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Posts Tagged ‘Taconic Investment Partners’

Surf Avenue

On the Market: Taconic’s former ‘Coney Island North Venture,’ vacant parcels of land on north side of Surf Ave. between W 16th and W 20th Streets

Last year, the landmark Childs Building on the Boardwalk and a neighboring lot zoned for condos became part of iStar Financial’s portfolio when Taconic Investment Partners, which acquired the properties in 2005, defaulted on loans. Now the other shoe has dropped. Taconic’s former “Coney Island North Venture,” three city blocks on the north side of Surf Avenue across from the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium totaling over 100,000 square feet of vacant land, is on the market.

ATZ learned of the offering from Coney Island broker Joe Vitacco. Neither Taconic nor iStar is mentioned in a two-page teaser for “Surf Avenue Assemblage: Prime Coney Island Mixed Use Development Opportunity.” Nor is the price. Interested persons are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the listing broker to find out additional info.

According to the brokers, R7-X and C2-4 zoning allows for approximately 380,426 buildable square feet as-of-right or up to 507,235 buildable square feet with inclusionary housing on 101,447 square feet of parcels. Combined Assessment/Taxes Due for 2013 and ’14 are $1,668,753/$185,488.

“Buyers can also explore a larger assemblage opportunity by incorporating adjacent sites currently owned by HPD,” says the flier. “Developers will also be able to take advantage of the property’s significant retail frontage. With few assemblages of this scale ever coming to market, the Surf Avenue Assemblage represents a unique opportunity to develop a project in one of New York City’s most dynamic submarkets.”

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering. CIDC Press Kit

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering Shows Residential Towers West and North of the Brooklyn Cyclones Stadium. CIDC Press Kit, 2009

Up until a few years ago when they fell silent, Taconic Investment Partners planned to build a glittering city of high-rise apartments and retail west and north of MCU Park. Their Senior VP of Acquisitions and his colleagues were a regular presence at hearings leading up to the Coney Island Rezoning of July 2009. According to Taconic’s website, the rezoning “significantly increased our buildable floor areas for mixed-use residential and retail projects to between 1.8 million and 2.4 million square feet, with the potential to create nearly 2,000 residential units and more than 200,000 square feet of retail space.”

The parcels between W 16th and W 20th Streets have been vacant since the wave of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, says Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, who grew up a few blocks away and documented the razing of the neighborhood in his photos. The RKO Tilyou, operated by the Tilyou family across the street from their Steeplechase Park on Surf at West 17th was demolished in 1973.

Coney Island North and South Venture

Rendering of Coney Island North and South Venture, Taconic Real Estate Investment Partners

Taconic’s plans for their “Coney Island North and South Venture” remain on their website. Only the players are changing.

As Taconic CEO William Bendit told Eliot Brown of the New York Observer in an interview in 2009: “What attracted us to Coney Island was the fact that it’s vacant land—we didn’t have to dispossess anybody, relocate anybody. And it’s the beachfront. How much beachfront land is there in New York City? Not only that, but beachfront land that’s accessible to the subway. So, if you think about it, how many young people, or anybody, for that matter, would like to commute into New York or Brooklyn, and go home at night and live on the beach?”

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The New Childs Restaurant

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

Earlier this week, NY1 reported the excellent news that the City plans to develop the former Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk and an adjacent lot into an entertainment complex. It will be the new home of Borough President Marty Markowitz’s popular Seaside Summer Concerts. First we felt surprise, since the building was not on the market, and then a mixture of elation and relief.

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.

Terra-cotta

Detail of terracotta ornamentation on Childs Building. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Luckily, the City has the funds to bring the building back to life since the Borough President will be able to use $50 million already set aside for a $64 million amphitheater in Seaside Park that was halted by a lawsuit. This is great news because if the money wasn’t spent by the time his third term ends in December 2013, it would go back into the public coffers and be lost to Coney Island.

Taconic Investment Partners, which owns approximately four blocks west and north of MCU Park, also holds a 99-year lease on the Childs building. The NY1 report didn’t say whether the City would acquire the lease from the development company or buy the building from the owner. Back in 2007, Brooklyn’s blogfather Bob Guskind described Taconic as “Coney Island’s Sleeper Megadeveloper” and it’s still an apt description. The developer began buying property in 2005 but has yet to develop anything in Coney Island.

“Taconic is in the process of evaluating the economics of a planned development for some or all of our holdings,” according to a web page about their “Coney Island, North and South Ventures.” That’s been the message for the longest time, probably because the economy and inadequate infrastructure put a dent in their plans. The 2009 rezoning allows Taconic to build nearly 2,000 residential units and more than 200,000 square feet of retail west and north of MCU. A restaurant and catering hall were part of the original plans for the Childs building. Dreamland Roller Rink operated rent-free for two years until 2010, when the high cost of insurance caused Taconic to shutter the space.

