Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2012

Shore Theater

Vacant and for Sale: The Shore Theater, on left, viewed from the Thunderbolt lot, a 3-acre development site. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The above photo taken yesterday shows Coney Island’s long-vacant Shore Theater, on the left, viewed from the three-acre development site where the Thunderbolt roller coaster, illegally demolished by the City in 2000, once stood. Both are owned by Horace Bullard and are among two dozen privately owned properties advertised for sale or lease on a Coney Island Development Corp. map of retail opportunities in 2011 and 2012. The Shore Theater has an asking price of $13 million and the Thunderbolt parcel says “Submit all Offers.” Nobody snapped ’em up yet. If you think about it, buyers are few in Coney’s over-priced amusement area. There’s the City and Thor Equities. Plus Coney Island USA, which bought the building next door to their sideshow headquarters.

Coney Island USA’s artistic director Dick Zigun and Brooklyn Daily deserve credit for calling attention to the plight of the Shore Theater, which has been shuttered for more than 35 years. In December 2010, the City landmarked the exterior and presumably would like to see the building restored. But in our opinion, Zigun saying that the City should seize the Shore from its owner and the Brooklyn Daily doing a reader poll on the E.D. issue is grandstanding to make a point.

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loew's Coney Island, is up for City landmark designation. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loews Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Bloomberg administration was right to back off from the idea of taking land by condemnation from Thor Equities and other Coney Island property owners during the rezoning hearings in 2009. Under sharp questioning by City Council land use committee members, the EDC’s Seth Pinsky was forced to admit, “I’m not saying we will use eminent domain, but in fairness to your question, I’m not saying we won’t.” In order to get Council members to agree to vote for the zoning, the EDC instead had to negotiate an agreement to buy property from Thor Equities. At the same time, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and other property owners were no longer threatened by E.D.

As for the Shore, the City should either come up with the money to buy Bullard’s property or find a buyer. Community Board 13’s land use committee voted yes on the Coney Island rezoning, but one of the non-binding stipulations was that the City buy the theater and make it into a community arts center. What happened to that idea? Ideally BP Marty Markowitz could use the $64 million set aside for the Seaside Park amphitheater to purchase and renovate the Shore. Or somebody can start a “Chip in” to buy the Shore and Mayor Bloomberg can make it one of his charitable projects. The City should buy the Thunderbolt parcel too and use it to right Mayor Giuliani’s wrong and rebuild either the Thunderbolt or the Tornado.

As far as we know, there’s no precedent for the Landmarks Preservation Commission taking property by Eminent Domain. There is however the precedent of a Demolition by Neglect lawsuit which, if successful, requires the owner to fix up the property or sell it. As ATZ reported at the time of the Shore’s landmarking in December 2010:

If the building is landmarked, Demolition by Neglect laws could come into play. The New York City demolition by neglect ordinance states, “every [owner] of a landmark site or historic district shall keep in good repair (1) all of the exterior portions of such improvement and (2) all interior portions thereof which, if not so maintained, may cause or tend to cause the exterior portions of such improvement to deteriorate, decay or become damaged or otherwise to fell into a state of disrepair.” NEW YORK, N.Y., CODE § 25-311 (2001).

Last year [2009], in a precedent setting lawsuit, the City was awarded $1.1 million in civil penalties and gave the owners of the landmarked Windermere apartments a choice of fixing the property or selling it. “This settlement sends a message to owners of landmarked buildings that they must keep them in a state of good repair,” said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a New York City Law Department press release about the case. “Buildings like the Windermere are an indispensable part of New York City’s architectural heritage and must be preserved for future generations.”

A rare glimpse of the ornate interior of the Shore Theater, photographed by historian Charles Denson, is on view at the Coney Island History Project exhibit center though September 3rd.

UPDATE August 4, 2012

Charles Denson’s beautiful photos of the Shore Theater interior made into a heartbreaking video. Watch it here.

