay and fight in court. The other two-thirds walk away without a fight.During what many consider the reign of terror for small businesses — 1986-1989, the last 4 years of Koch’s term — 17,433 warrants were issued to evict small businesses, out of approximately 53,000 total small business failures. During the last full four years under Bloomberg, 2005-2008, 27,809 warrants were issued to evict, with about 83,000 small businesses forced to close. Since the successful businessman Bloomberg took office, around 152,964 small businesses have been forced to go out of business.

Keep in mind Null’s article was published in August 2009 and the stats do not cover the last three years of the Bloomberg administration. Is anyone still keeping track? To these statistics, we add six of the original Coney Island 8: Coney Island Souvenir Shop, Steve’s Grill House, Beer Island, Shoot the Freak, Cha Cha’s and Gyro Corner Clam Bar.

Zamperla’s policy of squeezing out Boardwalk businesses through evictions and offering ridiculously expensive lease deals is counter to the Coney Island Development Corporation’s mission of encouraging the development and retention of existing businesses. If the Coney Island 8 hadn’t fought in court and won a one-year reprieve, it’s very likely we’d have a shuttered Boardwalk and a Miami restaurateur would be bankrupt. The CI8 did the City and Zamperla a favor.

Now let’s see if Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter can afford to sign those leases that they were offered more than one month ago by CAI, operator of Zamperla’s Luna Park. Sources tell ATZ that negotiations were extended another two weeks. Nobody wants to see the last of the Boardwalk Mom & Pops join the sad statistics of small businesses forced to close during the Bloomberg administration.

souvenir shop

Closed: Coney Island Souvenir Shop, 1987-2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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November 13, 2011: The End of Paul’s Daughter As We Know It–Will They Return?

October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk

March 3, 2011: The Lowdown on Sodexo’s Sweet Deal in Coney Island

November 1, 2010: Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back

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ATZ obtained a copy of the cruel kiss-off letter sent by the City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to the Coney Island Boardwalk businesses on October 25th. The City’s lease with the businesses was set to expire just a few days later on the 31st. “Please be advised that effective as of the date of this letter, the NYCEDC (“Licensor”) has assigned its interest as Licensor under your license for the premises to Central Amusement International.”

It appears to be a slick legal maneuver by the City to abdicate responsibility for the November 1st eviction of these Mom and Pops from City-owned property by CAI, which the City certainly must have known about in advance. CAI’s Luna Park is a public-private partnership and everything of importance is done in consultation with the City. The letter is signed by John Cicerello, Executive Vice President of EDC’s Assets Management, which “manages, maintains and leases over 20 million square feet of City property assets with the goal of maximizing return on assets.”

The kiss-off letter begins “Dear Sir or Madam”– the same salutation as CAI’s October 29th surrender the premises letter– which ATZ previously posted. We have to wonder if both letters were drafted by the NYCEDC attorneys or is this type of letter always so generic and coldly impersonal?

The letter states that as of the date of this letter “any and all matters regarding your License and the Premises should be addressed with Central Amusement International.” Any license fees and charges. Any notices, inquiries, requests. Any anything. In other words, the City’s done with you, Sir or Madam. Don’t call us, blame us, bother us, ask us for support.

After the Boardwalk businesses received the eviction letters on November 1st, City officials–both elected and appointed–tried to distance themselves by referring all questions to the amusement operator. Officials told the business owners it was Zamperla’s decision and there was nothing they could do. The businesses, which had been expecting responses to their business plans, were shocked and dismayed to receive eviction notices instead.

In advance of an eviction hearing scheduled for January 10, both sides are expected to get together for talks today. Will there be an out of court settlement? At a previous hearing on December 10, NYCEDC attorneys and a representative of the asset management department were present along with Valerio Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla USA and Central Amusement International.

Paul's Daughter

Last Day at Paul's Daughter. Coney Island Boardwalk. November 13, 2010. © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Coney Island Eight’s new website asks “Who is behind the eviction of the Coney Island 8″? Their answer is that the City made the decision as to who was going to be on the boardwalk long before any proposals were submitted.

It has been reported that Central Amusements was responsible for the ousting of the Coney Island Boardwalk Businesses. This is not true. The City of New York under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg are the primary developers of Coney Island. This became evident in meetings with Central Amusements when their top Management explained to the Boardwalk vendors that Mayor Bloomberg met with them and told them that he wanted the Boardwalk to have a fresh look. It was two days before the renewal of leases the owners of the land turned all the leases over to Central Amusements to give the impression that Central Amusements made this decision.

Save ruby's

Save Ruby's 'Axis of Evil' Protest Sign. January 1, 2011. Photo © Rubyshost via flickr

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December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk

November 10, 2010: This Week in Coney Island: Party at Paul’s Daughter, Hypocrisy at NYCEDC

November 1, 2010: Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back

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Shoot The Freak.  Dec. 22, 2010.  Photo ©  Rubys Host via flickr

Shoot The Freak. Dec. 22, 2010. Photo © Rubys Host via flickr

If you were hoping to take one last souvenir photo in front of Shoot the Freak on New Year’s Day, fuhgeddaboutit. This afternoon, construction workers boarded up the front of the vacant lot where the famed Coney Island paintball game has been played since 2002. Central Amusement International/Zamperla has a DOB permit for “the installation of temporary fencing and site preparation.” Workers told the photographer: “It’s the new entrance to one of the roller coasters coming into Scream Zone for 2011.”

“The back wall/fences are now gone and the stuff inside removed, but that’s it,” said Rubyshost in an email. “They were bringing in new material for fencing, poles etc – part of the wall was open so I could see the entire back.”

Shoot the Freak is one of the eight Boardwalk businesses being evicted by CAI, which has leased the property from the City. The Coney Island 8’s court date was postponed till January 10, 2011

When news of the Boardwalk evictions broke in November, New York Magazine chimed in with “Let Us Now Mourn the Loss of Coney Island’s ‘Shoot the Freak’” to remind us that city planning commissioner Amanda Burden once assured New York that she “loved” and “would vote for” Shoot the Freak. That was back in 2007. No love now! Here’s the vid of the Mayor, Burden and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff answering a reporter’s question about the future of Shoot the Freak and other Coney Island attractions. The videographer is the late Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge. Bob would have appreciated the irony of this video showing up three years later in a post about the demise of Shoot the Freak.

UPDATE… December 23, 2010…11:00 pm

This afternoon, “The Coney Island 8″ issued a press statement on the shuttering of Shoot the Freak. It says in part: “We are angered and saddened that, just a few days before Christmas, one of our businesses, ‘Shoot the Freak,’ has had its entrances illegally boarded up and all of its property removed. This was done without the knowledge of the owner Anthony Berlingieri.” The businesses, which are fighting their eviction in court, also launched a new website to tell their story and ask New Yorkers to call the Mayor’s office in support of the Coney Island 8. The url is www.coneyisland8.com.

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December 5, 2010: Bitter Week Ahead: Coney Island 8 Summoned to Court, Shore & Henderson Demo

November 21, 2010: Goodbye (Or Maybe Not?) to My Coney Island Equivalent of Proust’s Madeleine

November 1, 2010: Out With the Old in Coney Island: Only 2 of 11 Boardwalk Businesses Invited Back

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

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