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Posts Tagged ‘Thor Equities’

Thor's Coney Island

Thor’s Coney Island: Aerial view of vacant lots on south side of the Bowery between W 12th and W 15th where amusements once thrived. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Today brought a new twist to the November rumor that an amusement park is coming to one of Thor Equities’ CEO Joe Sitt’s vacant lots in 2015. The latest from the Coney Island Rumor Mill is that there will be no rides (insert unhappy face emoticon) but about 20 trailers with games, food and merchandise. If true, the games would fulfill the “Use Group A” amusement component required by the zoning.

The location is in the heart of Coney Island adjacent to Luna Park’s Scream Zone and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. In recent years, this lot on the Bowery between Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street has hosted failed flea markets and made a mockery of the rezoning in 2009 and 2011. “Festival by the Sea” and the “BK Festival” were granted City permits as a “temporary fair” because a flea market is not a permitted use on this property in Coney Island. A color coded map on Thor Equities’ website currently designates it as “Future Retailer/Entertainment Spaces.”

As a critic of flea markets on land where the Tornado roller coaster (1927-1977) and the Bobsled (1941-1974) once thrilled, we were happy to see the BK Festival and Thor Equities bring in rides, games and sideshows in 2012. Why not do it again?

MegaWhirl in Coney Island

Abandoned MegaWhirl Ride on Thor’s lot in Coney Island. November 11, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Despite various amusement operators efforts to negotiate lease deals with Thor Equities in the past, the lots 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.”

Across the Bowery, Thor’s retail building is said to be the site of New York City’s first Wahlburgers –Donnie, Mark and Paul Wahlberg’s burger franchise– opening in May. There’s a vacant space on Stillwell next to the Brooklyn Nets store that was designed to house a restaurant. Rumor has it that is the location and it’s set to be revealed during the Wahlberg’s reality show on A & E.

Mozzarepa and other street fair food at Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park on Thor’s Stillwell Avenue lot, June 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

March 24, 2014: Will Rides Return to Thor Equities Vacant Lots in Coney Island?

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

May 16, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Make Dismal Debut

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Wahlburg family

The Wahlburg family at last month’s grand opening of Wahlburgers Toronto

Wahlburgers, a burger restaurant founded in Boston by the three Wahlberg brothers–actors Mark and Donnie, and chef Paul Wahlberg– is the latest national chain set to come to Coney Island. The company announced today that New York-based franchisee Big Apple Burgers is preparing to launch six restaurants in Manhattan and one in Coney Island.

“We’re confident that our knowledge and expertise will be a great asset to the Wahlburgers brand,” said John Cestare of Big Apple Burgers. “It’s exciting to partner with the Wahlberg family and brand knowing we share the same values and family-work culture.” Ten days ago, John Castare registered the name “Coney Burgers LLC” after registering “Big Apple Burgers LLC” earlier in November. Since the deal has just been signed, no info on the franchise’s location has been released yet.

The Wahlberg family’s adventures in the burger business is the subject of an A & E TV reality series that debuted in January. The Coney Island location, which is expected to open in May, will be scripted into the show’s second season in 2015. After opening the first restaurant in 2011, they made deals to open locations in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Toronto. Today’s announcement also included 20 franchise locations in Florida.

Wahlburgers

Wahlburgers menu via Wahlburgersrestaurant.com

Will the Wahlbergs’ celebrity help them win the hamburger market share in Coney? Boardwalk mainstays Nathan’s, Tom’s, Ruby’s, and Paul’s Daughter have burgers on their menus as does Peggy O’Neill’s on Surf Avenue. White Castle Express serves their sliders at two seasonal locations in Luna Park. Burger franchises currently under construction in Coney include a Checkers in Stillwell Terminal and a Johnny Rockets next door. The Johnny Rockets as well as a Subway Cafe on the north side of Surf have faced construction delays due to post-Sandy FEMA regulations requiring them to raise the floor by 2-1/2 feet. “Some of the regulations they’re making up as they go along,” broker Joe Vitacco told ATZ.

No word on the status of the Burger-Fi which Thor Equities’ Glenn Vogel said last spring was coming to their retail building on Stillwell. Has Wahlburgers grabbed that spot, which includes a roof deck? It’s a pretty good bet. Rumor has it that’s the location and it’s set to be revealed during the reality show. Check back for updates.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 18, 2014: Coney Island Brewing Co. Applies for License for Surf Ave Brewery

May 25, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

September 11, 2013: Subway Cafe to Replace Furniture Store on Coney Island’s Surf Ave

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

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Thor Equities Coney Island

Thor Equities vacant lot on Coney Island’s Bowery at West 12th Street. November 2, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

It’s not surprising that the Coney Island Rumor Mill’s latest rumor is virtually the same one we hear every year–that amusement rides are coming to one of Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt’s vacant lots next season.