Coney Island Theatre Building.  Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

Coney Island Theatre Building. Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

October 20, 2015: Goodbye Ghost Hole, MCU Parking Lot? City’s Coney Land Grab Not Just Vacant Land

January 10, 2012: Will Casino Gold Rush of 1970s Replay in Coney Island

December 14, 2010: Amid Demolitions & Evictions in Coney Island, City Landmarks Shore Theater

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Film shoot

Crew shooting at the Coney Island Cyclone for an upcoming Travel Channel series on Boardwalks. July 21, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Last weekend a crew from Indigo Films was in Coney Island on a two-day shoot for an upcoming Travel Channel series. The new show is tentatively titled “Amazing Boardwalk Empires.” They filmed Coney Island’s 22nd Annual Sand Sculpting Contest and some of the features of the boardwalk as well as Luna Park and Scream Zone, the Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the Coney Island History Project, the Coney Island Sideshow and Lola Star Boutique. Coney Island was selected for the show because the Riegelmann Boardwalk is among the top beach boardwalks in the country on lists as various as National Geographic, Travel & Leisure and USA Today.

Film Shoot

Extra being outfitted with GoPro helmet cam to ride the Air Race, Luna Park. July 21, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

In the photo above, one of the extras is being mounted with a GoPro helmet cam to ride Zamperla’s Air Race, according to photographer Jim McDonnell. The HD camera is used a lot in shooting sports and POV videos. In the photo below, taken inside the Coney Island History Project exhibit center, Amanda Deutch is being interviewed about the history of Coney’s Boardwalk, where she leads walking tours for the History Project.

Indigo Films is an award-winning independent television production company that has produced such Travel Channel shows as Insane Coaster Wars and America’s Most Haunted Places. The Travel Channel series on Boardwalks is expected to air in September.

Travel Channel Shoot

Travel Channel Interviewing Amanda Deutch at Coney Island History Project. July 21, 2012. Photo © Coney Island History Project

Share

Related posts on ATZ...

July 8, 2012: Video of the Day: Coney Island Lights by Jim McDonnell

June 15, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Guide to Free Summer Events in Coney Island

May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

September 16, 2010: Luna Park Coney Island: Zamperla Air Race On-Ride POV Video

Read Full Post »

The Zipper was a thrill ride on West 12th Street in Coney Island. Now it’s the title of Amy Nicholson’s new documentary about the rezoning and redevelopment of Coney Island. “A small-time ride operator and his beloved carnival contraption become casualties in the battle over the future of Coney Island” is the film’s capsule description. The trailer was released the other day and it will make you want to see the movie, even if you think you know how the redevelopment turned out.

The Bloomberg administration succeeded in “saving” Coney Island by buying it from Thor Equities, didn’t they? That’s what you’d believe from some of the news stories and statistics released this summer. “Coney Island, Renewed but Recognizable,” says the New York Times. Ah, but the story is far from over. What kind of vision will future Mayors have for Coney Island? Before the lease on Luna Park expires in December 2020, the City plans to issue an RFP for a permanent amusement operator. Meanwhile, six years after evicting the Zipper, Thor CEO Joe Sitt is sitting on property rezoned for 30-story hotels and advertising his first new building in Coney Island as “The Retail Ride of a Lifetime.”

We’ve been following @TheZipper on twitter over the past year and get a kick out of their tweets referring to “Zipper star Amanda Burden,” “Zipper star Domenic Recchia” and “Zipper star Joe Sitt,” among others. We imagined the Director of the New York City Department of City Planning, Coney Island’s City Councilman and Thor’s CEO on the red carpet, now here they are in the trailer. A grinning Joe Sitt shows off a framed T-shirt with his self-proclaimed nickname “Joey Coney Island” and rattles off the names of businesses that might come to his Coney Island: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Dave and Buster’s, Hard Rock, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Ugh. Sounds like Any Vacation Spot, USA.

We’d say “Bring Back Coney Island’s Zipper,” but it was sold to a carnival operator in a beach town in Honduras, where it’s still thrilling riders, according to the film-maker, who went to see it one last time. The Honduras footage will provide a satisfying coda to the film which Nicholson and cinematographer Jerry Risius have been working on for the past five years. But what happened to its owner, independent ride operator Eddie Miranda? In the trailer, he says his days in Coney Island are pretty much over. The Zipper film’s new website also debuted this week.

