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Archive for July, 2010

RIP Win Win Win Big! Big! Prizes, September 12, 2009. Demolished on June 18, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

RIP Win Win Win Big! Big! Prizes, September 12, 2009. Demolished on June 18, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

In New York City, especially in Thor’s Coney Island, if you see a building being demolished without a posted permit, say something. Call 311 right away. Don’t dawdle. There appears to be a loophole in the law that allows property owners to get away with demolishing structures whether or not they have a permit, as long as the DOB doesn’t actually catch anyone in the act of demolition. At least that’s what appears to have happened at Thor Equities-owned property at 1124 Surf Avenue and 12th Street in Coney Island on June 18. “NO VIOLATION WARRANTED FOR COMPLAINT AT TIME OF INSPECTION. NO DEMOLITION WORK NOTED AT TIME OF INSPECTION, NO WORK NOTED,” wrote Badge #2425 in his report. What about the fact the buildings were there on June 17? Show us the permit, please.

Demolition in Progress: Surf Ave & 12th Street, Coney Island.  June 18, 2010

Demolition in Progress: Surf Ave & 12th Street, Coney Island. June 18, 2010

On Friday, June 18th, around 1 pm, ATZ learned of the demolition of Thor Equities-owned buildings at the corner of Surf and 12th Street, which took place in the early morning hours. By the time a tipster arrived on the scene and sent us the above photo, the former balloon dart game, Pina Colada stand and tattoo parlor were in the dumpster. The DOB inspector turned up later in response to a Coney Island resident’s complaint. But the inspector, who said he was not allowed to give his name, told a bystander that he had to catch them in the act of demolition to issue a violation. The report which is now online on the DOB website corroborates this point.

The inspector also mentioned the building was “not on the map.” What’s that supposed to mean? No demo permit required? The buildings have been there for years! The balloon dart game and pina colada stand hadn’t operated this season since the business owners had gotten the boot from Thor last year. If you have any photos of the operating businesses such as the one posted below, please send along and ATZ will post them under “RIP Win Big! Big! Prizes for the Family!!!”

goodnight astroland. September 7, 2008. Photo © brainware3000 via flickr

Photo of the now-demolished Surf Ave balloon dart titled goodnight astroland. September 7, 2008. Photo © brainware3000 via flickr

The demolition was carried out by crews working the graveyard shift at a time when everyone else in Coney Island was getting ready for the big weekend–the first Friday Night Fireworks, Mermaid Parade, Brooklyn Cyclones season opener. A fence went up to secure Thor’s property. Now it’s an empty lot to add to Thor’s collection of empty lots. On the Coney Island Message Board, Capt Nemo called it “Sitt-struction begins, there yesterday gone today” and posted before and after photos.

Before the Demolition: Win Big! Big!  June 12, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Six Days Before the Demolition: Win Big! Big! It looked like a Rehab! June 12, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Some of you may look at the photos and agree with the poster on the CIUSA board thread who wrote sarcastically, “Maybe that gorgeous structure should have been landmarked.  It looked like a dump I always thought.  Looks better as a lot frankly, c’mon seriously?” Our response would be you’re missing the point. Letting a property owner get away with demolishing a structure without a permit sets a bad precedent. What’s next on Thor’s hit list? The doomed Bank of Coney Island adjacent to the newly empty lot, where pre-demolition asbestos abatement is in progress? In fact the early morning demolition of the concession stands reminds us of Rudy Giuliani’s early morning bulldozing of Horace Bullard’s Thunderbolt roller coaster in 2000, which ended up in court.

No one has suggested these concession stands should be landmarked. We’re sad to see another vestige of Coney Island’s vernacular signage and old school carnival games bite the dust. As someone who grew up working behind the counter of our family’s carnival games, we see a stand that was a fellow concessionaire’s business. Today he is driving a cab. One of our favorite photos of his vanished balloon dart is titled “goodbye astroland” (posted above) because the photographer shot it on Astroland’s last day in 2008. But for the operator of this game and other individual operators in Coney Island evicted by Thor Equities, a more apt title would be “Goodbye Amusement Business.” While Coney Island’s revitalized amusement area is booming, Thor Equities property is kept vacant. Last July, the Surf Avenue site owned by Thor Equities was rezoned for a 30-story hotel.

Here is a copy of the DOB’s complaint report for your reading displeasure…

NYC Department of Buildings
Overview for Complaint #:3345602 = RESOLVED
Complaint at: 1124 SURF AVENUE BIN: 3245151 Borough: BROOKLYN ZIP: 11224
Re: DANGEROUS DEMO CONST W/O PERMIT POSTED;

Category Code: 12 DEMOLITION-UNSAFE/ILLEGAL/MECHANICAL DEMO

DOB District: N/A
Special District: CI – CONEY ISLAND

Assigned To: BEST SQUAD Priority: A
Received: 06/18/2010 14:36 Block: 8696 Lot: 37 Community Board: 313
Owner: WEISS SURF AVENUE,LL

Last Inspection: 06/18/2010 – – BY BADGE # 2425
Disposition: 06/18/2010 – – I2 – NO VIOLATION WARRANTED FOR COMPLAINT AT TIME OF INSPECTION
Job Number:
Comments: NO DEMOLITION WORK NOTED AT TIME OF INSPECTION, NO WORK NOTED

Thor Equities property on Surf Avenue between Jones Walk & 12th Street.   Photo © Jim McDonnell

What the block looked like before demolition: Thor Equities property on Surf Avenue between Jones Walk & 12th Street. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Related posts on ATZ…

May 13, 2010: Scoop: Deal to Rent Thor’s Coney Island Lots a No-Go for Fair Producer

April 29, 2010: Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall

April 29, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!

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

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