Dreamland Roller Rink

Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink. August 2, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

According to NY1, the lot west of the building will also be developed as part of the entertainment complex. The City-owned lot is the community garden pictured below. Right now it’s filled with tomatoes and sunflowers. Taconic owns the land east of the building, the former Washington Baths site. Thor Equities bought the vacant lot from Horace Bullard for $13 million and then flipped it to Taconic for an exorbitant $90 million because both parties were sure the City would rezone it for residential.

The Washington Baths site has been the temporary home of the Seaside Concert Series for the past two summers and for the Ringling Circus in 2009 and 2010. During the rest of the year, it is used as a school bus parking lot.

UPDATE September 26, 2013:

The City’s plan to convert the former restaurant into an amphitheater for live concerts is now working its way through City Planning and the City Council approval, though it was voted down by the community board. “Clock Ticking on Plan for the Landmark Childs Building,” ATZ, September 25, 2013.

community garden

Coney Island Community Garden adjacent to Childs Building. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Beachfront Condos

Beachfront Condos Under Construction on Boardwalk at 32nd St, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via Android

The first private beachfront condominiums to be built on the Coney Island Boardwalk are under construction at West 32nd Street and are expected to be completed this summer. The four-story building will have 11 units including 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, each with its own parking stall. Marina Krasnova of New Vision told ATZ that sales prices range from $685,000 for a one-bedroom to $1.55 million for the penthouse.

Located in the West End of Coney Island, across the street from the NYC Housing Authority’s Coney Island Houses, this new construction is a harbinger of more beachfront residential to come. The rezoning plan approved by the City Council in 2009 put 26 high rise residential towers and 5,000 new units of housing in Coney Island, including beachfront condos on Taconic Investment Partners 5.5 blocks of vacant land just west of MCU Park (West 20th Street).

We think it is the future beachfront residential, which Taconic has valued at $300-$900 per square foot, that is driving the City’s plan to gentrify the Boardwalk and make it into a year-round destination with upscale restaurants and bars.

Beachfront Condos Under Construction on Boardwalk at 32nd St, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, who grew up in Coney Island Houses, tells ATZ that the lot on West 32nd Street has been vacant since 1982. “It was the site of Sam’s Knishes and the Lincoln Baths,” said Denson, whose book Coney Island: Lost and Found combines a history of land use in his neighborhood and boyhood memoir. “Sam’s had the best cherry cheese knishes in the world and the Lincoln Baths go back over 110 years.” On the History Project’s blog “Ask Mr Coney Island,” Denson notes that the Lincoln Baths, along with the Washington Baths (W 21st St), Roosevelt Baths (W 30th St) and Jefferson Baths (W 33rd St) were Coney Island’s “presidential bathhouses.”

“The bathhouses were where people rented lockers and changed from street clothes to swim suits. You could also rent swimsuits and beach chairs and umbrellas,” writes Denson. “They were very social places and generations of families and friends from the same neighborhoods patronized the same bathhouses for years until the last one (Brighton Beach Baths) was demolished in the early 1990s.”

Coney Island Boardwalk

Coney Island Boardwalk east of West 33rd Street showing the Lincoln Baths in the foreground, 1924. Eugene L. Armbruster Collection, New York Public Library

How did it happen that land once occupied by bathhouses patronized by working class New Yorkers is destined to become luxury beachfront apartments? The Washington Baths site, which Thor Equities bought from Horace Bullard for $13 million, was flipped to Taconic for an exorbitant $90 million because both parties were sure the City would rezone it for residential.

Taconic Investment Partners plans to build a glittering city of 2,500 apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail west and north of MCU Park. According to Taconic’s website: “The North Venture consists of three city blocks on the North side of Surf Avenue totaling nearly 109,000 square feet. One block from the beach, these parcels include vacant or under-improved land. Coney Island South Venture encompasses 5.5 acres on the south side of Surf Avenue, interspersed over four blocks along the beachfront, and is also comprised of vacant or under-improved land totaling nearly 240,000 square feet.”

As Taconic CEO William Bendit told Eliot Brown of the New York Observer in an interview in 2009: “What attracted us to Coney Island was the fact that it’s vacant land—we didn’t have to dispossess anybody, relocate anybody. And it’s the beachfront. How much beachfront land is there in New York City? Not only that, but beachfront land that’s accessible to the subway. So, if you think about it, how many young people, or anybody, for that matter, would like to commute into New York or Brooklyn, and go home at night and live on the beach?”

What would it take to make you move to the new Coney Island?

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering. CIDC Press Kit

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering Shows Residential Towers West and North of MCU Park. CIDC Press Kit

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December 20, 2011: Update: Coney Island’s 1st Private Beachfront Condos on Boardwalk

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

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

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