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

November 15, 2012: Zipper: Coney Island Documentary Debuts at DOC NYC

March 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Eldorado Auto Skooter at Coney Island (2011)

July 19, 2011: Video of the Day: Let Us Now Praise Coney Island’s Zipper

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

Read Full Post »

Rendering for 1218 Surf Ave, currently the Eldorado Bumper Cars, shows a new arcade and burger restaurant. Photo via Thor Equities Facebook Page

Long absent from social media channels, last week Thor Equities joined Facebook and Twitter. “Our FB page is up & running. We have begun featuring exclusive photos & descriptions of our properties. Take a look,” they tweeted. We did, and found that Thor “liked” Times Square, Central Park, a raft of real estate pages, and one that surprised us– Bikram Yoga — but has yet to “like” Coney Island or anybody in Brooklyn. Snub? Priorities? They’ll probably get around to it sooner or later.

Among the Brooklyn properties featured in Thor’s Facebook photo albums are two in Coney Island: The vacant new building at Surf and Stillwell Avenues and the Eldorado Building at 1218 Surf Avenue. Eldorado owners Sandy and Sheila Fitlin sold the building to Thor in March and the bumper cars and arcade are expected to close at the end of the season after a 40-year run.

Dennys and Eldorado

Thor Equities bought the Eldorado Building at 1218 Surf Avenue in March 2012. Its neighbor is Denny’s Ice Cream, owned by Coney Island USA. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When the Eldorado closes the Fitlins plan to take down the marquee and other signs, which were not part of the sale, they told ATZ. They hope to place the signage with a museum or collector. Knowing all of this did not lessen the shock and dismay of seeing Thor’s rendering for 1218 Surf with a “Joe’s Burgers” and generic arcade replacing the fabulous Eldorado Skooters facade and “Bump Your Ass Off” signage. If this is news to you, better run right over to the disco palace of bumper cars and bump, bump, bump for one last time this summer.

Along with the expected closure of McCullough’s Kiddie Park on the Bowery, whose lease with Thor ends this season, the closing of the Eldorado marks a critical point in the exit of independent amusement operators with a long history in Coney Island and the beginning of Thor’s “CONEY ISLAND – The RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME.” It started in 2007, with Thor’s eviction of Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City and the Zipper and Spider rides documented in Amy Nicholson’s upcoming film “Zipper.” It continued with the loss of games in the shuttered Grashorn Building and the demolished Henderson Building. The caption for the Eldorado property calls it “an unbeatable retail opportunity.”

On Thor’s Facebook page, the captions on the two Coney properties got reversed and what’s more the new building at Surf and Stillwell is misidentified idiotically referred to as the “Henderson Building.” The century-old music hall was demolished by Thor in 2010 despite preservationists’ best efforts to save it. The doomed Henderson along with the old Shore Hotel were on a parcel rezoned by the City in July 2009 for a high rise hotel. “Every one of these buildings is just horrible, rundown relics with nothing exciting about them. I hate to say it, but the great buildings of Coney Island disappeared 80 years ago,” Sitt told NY1 before demolishing the buildings.

Ironically, Sitt’s first new construction after years of real estate speculation in Coney Island is a suburban looking one-story structure that looks like a car dealership. We certainly hope it’s a typo that Thor is calling this vacant, boarded-up new building the Henderson Building! Why not call it the Thor Building? The question is what are Joe Sitt’s plans for Coney Island’s newest building at Surf and Stillwell, and Coney’s oldest building– the Grashorn — at Surf and Jones Walk? ATZ tweeted that question to @ThorEquities. Awaiting a reply.

Thor

Rendering of Thor Equities Building at Surf and Stillwell, Coney Island via Thor Equities Facebook

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

March 20, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

May 4, 2011: Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME”

December 27, 2010: Video: Tribute to the Henderson Theater by Charles Denson

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

Read Full Post »

Game

6 Balls, Score Under 14 Or Over 28. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

These two clowns are neighbors of Miss Coney Island, the dancing mannequin, on West 12th Street in Coney Island. Score Under 14 or Over 29 to Win a Big Prize!

