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Posts Tagged ‘New York City Landmark’

Parachute Jump Xmas Lights

Happy Holiday Message on Parachute Jump Lights. Photo © Jim McDonnell

If you want to see Christmas lights, the #1 place to go in the country is the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights, according to a survey published today by MSN. Coney Island’s amusement area doesn’t have a tradition of Christmas lights since the parks are closed for the winter, but two of its official New York City landmarks are lit for the holidays and free to view.

While the lighted cross atop Deno’s Wonder Wheel has a 68-year history, the Parachute Jump’s light show is brand-new. The Jump’s dazzling 8,000 LEDs debuted in June and have been specially programmed with a “Happy Holidays” message and Christmas-y colors by Luna Park.

Currently, the Jump is lit from around 4:30pm until midnight, and sometimes later. Originally built for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, the Parachute Jump operated as a ride in Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park until 1964. Today the landmark is known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam to be sure the Jump is lit before you go.

Wonder Wheel Xmas Cross

The annual tradition of putting a lighted cross atop the Wonder Wheel during the Christmas season began in 1945 to mark the end of World War II and the troops return home. During the war years, Coney Island was dark after sundown because of “dim-out” and “blackout” regulations to protect shipping from being silhouetted for the enemy by the glare from the shore. The new LED cross was made by DJ Vourderis, whose family has owned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for 30 years.

Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company, the Wheel is in operation from Palm Sunday through October. Its cars are removed for the winter and put back up in the spring prior to Opening Day. From the 1980s until neighboring Astroland Park closed in 2008, the Wonder Wheel’s Christmas cross had a counterpart in the Astrotower’s lighted Star of David.

In this lyrical video by Jim McDonnell, who also took the beautiful photos in this post, you can see the cross being raised on Friday when warm temps finally melted the ice on the Wheel, allowing it to be turned. The cross remains atop the Wheel until around January 6.

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

March 19, 2013: First Sign of Spring in Coney: Cars Go up on Wonder Wheel

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk

Photographer and Model in front of Landmark Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk. September 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The fate of the landmark Childs Building on the Boardwalk is in limbo as Brooklyn’s Community Board 13 voted 15-7, with 7 abstentions, against the City’s plan to convert the former restaurant into an amphitheater for live concerts. Noise, traffic, parking and infrastructure issues were some of the reasons cited for the “no” votes. In public testimony at Monday night’s meeting, some residents of Coney Island said the plan was rushed, they needed to hear more about it. Others brought up the idea of a Community Benefits Agreement. Community garden advocates protested the loss and relocation of the Boardwalk garden adjacent to the building, which has been active since 1998 and has between 35-50 gardeners.

Boardwalk Community Garden

Community Garden on the Boardwalk adjacent to the Childs Building. September 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The problem is with less than 100 days left in this administration, time is running out to use the funds allocated for the project. If some kind of compromise plan isn’t worked out, the chance to restore and repurpose the vacant building could be lost. The City has the funds to bring the landmark back to life since Borough President Marty Markowitz will be able to use $50 million set aside in 2010 for a $64 million amphitheater in Seaside Park that was halted by a lawsuit. Since then, his free Seaside Concerts have been held on the Washington Baths site, a vacant lot across the street from the Childs Building.

If the $50 million isn’t spent by the time the Borough President’s third term ends on December 31, 2013, it would go back into the public coffers and be lost to Coney Island. The building’s deteriorating condition is also cause for concern. After Sandy, parts of the facade cracked and began falling off. The sidewalk shed was installed this summer.

Childs Building Coney Island

Landmark Childs Building on the Coney Island Boardwalk. September 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Community Board’s vote is advisory only. Their recommendation is being forwarded to the City Planning Department and the Borough President’s Office, which may amend the proposal before sending it the City Council. It is customary for the Council to vote with the council member from the district. In 2011, when the community board voted 21 to 7 against the Parks Department’s plan to make a section of the Boardwalk concrete and plastic, the City pressed forward with the plan and won the necessary approval of the Public Design Commission, which is comprised of Mayoral appointees.

Dreamland Roller Rink

In 2008 and 2009, the Childs Building was used as Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink. August 2, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The City’s plan to develop the former Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk and adjacent lot into an entertainment complex with a rooftop restaurant was first reported by NY1 in August 2012 but detailed plans were not made public until April of this year. The property and surrounding lots zoned for high rise condos became part of the portfolio of iStar Financial when Taconic Investment Partners defaulted on loans. The developer plans to sell the building to the City and partner with nonprofit Coney Island USA to manage the programming.

As we noted last summer, it’s been sad to see Coney Island’s terracotta palace by the sea boarded up for the past few years after being enlivened by the Mermaid Parade Ball and Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink. Yet it’s hard to pass by without taking photos of its ornamental ships, seashells, fish and King Neptunes. When a tourist recently tweeted a photo describing the Childs as “the ruins,” we didn’t have the heart to respond. The 1923 Spanish Colonial Revival style building was designated a City landmark in 2003.

UPDATE December 20, 2013:

The City Council approved the development of the Seaside Park and Community Art Center, an entertainment complex and public park at the site of the Childs Restaurant Building. The approval by the City Council was part of a public review process that also involved approvals by the City Planning Commission, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Public Design Commission.

The project will be developed and operated by a partnership between an affiliate of Coney Island Holdings LLC, and non-profit Coney Island USA, Inc., with $53 Million in city capital funds to develop the project, which involves the restoration and adaptive reuse of the Childs building as well as the development of a 5,100 seat amphitheater with a neighborhood park and playground overlooking Coney Island beachfront. Completion of the project is slated for June 2015.

UPDATE October 21, 2013:

There’s a public hearing on Wednesday, October 23rd, at 10:00 AM in Spector Hall, at the Department of City Planning (22 Reade Street, in Manhattan) to receive comments related to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Seaside Park and Community Arts Center project. According to the posted notice:

Comments are requested on the DEIS and will be accepted until 5:00p.m. on Monday, November 4, 2013. The Applicant, Coney Island Holdings LLC, is proposing a number of land use actions to facilitate the development of the Seaside Park and Community Arts Center (the “proposed project”) in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn. The proposed project involves the development of approximately 2.41-acres of publicly accessible open space, which would include an approximately 5,100-seat seasonal amphitheater for concerts and other events. The proposed project also includes the landmarked (Former) Childs Restaurant Building, which would be restored for reuse as a restaurant and banquet facility and renovated for adaptive reuse to provide the stage area for the open-air concert venue and use as an indoor entertainment venue during the off-season months. The Seaside Park and Community Arts Center would be a temporary use of the development site for a term of ten years from completion of construction.

The New Childs Restaurant

The New Childs Restaurant on the Riegelmann Boardwalk, August 1924. Eugene L. Armbruster Collection, New York Public Library

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January 24, 2013: Occupy Sandy’s New Warehouse in Coney Island Landmark

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

August 24, 2012: New Life for Coney Island’s Terracotta Palace by the Sea

August 1, 2012: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Sunflower

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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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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

Five years ago, the 1925 Shore Theater, formerly the Loew’s Coney Island, was nominated for New York City landmark designation by Coney Island USA. On Tuesday, February 9, at 9:35 a.m., the long vacant building owned by Horace Bullard is expected to be put on the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s calendar for a public hearing. This is the first step in the landmark designation process.

If you wish to attend Tuesday’s public meeting, don’t be late because the calendaring is expected to take a mere five minutes! The Shore is on the schedule from 9:35-9:40 a.m. Sources say the LPC staff will present a PowerPoint on the building’s history and then there might be a brief discussion among the commissioners. They are likely to vote to calendar the building.

The public hearing is typically scheduled one to six months after the calendaring. According to the Commission’s FAQs about the designation process, the public will get to have their say at the public hearing and may submit written statements at that time.

Much has been written about the Shore Theater in recent months. Vanishing New York’s photo essay on the theater’s history and probable future and “The Shore Theater: A Sure Part of Coney Island’s Future?” by the Municipal Art Society‘s Melissa Baldock are required reading.

Baldock says the Shore represents the optimism for the future of Coney Island at the dawn of the “Nickel Empire” and is one of Coney Island’s most striking buildings: “Its theater sat nearly 2,400 people, and above the theater were several stories of office space intended for the entertainment industry, which the developers hoped would flourish in Coney Island.”

We hope the building can be renovated and restored so that art and entertainment will again flourish in this once grand movie and vaudeville venue. Although the calendering does not list the building’s interior, we’re told the LPC may consider the interior at a later date.

The Shore Theater is also the first of six Coney Island buildings nominated for landmark designation by Coney Island USA. The others are Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island USA Building (former Childs Building), the Grashorn Building (Coney Island’s oldest), the Henderson Building, and the building that housed the B & B Carousell. Coney Island’s four designated City landmarks are the Cyclone Roller Coaster, the Wonder Wheel, the Parachute Jump and the Childs Building on the Boardwalk.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is located on the 9th Floor of the Municipal Building at the corner of Centre Street and Chambers Street, across from City Hall, in Manhattan. More information, including a link to a form to nominate a building for landmark status, is available on the LPC’s website.

UPDATE FEB. 9, 5:30 pm…The Municipal Art Society reports that this morning the LPC voted unanimously to calendar the exterior of the Shore Theater, including the rear portion of the building (shown in photo.) Says MAS, “The next step in the landmarking process will be a public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. We encourage the public to voice their support for the designation of the entire Shore Theater building at this hearing or through sending letters and emails. The final designation steps will be the Commission’s vote, followed by a City Council vote.” Courier Life’s Joe Maniscalco reports that the public hearing date for the Shore theater designation has been set for March 23 and the calendaring of the Coney Island USA Building on February 16.

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

January 11, 2010: Steeplechase Pool, Zip Coaster Sites to Be De-Mapped for Housing

December 18, 2009: Ciao Coney Island! Will Ruby’s, Shoot the Freak, Astrotower & Other Oldies Survive?

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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