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Archive for April, 2015

Steve ESPO Powers

Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. Signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on Coney Island’s 12th St made by Powers in 2012

Goodbye vacant lots–at least temporarily–hello Coney Art Walls! Thor Equities has recruited a dream team that includes Jeffrey Deitch, art advisor and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and food vendors from Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg to help activate one of their long vacant lots in Coney Island. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV), the consulting firm run by Bryant Park’s Dan Biederman, was hired by Thor to develop events and programming for and manage the lot. There will also be a music stage with live performances throughout the summer.

Smorgasburg Coney Island will have a dozen food vendors operating restaurants out of remodeled shipping containers and two bars serving craft beer, wine and other drinks. Smorgasburg launched in 2011 as a spin-off of Brooklyn Flea, the popular flea market founded by Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby.

“Coney Art Walls will be an outdoor museum, featuring the most innovative street artists from the 1970s to the present,” said Jeffrey Deitch. The art walls will showcase work by famous street artists including Crash, Lee Quinones, Futura, Kenny Scharf, Miss Van, Lady Pink and Swoon. Steve Powers’ ICY SIGNS was hired to paint the title sign for Coney Art Walls. His signage for ‘Miss Coney Island’ and games on West 12th St was installed in 2012. For Powers, whose Dreamland Artists Club created signage for Coney Island businesses in 2004 and 2005, only a few of which remain, it marks a return to a landscape changed by real estate speculation, redevelopment and the rezoning of 2009.

“Coney Island visitors need more comfortable places to sit and relax, and we see demand for new activities and programs that will build on the neighborhood’s rich history, and strengthen its reputation as an attraction unlike anything else in New York,” said Ben Donsky, senior project manager at Biederman Redevelopment Ventures. “We are delighted to be part of this wonderful redevelopment program.” The consulting firm’s clients include Bryant Park, the Grand Central Partnership, Fanueil Hall Marketplace, and Rye Playland.

Coney Art Walls 1320 Bowery Coney Island

Prep for ‘Coney Art Walls’ at Thor’s long vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s. April 30, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The vacant lot at 1320 Bowery behind Nathan’s is bordered by West 15th Street and the west side of Stillwell Avenue. Thor’s Stillwell properties were once home to amusements galore including the Tornado roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled ride from the New York World’s Fair (1941-1974) and Norman Kaufman’s Batting Cage and Go Kart City, which was forced to close when Sitt bought the property in 2006. Rezoned by the City for retail and entertainment, the lots were used for flea markets in 2009, 2011 and 2012, but 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.”

Set to begin in May, Coney Art Walls is expected to run at least through September.

UPDATE May 6, 2015:

Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was hired by Thor to manage programming for two lots. What are they planning for Thor’s second long-vacant lot, on the east side of Stillwell, across the street from where Coney Walls will be? “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots.”

As for game trailers coming to the lot and kiosks for rent, as the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying: “There are no actual ‘kiosks’ in our plans on the east side of Stillwell, at least right now,” Donsky says. “But Gordon Lee (of the Eldorado) is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”

Related posts on ATZ…

May 6, 2015: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to Draw Portraits of Coney Island Residents for Coney Art Walls

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

October 28, 2013: Photo Album: Banksy Brings His Robot to Coney Island

February 16, 2013: Photo Album: Post-Sandy MERCY Graffiti in Coney Island

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Wahlburgers

Slated to open this summer, Wahlburgers will have a rooftop overlooking Thor’s Stillwell lots. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last week, Wahlburgers released details of the 6,800 square foot franchise restaurant currently under construction in Coney Island and slated to open this summer. Eater dubbed it “a massive indoor/outdoor extravaganza.” Rooftop patio dining with a retractable glass roof sounds spectacular but it’s a stretch to say Wahlburgers “will overlook Coney Island’s famous boardwalk and beach” as the pr copy claims.