The woeful looking lot on the Bowery is adjacent to Luna Park’s Scream Zone and within sight of the new Thunderbolt roller coaster. One corner of the lot was occupied by McCullough’s Kiddie Park until October 2012, when the 50-year-old park’s long-term lease expired. The rest of the lot was part of Batting Cage and Go Kart City, which also featured bumper boats and a miniature golf course, and was evicted by Thor Equities in 2006. The last time a carnival came to this lot was 2012. The platform of the abandoned MegaWhirl ride remains.

According to the Rumor Mill, the construction of underground utilities are expected to get underway in preparation for a new amusement park to open in the spring. The Coney Island amusement area’s Palm Sunday opener– March 29th– is in 145 days. Despite various amusement operators efforts to negotiate lease deals with Thor Equities in the past, the lots remained vacant this 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.” We’ll tag this story #HopeSpringsEternal.

Thor's Coney Island

Thor’s Coney Island: Aerial view of vacant lots on south side of the Bowery between W 12th and W 15th where amusements once thrived. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

August 22, 2013: In Memoriam: Carousel & Amusement Park Operator Jimmy McCullough

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Kiddie Park Getting Squeezed by Thor Equities

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

Read Full Post »

Purge Breakout Experience

Purge Breakout Experience in Coney Island, June 12, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

One of Thor’s vacant lots in Coney Island is actually getting an entertainment attraction if only for a three day run. “Purge Breakout: An Immersive Escape Experience” is opening on Friday the 13th and staying through Sunday. Traveling through the U.S. this summer, the escape game/haunted house offers fans of the film franchise “The Purge” an opportunity to step inside the world created by Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions. The trailer trucks housing the attraction pulled onto the lot behind Nathan’s yesterday and are setting up.

On the plus side, the attraction will bring people to Coney Island who purchased the $20 timed tickets in advance and are likely to spend money on food, drinks and rides afterwards. If you’re just finding out about it, the tickets are already sold out!

Can we do this again next month for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Related posts on ATZ…

May 30, 2014: Coney Island Fireworks 2014: Fridays, Six Saturdays, and More

May 26, 2014: Photo Album: Opening Day for 5 New Businesses & Exhibits in Coney Island

May 19, 2014: New Thunderbolt Loops the Loop Again in Coney Island

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

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Little Caesars

Little Caesars $5 Pizza at Thor’s Retail Building at Surf and Stillwell. May 31, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The latest chain to put its name on the glittering marquee of Thor Equities building in the new Coney Island is Little Caesars Pizza. Over Memorial Day Weekend, there was a cart selling Little Caesars “Hot-n-Ready” $5.00 pizzas in front of Thor’s building at Surf and Stillwell. The price was right and they sold out. Afterwards, signs remained taped to the outside of the window advertising the food franchise. We wondered if it was a tryout by a franchisee or guerrilla marketing. The official sign for “Little Caesars Express” went up last week. The Detroit-based Little Caesars is the nation’s third largest pizza chain with over 35 locations in New York City. It joins Applebee’s, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Rita’s Italian Ice, It’Sugar and Rainbow Shops in making Surf and Stillwell a new mecca for chains and franchises.

What’s up with the vacant “ARCADE” next door? According to the Coney Island Rumor Mill, an arcade operator has agreed to fill the building’s two dummy arcades with games but paperwork issues are delaying the deal. No surprise there. Making a mockery of the zoning laws, the designated “arcades” have remained vacant ever since the building’s first tenant, Miami candy chain It’Sugar, opened last year. The 2009 Coney Island Rezoning requires the building to have a percentage of amusements equal to the square footage allocated for the arcades. If something other than amusements went into the space, the building’s C of O would be in jeopardy.

Why doesn’t Thor CEO Joe Sitt just throw some arcade machines in the “arcades” and open them up to the public instead of taking advantage of what appears to be a loophole in the zoning law that allows the spaces to remain vacant? Based on Sitt’s eviction of amusements from his property (“Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt,” ATZ, March 3, 2010), it’s our opinion that he’s not in any hurry to replace them.

The zoning states that “At least 15 percent of the Stillwell Avenue and West 10th Street street frontage of any zoning lot shall be occupied by Use Group A1 uses at the ground floor level.” Use Group “A1″ includes amusement arcades as well as open booths with games of skill or chance, such as water racing and shooting galleries, which used to occupy the spot in the demolished Henderson Building where the Brooklyn Nets Shop is now.

