Goodbye vacant lots–at least temporarily–hello Coney Art Walls! Thor Equities has recruited a dream team that includes Jeffrey Deitch, art advisor and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and food vendors from Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg to help activate one of their long vacant lots in Coney Island. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV), the consulting firm run by Bryant Park’s Dan Biederman, was hired by Thor to develop events and programming for and manage the lot. There will also be a music stage with live performances throughout the summer.
Smorgasburg Coney Island will have a dozen food vendors operating restaurants out of remodeled shipping containers and two bars serving craft beer, wine and other drinks. Smorgasburg launched in 2011 as a spin-off of Brooklyn Flea, the popular flea market founded by Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby.
“Coney Art Walls will be an outdoor museum, featuring the most innovative street artists from the 1970s to the present,” said Jeffrey Deitch. The art walls will showcase work by famous street artists including Crash, Lee Quinones, Futura, Kenny Scharf, Miss Van, Lady Pink and Swoon. Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. His signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on West 12th St was installed in 2012. For Powers, whose Dreamland Artists Club created signage for Coney Island businesses in 2004 and 2005, only a few of which remain, it marks a return to a landscape changed by real estate speculation, redevelopment and the rezoning of 2009.
“Coney Island visitors need more comfortable places to sit and relax, and we see demand for new activities and programs that will build on the neighborhood’s rich history, and strengthen its reputation as an attraction unlike anything else in New York,” said Ben Donsky, senior project manager at Biederman Redevelopment Ventures. “We are delighted to be part of this wonderful redevelopment program.” The consulting firm’s clients include Bryant Park, the Grand Central Partnership, Fanueil Hall Marketplace, and Rye Playland.
The vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s is bordered by West 15th Street and the west side of Stillwell Avenue. Thor’s Stillwell properties were once home to amusements galore including the Tornado roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled ride from the New York World’s Fair (1941-1974) and Norman Kaufman’s Batting Cage and Go Kart City, which was forced to close when Sitt bought the property in 2006. Rezoned by the City for retail and entertainment, the lots were used for flea markets in 2009, 2011 and 2012, but remained vacant last year as well as in 2010 and 2013, when the City issued a stop-work order on a permit for “temporary parking for the amusement district.”
Set to begin in May, Coney Art Walls is expected to run at least through September.
UPDATE May 6, 2015:
Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was hired by Thor to manage programming for two lots. What are they planning for Thor’s second long-vacant lot, on the east side of Stillwell, across the street from where Coney Walls will be? “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots.”
As for game trailers coming to the lot and kiosks for rent, as the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying: “There are no actual ‘kiosks’ in our plans on the east side of Stillwell, at least right now,” Donsky says. “But Gordon Lee (of the Eldorado) is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”
Related posts on ATZ…
October 28, 2013: Photo Album: Banksy Brings His Robot to Coney Island
February 16, 2013: Photo Album: Post-Sandy MERCY Graffiti in Coney Island