Thor Equities paid $4.5 million for Coney Island’s Eldorado Building according to the deed recorded on Thursday for the March sale of the property. The recorded buyer is a newly formed foreign limited liability company with Thor Equities listed as the contact. The multi-parcel transaction included the 4,500-square-foot building at 1218 Surf Avenue housing the Bumper Cars and the 6,123-square-foot building at 1215 Bowery where the arcade is located, according to Property Shark. ATZ first reported the sale in “60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado” (ATZ, March 20, 2012).
The price per square foot was $423, which is in line with the most recent comparable sale. Last November, the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA bought Denny’s Ice Cream for $1.3 million. The price per square foot was $465.
Neighbors for more than 30 years, the owners of the Eldorado and Denny’s Ice Cream were among the few remaining longtime property owners with businesses in Coney’s amusement zone. The business owners were at the age of retirement and lacking a next generation to step in decided to sell. The Eldorado Disco Palace of Bumper Cars opened in 1973, but the building was purchased by the Fitlin and Buxbaum families in 1971. Denny’s Dennis Corines has owned and operated the ice cream shop, where specialties include pistachio-banana soft serve, since the late ’70s.
Both businesses are expected to continue for at least this season. As ATZ reported last week, Gordon Lee, who operated the Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade for the Fitlins last year, has plans to reopen the business in the coming days for one last year.
On Friday, we watched workers getting Denny’s ready for Coney Island’s Opening Day. CIUSA’s Dick Zigun tweeted, “Just ate the very 1st ice cream of the year at DENNY’S: a big hot fudge Sunday! There goes the diet…”
Zigun tells ATZ: “Since we own an ice cream parlor and have no money to renovate, Denny’s might or might not continue next year. Even once we renovate the building will maintain a 500-square-foot storefront taking up most of Surf Avenue frontage that will always serve light food to street plus lobby inside.”
“Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed last year at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel.
While the rezoning of Coney Island offers property owners the opportunity to increase the FAR –floor to area ratio–of their properties, Joe Sitt of Thor Equities got a big bonus: the controversial rezoning for “hotels” of up to 27 stories on the south side of Surf. One of these parcels is the corner of Surf and Stillwell, where Thor demolished the century-old Henderson Music Hall to build a one-story building that remains vacant. Sitt is expected to tear down the Eldorado building, which dates back to 1928, and the Coney Island Rumor Mill is saying Thor will try to acquire other property on the Bowery.
Nearly three years since the Coney Island Rezoning was approved by the City Council, we’ve seen a few demolitions by Thor but have yet to see any new construction in Coney East that wouldn’t also have been possible before the rezoning. The marquee of the Eldorado and Denny’s signage enliven Surf Avenue and will forever remain in our memories thanks to many people’s photos. Their old school authenticity will be missed in the new Coney Island.
UPDATE April 12, 2012:
Good news! Gordon Lee of Coney’s Eldorado Bumper Cars phoned to say he’s operating the ride today & open for business! The arcade will also open this weekend for the season. Hours at the Eldorado are “12 noon till closing.”
Related posts on ATZ…
March 12, 2011: Signage: Fresh Crispy Popcorn, Candy Caramel Apples
October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man