Related posts on ATZ…

March 11, 2014: Thor’s Coney Island: BurgerFi, Arcade Coming to Stillwell & Surf

October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

September 2, 2013: The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

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Reithoffer Shows

Art for Reithoffer Shows Indy 500 ‘Flitzer’ Coaster at Coney Island, May 26, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Reithoffer Shows, one of America’s oldest carnivals, is heading to Brooklyn after 11 days at the Staten Island Mall with more than 25 rides. The carnival’s Blue Unit is partnering with Aviator Sports at Floyd Bennett Field for the fifth year of the Kings County Fair, which runs from May 15 through 26. The family-run carnival billed as “The Aristocrat of Show Business” began in 1896 with a steam-driven carousel and is now operated by the 4th and 5th generations.

Meanwhile, over the weekend in Coney Island, the “Rumor Mill” was saying that Reithoffer is bringing rides to Thor Equities long-vacant lots on Stillwell from May 15-26 with the option of staying longer if business was good. The source of this “news” was said to be “very reliable.” The rumor began back in March (“Will Rides Return to Thor Equities Vacant Lots in Coney Island?” ATZ), though no specific carnival was mentioned at the time.

We’re still skeptical because no one we talked with from Reithoffer’s management knows anything about rides going to Coney Island and it’s the same date as the Kings County Fair. Blue Unit Manager Gary Alberry did allow that since Reithoffer has more than 115 rides, it’s possible some are being sent to Coney, though he’s not aware of it. The Blue Unit also has rides at the Northeast Fair in Pennsylvania and a Virginia K-Mart, while the Orange Unit is playing spots in New Jersey and Maryland, according to Reithoffer’s route list. With Memorial Day Weekend less than two weeks away, if rides are indeed coming to Coney they should be arriving any day.

On Memorial Day Weekend 2008, Thor CEO Joe Sitt proclaimed “The Summer of Hope” and filled his vacant lots on Stillwell with carnival rides from Reithoffer Shows for a limited two-week run and Geren Rides till Labor Day. Contrary to the PR campaign, the lots were vacant again by July, when Geren left for his fairs. Will this be Thor’s Summer of Hope, Part 2?

funhouse showfront

Art for Crusty Crab funhouse front, Reithoffer Shows in Coney Island. May 26, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita

UPDATE May 20, 2014

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

October 8, 2010: Traveler: Most Beautiful Video of the State Fair of Texas

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Rainbow Shops

Rainbow Shops in Thor Equities Retail Ride of a Lifetime building in Coney Island. May 3, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Last June, Rainbow Shops, a retail chain featuring discount clothing and shoes, opened on the Stillwell Avenue side of Thor Equities’ “Retail Ride of a Lifetime” Building across the street from Nathan’s Famous. At the end of October, Rainbow closed and was emptied out, but now they’re baa-ack with sun hats and flip flops galore. The Bloomberg administration’s 2009 rezoning of Coney Island’s amusement area allows accessory retail on the block where Shoot Out the Star and other games once amused in the demolished Henderson Building and where they would no longer be able to afford the rent.

Founded in 1935 and headquartered in Brooklyn, Rainbow Shops and sister brands have over 1,000 locations and join a slew of chains and franchises leasing space in the new Coney Island, including It’Sugar, Applebee’s, Johnny Rockets, Burger-Fi and Subway Cafe.

Thor Equities

Flipflops galore at Rainbow Shops in Thor Equities Retail Ride of a Lifetime building in the New Coney Island. May 3, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Meanwhile, the dummy “ARCADE” next door to Rainbow Shop remains as vacant as ever. Thor’s retail building continues to flaunt two ARCADE signs but no arcades, despite the fact that 15% of amusement frontage was required by zoning regulations to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy from the City. ATZ wrote about this sham in June 2013 and again in October 2013. We tweeted about it last week.

Apparently having an ARCADE sign is fine with the City’s Department of Planning and Department of Buildings as long as the space is not occupied by say a chain store? Aww, don’t be cynical. The Funny Face, Steeplechase Park’s ubiquitous symbol of merriment, smiles down from the marquee. As the sign atop the building says: “Thor Equities and Brooklyn Welcome You to Coney Island!”

DUMMY ARCADE

DUMMY ARCADE sign on Thor Equities Retail Building where THERE IS NO ARCADE. Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. May 3, 204. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 17, 2014: Will Rides Return to Thor Equities Vacant Lots in Coney Island?

October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades

June 18, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Shoe Store Invades Amusement Area

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

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