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

April 13, 2012: Photo of the Day: Catch 1 Ball Win This Prize

April 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Collection of Carnival Knockdown Dolls

December 7, 2011: Jones Walk’s “Miss Coney Island” Shimmies Over to 12th St

Read Full Post »

Hey! Get It, Get It! at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

“Hey! Get it Get it!” is back at Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island. Snappy new signage with the familiar lettering and motto is hawking their delicious clams and calamari. What’s more, the Georgoulakos family’s recently renovated eatery on the Boardwalk — established as Gregory and Paul’s in 1962 — celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

“We have been so busy playing catch up that we haven’t celebrated,” Tina Georgoulakos told ATZ, adding that right now they are concentrating on getting the Paul’s Daughter sign installed on the upper part of the facade. “It’s a funny coincidence that I have been Paul’s daughter for fifty years and he opened his first store on the Boardwalk and West 8th fifty years ago. Hopefully in August when things slow down a little, we will celebrate.” ATZ recommends that you go directly to Paul’s Daughter for a plate of clams and a beer and be among the first to wish them a Happy Anniversary!

Paul Georgoulakos

Paul Georgoulakos, 83, the Boardwalk’s Oldest Operator. June 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The timeline on Paul’s Daughter’s Facebook Page begins six decades ago in 1951, when 21-year-old Paul Georgoulakos started his first Coney Island business—a milk stand at Stillwell Terminal—with a $500 loan from his aunt. A store on West 12th Street and the Bowery soon followed. Gregory & Paul’s got started in 1962, when Paul partnered with Gregory Bitetzakis and took over the old Howard Johnson’s on West 8th Street and the Boardwalk. The partners survived their first eviction in 1968: “Rockefeller buys the property their store is on and donates it to the Aquarium, putting them (and seven other stores) out of business,” notes the timeline.

Paul's Daughter Coney Island

Clams on the Half-shell at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The current location on the Boardwalk at West 10th Street opened in 1970 and was leased from Astroland Park. The famed Astroland Rocket was perched on the roof of the store until the park closed in 2008. When Gregory, who operated the G & P’s on West 10th Street opposite the Cyclone retired in 2009, Paul’s Boardwalk store remained open, leasing from new landlord Thor Equities and changing its name to Paul’s Daughter.

Last year, it looked like the veteran Mom-and-Pop would close forever just short of its 50th anniversary when Paul’s was evicted along with seven others. Zamperla, which opened Luna Park, had assumed management of the Boardwalk property now owned by the City and planned a glitzy redo by French food giant Sodexo and a Miami Beach restaurateur. In a surprising about-face, the amusement operator later offered eight-year leases to two of the businesses–Paul’s Daughter and Ruby’s Bar– with the stipulation that they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in gut rehabs of their stores.

Paul's Daughter Coney Island

The New Bar at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. June 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

How does the new Paul’s Daughter look? As we wrote in May, our first impression was that both Paul’s and Ruby’s stores looked refreshed and ready to compete for customers in the new Coney Island while paying tribute to the spirit of the past and continuing to embody the personalities of their owners. Check out our flickr slide show of the New Paul’s Daughter, but keep in mind the photos document a work-in-progress and some of the changes that you will notice this summer were required by the landlord or city regulations.

When Paul’s Daughter officially reopened on the weekend before Memorial Day 2012, we were happy to see the beloved signs for “Mr. Shrimp” and “Chiefito and Chiefita — the Nice N Sweet/Fluffy Cotton Candy Kids” and “Clams” returned to the new facade. The A & W Mama and Papa Burger remain on the roof and the vintage signs were restored and brought back to the lower facade. Additional signage was needed due to building renovations and adjustments to the menu.

