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Archive for the ‘Redevelopment’ Category

Coney Art Walls Marie Roberts

Coney Art Walls Mural painted by Marie Roberts in 2015 will be replaced by a new Roberts mural this season.

Coney Art Walls, an art project curated by Jeffrey Deitch that turned Thor Equities’ vacant lot behind Nathan’s into a pop culture destination last summer will be back in 2016. Seven murals painted on concrete, will stay for another season. Most of the other walls have been sandblasted and are blank canvases awaiting a new group of artists set to begin painting this spring.

“We are working on the artist line up for Coney Art Walls upcoming season,” Ethel Seno, who manages and coordinates the project for Jeffrey Deitch, told ATZ.

Jeffrey Deitch at Coney Art Walls

Curator Jeffrey Deitch at Coney Art Walls. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The art walls are interspersed with colorful shipping containers that housed Red Hook Lobster Pound, Home Frites, Bon Chovie and several other Smorgasburg vendors last summer. The cafe tables and chairs amid the art walls were a welcome amenity in Coney Island where there is a dearth of public seating. Thor Equities is close to finalizing an agreement to bring a new food operator because Smorgasburg will not be sending its vendors to Coney Island in 2016. “Not this year for us,” Eric Demby, co-founder of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg told ATZ.

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Smorgasburg vendors Blue Marble Ice Cream and New Yorkina in shipping container pop-ups at Coney Art Walls. May 23, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last year, Thor’s vacant lot across the street, bounded by Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street, hosted a popular trapeze school, wrestling matches and other entertainments, and an outdoor cafe. A banner advertising the lot for lease went up in the middle of March. On Thursday, some heavy machinery was brought it to break up the asphalt, lending credence to the idea that we heard from the Coney Island Rumor Mill. A go kart track is said to be the next new thing there, and possibly a miniature golf course.

If it turns out to be true, it’s great news and proof that everything old is new again in Coney Island. Go karts and mini golf were among the amusements evicted by Thor CEO Joe Sitt when he first bought the property in 2007.

As for Thor Equities newly acquired properties on the Bowery, sources tell ATZ the mom and pop concessionaires and food operators got a new lease with only a slight rent increase – due in three payments– but the cost of their insurance policy has tripled. Please patronize Coney Island’s independent operators this summer!

Thor Equities lot

Thor Equities lot on West 12th Street may get a go kart track. March 10, 2016. Photo © Tricia Vita

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franchise restaurant row

Franchise Restaurant Row in progress on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue: Checkers, Pizza Hut, Red Mango, Johnny Rockets, Applebee’s, IHOP , and more to come. Photo © Tricia Vita

The year is young but ATZ already has exclusive news of the first lease of 2016 on Coney Island’s franchise restaurant row, the north side of Surf Avenue. Broker Joe Vitacco says, “On Friday we signed a lease, for the 1,900 square foot space at 1223 Surf Avenue, with franchisee Nafees Bukhara. Nafees owns the Popeye’s on Surf Avenue and will be opening a Pizza Hut Express.”

Bukhara will also open a Red Mango franchise, for which he bought the rights from Rahman Hashimi, the Johnny Rockets franchisee, as well as a pretzel franchise. The Pizza Hut Express will be on the ground floor to the right of the 6,000 square foot Johnny Rockets, in a building that has been under stop-and-go construction since a lease deal was signed three years ago.

“You ask why we don’t do Mom and Pops,” Vitacco said last year, in an ongoing conversation that began with ATZ’s 2012 post “Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?” He says that Mom and Pops wouldn’t be able to afford this, referring to the extraordinary delays and ballooning costs due to city and MTA red tape.

Unlike Manhattan, where Mom and Pops are being forced out by landlords who triple the rent and then turn around and lease to chains or upscale businesses, the new franchises on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue are replacing vacant lots or illegal furniture stores which have existed for years in defiance of the zoning.

Until the early 1980’s the north side of Surf was home to individually-owned penny arcades and a variety of rides including bumper cars, carousels and even a Jumbo Jet-style coaster. By the time the last ride– Coney Island’s B & B Carousell — closed in 2005, the north side was known as the wrong side of Surf Avenue to locate a business because of the lack of foot traffic. Now it is a mix of franchises and a few Mom & Pops like the Red Doors Bar & Grill and Luna Park Cafe.

Under construction

Construction in progress on Surf Avenue building for Johnny Rockets and Pizza Hut Express. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

October 2, 2015: Coney Eats: Magic Gyro & Checkers to Open, Kosher Pizza Signs Lease, Johnny Rockets & IHOP Underway

May 14, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Red Doors Bar & Grill Opens on North Side of Surf Ave

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

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

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NeildeMause

Start off your weekend early with a Friday morning breakfast talk on “The New Coney Island: Who Gains, Who Loses?” by Brooklyn journo Neil deMause. CUNY – City Tech’s Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center is sponsoring the free event in downtown Brooklyn at 300 Jay Street (Room N119) from 8:30-10:00am. Reserve a seat via their eventbrite page.

A contributing editor for City Limits magazine and 25-year Brooklyn resident, deMause is co-author of “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit”(2008). He is currently at work on “The Brooklyn Wars,” which comes out next year. “The talk is probably best described as a Powerpoint that draws on a chapter from my book. Which is almost done now, so it should be out by April-ish,” deMause tells ATZ.

Neil is one of our fave reporters from the frenzied years leading up to the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009. One of his reports that comes to mind was titled — we kid you not– CONEY COMMUNITY BOARD VOTES YES TO REZONING PLAN, NO TO PLAN’S ACTUAL DETAILS (Village Voice, March 11, 2009). Among that CB13 meeting’s memorable moments was then-Councilman Domenic Recchia’s screaming tirade, which the reporter recorded and posted the next day.

That was nearly seven years ago but it’s only now that the plan’s very scary actual details are looming: The City recently invoked eminent domain to complete a controversial parkland swap to be able to sell off MCU parking lot to hi-rise developers. Thor Equities is snapping up more Coney Island lots to consolidate ownership of a Surf Avenue block zoned for a 30-story hotel.

It will be interesting to hear this veteran reporter on the Brooklyn beat’s take on who gains, who loses in the new Coney Island, as it begins to come into view.

What’s deMause’s favorite piece that he wrote about Coney during the rezoning hoopla?

“I’m not sure I can single out a particular favorite,” he says. “The Recchia one was absurd, certainly, as was the one from Sitt’s bizarro sideshow agglomeration he put up after he forced out Astroland. (I can still hear the tape loop: ‘Rat! Rat! Giant rat!’)”

“If I had to pick just one, it might be the very first long piece I did after Sitt started bringing in the bulldozers, since it still lays out the basics of what went down: The city’s rezoning process, inadvertently or not, set off a land war that almost ended up destroying the neighborhood that it was trying to save. It’s a stark cautionary tale about how ‘revitalization’ is a weapon that must be handled with care, and how city officials have steadfastly refused to learn that lesson — not just in Coney Island, but the rest of Brooklyn as well.”

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