Located in Thor Equities’ retail building on Stillwell Avenue across from Nathan’s, the celebrity burger palace overlooks the Bowery and Thor CEO Joe Sitt’s long-vacant lots. That’s why we’re betting the rumors that began in November and continued this year about attractions coming to those lots for the summer are indeed true.

Wahlburgers

Architectural Rendering of Wahlburgers in Coney Island

Sources have told ATZ that Thor’s lots will host food and merch in 20 trailers. Rides and other attractions are now said to be part of the mix. Ironically there was an entire amusement park including bumper boats and a miniature golf course there before Joe Sitt bought the property in 2006 and promptly turned it into “Thor Equities Corridors of Blight.” The last time a carnival was here was 2012. The lots remained vacant in 2014 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.”

MegaWhirl

Prototype MegaWhirl ride, abandoned after the 2012 season and damaged by Hurricane Sandy, is finally being demolished. April 25, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion

While the DOB has yet to issue permits for a “temporary fair,” the property is being prepped in earnest. Last week, the MegaWhirl ride, abandoned after it debuted here in 2012 and was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, was being demolished and tossed in a dumpster. Underground electric utilities were installed last month and the Bowery was cleared of concession trailers adjacent to the lot.

ATZ’s first post back in December about the celebrity burger franchise opening in Coney Island and subsequent updates continue to be as popular as posts about Friday night fireworks! That makes us think it’s going to be a magnet for some of Mark Wahlberg’s 15+ million Facebook fans. The Wahlburgers restaurants are the backdrop for the A&E TV reality series about Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg’s adventures in the burger business. This summer’s opening of the Coney Island location is being scripted into the show. The original opening date of early May has been pushed back to June.

Wahlburgers

Signage on Wahlburgers currently under construction in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

UPDATE May 6, 2015:

Thor Equities has recruited Jeffrey Deitch, art advisor and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and food vendors from Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg to help activate one of their long vacant lots in Coney Island. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV), the consulting firm run by Bryant Park’s Dan Biederman, was hired by Thor to develop events and programming for and manage the lot as well as the one on the east side of Stillwell There will also be a music stage with live performances throughout the summer. (Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot, ATZ, April 30, 2015).

Biederman will also manage a second long-vacant lot, on the east side of Stillwell Avenue, across from Coney Walls. “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots. Gordon Lee of El Dorado is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”

Related posts on ATZ…

April 10, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Power Surge and Enterprise-Style Ride Set for Comeback

February 13, 2015: Coney Island 2015: IHOP Franchisee Signs Lease for 5,400-Square-Foot Surf Ave Store

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

December 5, 2014: Wahlburgers Burger Franchise to Open in Coney Island

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Dunk Tank Clowns

Still from ‘Dunk Tank Clowns,’ a documentary by Daniel McGuire

Daniel McGuire’s documentary short ‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ premieres this weekend at Boston’s Independent Film Festival. “I’m too old for this. I’m glad you came here,” says seasoned clown Kenny Dickman in the trailer. “I’m on my first annual retirement tour. We’re politically incorrect.”

So true. Have you noticed the bozos have disappeared from Coney Island as well as New York City’s street fairs? In 2011, Drown the Clown, which we last photographed in 2009, was banished from Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro for being “too raucous” in the increasingly gentrified neighborhood. In Coney Island, the last photos we took were before the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009, which made way for restaurants, retail and condominium development.

Insulting people for a living isn’t as easy as it looks, according to the film’s synopsis. The documentary offers an inside look at the profession by longtime carnival bozos Terry Leonard and Tom Miller, who are seen working fairs in Massachusetts, and Dickman, whose territory is Pennyslvania and was with S & S Amusements the season that we toured with the show. Carnival days!

‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ screens at the Somerville Theatre on Saturday at 10:00pm and Monday at 7:15pm.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

September 17, 2014: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

October 6, 2013: Video of the Day: The Down Home Daredevils

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

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