Paul's Daughter

Vintage Signs at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 14, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The building’s square corners were rounded to resemble the way it looked when it was built shortly after the Boardwalk was moved in 1939. A photo on the Coney Island History Project website shows “the new fireproof, streamlined, Art Moderne-style building that replaced the ornate wooden Feltman’s Boardwalk restaurant.”

The new signage was painted by Brooklyn artist and School of Visual Arts instructor Stephen Gaffney, whose work as a muralist is on view in City parks and schools. Having previously restored G & P’s hand-painted signs when the restaurant’s name was changed to Paul’s Daughter, Gaffney was able to recapture the spirit of the old signs in his new work.

Paul's Daughter, Coney Island

Papa Burger and New Signs at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Half of the storefront is now a stand-up bar made with wood salvaged from the roof joists of the former Club Atlantis/Cha Cha’s, which is undergoing a gut rehab by Tom’s Restaurant of Prospect Heights. Photos of Paul and his family and the stores that he operated over the past sixty years fill the wall behind the open-air bar and the interior of the pillars. In the photo below, the large poster shows Paul in 1954, leaning on the glass case at his store on West 12th Street and the Bowery, where Chinese egg rolls and hot knishes were a popular item. Soda was ten cents!

Stephen Gaffney

Artist Stephen Gaffney behind the counter at Paul’s Daughter. July 14, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

May 22, 2012: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!

May 19, 2012: Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar Reopen on Saturday, Restored Signs to Return!

December 8, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

November 13, 2011: The End of Paul’s Daughter As We Know It–Will They Return?

Read Full Post »

Coney Island Concretewalk

Coney Island Concretewalk at West 36th Street near Sea Gate. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Thursday, the advocacy groups Friends of the Boardwalk and the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance along with neighborhood residents announced that they had filed a lawsuit against the New York City Parks Department. According to CBBA’s website savetheboardwalk.wordpress.com: “The Parks Department abused its discretion when it decided that its plan for the Boardwalk was not subject to any environmental review, even though the potential for negative environmental impact is obvious and far-reaching.”

The suit aims to stop the agency from replacing additional sections of the Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic wood. The above photo taken a few weeks ago by ATZ shows the concrete-slabbed Boardwalk between West 33rd and West 37th Streets in the West End of Coney Island. It’s not a pretty sight. The cracks, repairs and drainage issues mentioned in the suit can be seen in the close-up shots. The Parks Department’s plan to redo the Boardwalk was approved by the Public Design Commission at a charade of a public hearing in March.

Coney Island Boardwalk

Section of Coney Island Concretewalk at West 36th Street near Sea Gate. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The petitioners are the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance and its president Robert Burstein, Ocean Parkway resident Arlene Brenner, Boardwalk resident Brunilda Figueroa, Friends of the Boardwalk and its president Todd Dobrin, and Ida Sanoff, an environmental advocate who led the fight against the amphitheater in Seaside Park. All are longtime residents of Brighton Beach.

The release says:

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the Parks Department from implementing a plan to replace 56,000 square feet of wood boards on the section of the Coney Island Boardwalk running from Coney Island Avenue to Brighton 15th Street with concrete and plastic. The lawsuit also contends that the Parks Department has a longer-range plan to replace most of the Boardwalk – approximately 1 million square feet of wood – with some combination of the same concrete and plastic materials.

The lawsuit contends that the Parks Department violated the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) and New York City’s Environmental Quality Review (“CEQR”) regulations by not subjecting its plans to the necessary environmental review. Under SEQRA and CEQR, state and municipal agencies are required to determine if actions they undertake may have a significant impact on the environment. Under the law, factors such as erosion, flooding, drainage problems, and impact on existing use must be considered. Additionally, an agency must consider the project’s impairment of the character or quality of important historical or aesthetic resources and existing community or neighborhood character.

Cncretewalk

Section of Coney Island Concretewalk at West 36th Street near Sea Gate. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The full complaint can be read via scribd

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

February 29, 2012: Exclusive: Coney Boardwalk Group’s Letter to PDC Rebuts Parks

January 24, 2012: Parks Postpones Do-Or-Die Hearing on Coney Concretewalk

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: