Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Redevelopment’

Shoot out the Star--Players Wanted! Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star--Players Wanted! October 30, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Following the fortunes of Shoot out the Star on Stillwell Ave is one of my Coney Island obsessions. On Friday afternoon, the day before Halloween, I wasn’t surprised to see the metal gate rolled up and the shooting gallery open for business. CB, who runs the game for Slim, has been known to stay open long after Coney’s rides and most other games close around Columbus Day. On Friday he wasn’t looking any farther ahead than the next couple of days. We spent a good half hour cutting up jackpots about Coney Island present and future. Every time someone walked by, we’d stop talking and CB would call them in to play. “Shoot out the Star! $2.00 for 100 shots!”

Located in the Henderson Building on Stillwell across the street from Nathan’s, Shoot out the Star has a prime location. In the summer, people pour out of the subway terminal on the way to the beach and Boardwalk and many stop to play. At this time of year the stream of people has slowed to a trickle of tourists with cameras and Nathan’s coffee cups in hand. When nobody but nobody would stop to Shoot out the Star, ATZ chimed in: “This is the last game open in all of Coney Island! This is your very last chance to play!” We should add—last chance till Palm Sunday 2010, when Coney Island’s rides and attractions, including the Cyclone and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, reopen and the crowds return.

Coney ISland's Shoot out the Star, July 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island's Shoot out the Star, July 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star’s iconic signage is the work of Dreamland Artists Club founder Steve Powers, who also did the Cyclone seats and the Bump Your Ass Off signs on the Eldorado Bumper Cars and the delightfully quirky stairway at the Coney Island Museum. Last December, Thor Equities put up a huge “Space for Lease” banner on the Henderson Building that dwarfed Shoot out the Star. The banners went up on Thor’s properties throughout Coney Island days before Christmas, prompting the NY Post to call Sitt “the Grinch Who Stole Coney Island.” News quickly spread that Thor CEO Joe Sitt was asking triple the rent for the 2009 season. Thor’s henchmen accompanied the uniformed security guards who cut off the locks and put up no trespassing signs. They told the shooting gallery operator and the souvenir stand guy next door, who were still open, that they were “trespassing” and threw them out. Commenters on the Coney Island USA message board referred to it as “Eviction, Sitt Style.”

New Year's Day 2009: No Trespassing Signs on Shoot Out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

New Year's Day 2009: No Trespassing Signs on Shoot Out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star managed to reopen this summer, but its future is precarious. The Thor Equities-owned Henderson Building occupies a lot that has been rezoned for a high rise hotel. The “Space for Lease” banner still looms over Stillwell, a symbol of Thor’s power over Coney Island. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work a game a few blocks east on Jones Walk, which I like to call the midway of midways. Unlike the ever-changing traveling midways of my carny childhood, “the Walk” is a permanent part of the landscape, street sign and all. As someone who learned to call the people in working my parents’ games and later went on the road on my own, I have a deep attachment to the business. I worry about the future of independently operated games in the newly rezoned Coney Island.

Lettering on Thor Equities banner Dwarfs Shoot out the Star.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lettering on Thor Equities banner Dwarfs Shoot out the Star. January 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When talk turns to acreage for rides and amusements, I doubt anyone gives a thought to the water race games and the shooting galleries except the owners and operators of those games. Will midway games get squeezed out by retail, restaurants and hotels, with an token arcade thrown in to say hey, we got hundreds of games?

The City recently closed on the property on the east side of Jones Walk in a deal that was first announced in October 2008. The Economic Development Corporation’s original press release says, “Under the terms of the purchase agreement, the Ward family, the oldest, continuous landowner in Coney Island, has agreed to have NYCEDC acquire roughly one acre of land for $11 million.” Now the City is the new landlord of the game booths on the east side of the midway of midways. Will the operators, many of whom have been part of Coney Island for decades, be grandfathered in? Or will the have to jump through the hoops of the City’s bureaucracy to remain in the new Coney Island?

100 Shots $2.00. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

100 Shots $2.00. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star, Stillwell at the Bowery, Coney Island
If you come to Coney Island for a Nathan’s hot dog, a stroll along the Boardwalk or to see the Parachute Jump–Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, please support independent amusements by playing the only game you’re likely to find open this time of year: Shoot out the Star

Share

Read Full Post »

Father and Son on Way to Last Chance to Save Coney Rally at Borough Hall. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Father and Son on Way to Last Chance to Save Coney Rally at Borough Hall. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Before the Save Coney Rally got started we asked this little boy what he loved about Coney Island. “The up and down ride!” he said. “He means the Free Fall in Deno’s,” explained his Dad, who added that they missed Astroland’s Water Flume. The log flume, which was dismantled when Astroland closed in September 2008, was one of our faves too. All that’s left are souvenir photos and historic signage.

We’re glad the City Council amended the zoning plan to ensure that the Vourderis family will continue to own and operate Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. What about the rest of Coney Island? An amendment introduced by Councilman Tony Avella to expand the area for open-air amusements and restrict the height of the high rises on the south side of Surf was voted down. Save Coney Island is urging New Yorkers to phone their Council members to “fix the plan” before the full Council vote this Wednesday, July 29.

At today’s Last Chance to Save Coney Island rally on the steps of Borough Hall, Juan Rivero quoted some of the comments from the group’s petition drive. “When you’re asking a thousand people about Coney Island, you’re going to get a thousand different stories and a thousand different reasons why Coney Island must be preserved as an affordable amusement destination. Here are a few”:

Coney Island is the Grand Central Station and the Brooklyn Bridge of amusement parks in America—Alan Solomon

It was a wild carnival place but it has a rich history and it should be preserved and celebrated, not destroyed– Jacqueline Underwood

When our daughter was 2 years old in 1957 we brought her to Coney Island and we shall never forget her comment: “Everything I love is here.” –Rita Brettschneider

July 26 Last Chance to Save Coney Rally. Photo © jane_jacobs_saves_coney via flickr

July 26 Last Chance to Save Coney Rally. Photo © jane_jacobs_saves_coney via flickr

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

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

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

July 27, 2009: Tall, Skinny & Destined to Kill Coney Island: High Rises on South Side of Surf

July 19: Coney Island Hip-Hop Anthem: AMO1’s Fight for Your Right to Save Coney

July 9, 2009: Video: A Friendly but Urgent PSA from Coney Island’s ‘Mayor’

Read Full Post »

View of Surf Avenues Henderson Building and Shore Hotel from Stillwell Station. Owned by Thor Equities, these historic structures are  endangered by the city’s plan proposes four high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories along the south side of Surf Avenue. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

View of Surf Avenue's Henderson Building and Shore Hotel from Stillwell Station. Owned by Thor Equities, these historic structures are endangered by the city’s rezoning plan allowing four high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories along the south side of Surf Avenue. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

I’m happy to report the adorable-looking, headline-grabbing 5- legged puppy was “saved” from being sold to a Coney Island freak show. Now can we please grab your attention for a minute to Save Coney Island? The grassroots group Save Coney Island has called a rally on Sunday, July 26, at 1 p.m. in Columbus Park by the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island told ATZ:

With the City Council set to vote on the plan this coming Wednesday, this rally is the public’s last chance to make its voice heard.

We are calling for more acres to be devoted to outdoor amusements, for the removal of the four high-rise hotel towers proposed for the south side of Surf Avenue, and for the preservation of Coney Island’s historic buildings. We share the hope and expectation expressed at the land use committee hearing by Council members Recchia, Katz, and others that the City will address our concerns through negotiations before the full Council vote.

If you live in NYC please phone AND email your City Council member, Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg. Remember, they are running for re-election in November and want your vote. Do they want to go down in history as the city officials who KILLED CONEY ISLAND? Of course not!

To find your City Council member, type your address on the City’s Council’s info page.

If you do NOT live in NYC, please send a DON’T KILL CONEY email to Mayor Michael Bloomberg
email:http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html
or phone 311 (1- 212-NEWYORK outside of the city) and
leave a “Comment for the Mayor.”

Visit Save Coney Island’s website for more info.

As for the 5- legged puppy story, I was dismayed to see the LA Times story “Coney Island freak show owner vows to fight for ownership of 5 legged puppy” knock the HuffPost editorial “How Mayor Bloomberg is Killing Coney Island” from the #1 slot in a Google search of “Coney Island.” The puppy was a featured attraction in yesterday’s NY Times, NY Post, NY Daily News and amNew York, as well as papers as far away as Ethiopia and New Zealand.

I’m pretty sure Coney Island sideshow operator John Strong’s threat to sue the puppy’s owner and reattach the dog’s amputated fifth leg is a publicity stunt. I kinda liked his earlier, more philosophical comment “Sometimes, you just gotta say: ‘OK, I still have nine live, two-headed animals,’ and move on.” Yes, let’s move on to Save Coney Island. It may be our last chance.

rally

Share

Read Full Post »

Councilman Domenic Recchia Reading Save Coney Island Brochure at City Council Hearing.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Councilman Domenic Recchia Reading "Save Coney Island" Brochure at City Council Hearing. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

At the July 1 City Council hearing on the City’s rezoning plan, Coney Island’s Councilman Domenic Recchia took a moment to study Save Coney Island’s pitch. The brochure, which you can download here, urges people to contact their elected officials and ask them to fix the plan. Save Coney Island recommends expanding the area for open-air amusements, moving the high rises from the south side of Surf Avenue, landmarking Coney’s historic buildings, and protecting small businesses.

Will these proposals make it into the revised plan that a City Council subcommittee votes on next week prior to a full Council vote on July 29? No one from Save Coney can say with certainty. Although the group’s reps met with sympathetic council members, they’ve been unable to get face time with Speaker Christine Quinn or Land Use Chair Melinda Katz.

Says Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island, “There is no surer way to ensure that the outcome of a negotiation will not be to your liking than to fail to participate in the negotiations. And thus far, we haven’t been invited to the table.”

Among those who have been invited to the table are labor unions, affordable housing advocates and property owners, notably Thor Equities. ATZ is worried that the City, which failed to appease Thor with the current compromise plan, will come to an even worse compromise with Thor to pass the rezoning. For the past two summers we’ve been documenting the real estate speculator’s deliberate emptying out and desecration of the amusement zone in the flickr set “Thorland.”

Tables & chairs for Thor Equities flea market across the way from shuttered Balloon Race Game. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Tables & chairs for Thor Equities flea market across the way from shuttered Balloon Race Game in Thor-owned Henderson Building, Bowery at Stillwell in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

No matter how the zoning goes, if anyone is under the misimpression that Joe Sitt will ever build anything here, just Google “Albee Square Mall” and “Thor Equities” and read about how he flipped the property and made $100 million after getting favorable zoning from the City. Just imagine how many millions Joe Sitt expects to make from selling the rezoned Coney Island!

The City Council hearing on the Coney Island rezoning plan was my first time inside City Hall. During the eight hour long proceeding— my two-minute slot didn’t come up until seven hours had gone by— I had plenty of time to contemplate a ceiling medallion that says: “A Government Of the People, By the People, For the People—Lincoln.” Apparently I wasn’t the only visitor impressed by this tribute to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Someone mentioned it in his testimony. Councilman Tony Avella, Chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises replied, “I hate to tell you how many times we don’t do that, but hopefully we can do it in this situation.” We hope so too.

A Government of the People, By the People, For the People--Lincoln. Ceiling of City Council Hearing Room, City Hall, NYC. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

A Government of the People, By the People, For the People--Lincoln. Ceiling of City Council Hearing Room, City Hall, NYC. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Share

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 355 other followers

%d bloggers like this: