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Posts Tagged ‘Astro Tower’

Hearing the Astrotower sing on a cold and windy day is one of the lost pleasures of a Coney Island winter. When the former amusement ride was demolished on July Fourth Weekend in 2013, we not only lost a Coney icon but also one of the world’s most unusual musical instruments.

In this video by Jay Singer, shot in March 2013, the mystical tower sings like an Aeolian harp. Commenters say “Magical. Ethereal.” and “Best soundtrack for a horror movie EVER.” Designed to be played by the wind, an Aeolian harp vibrates and produces an eerie sound.

A search on Youtube turns up a slew of videos of Aeolian instruments including composer Philip Blackburn‘s Wind Harps and Wind Flutes in St. Paul, Minnesota. The quirky environmental sound piece was funded by a $10,000 Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. St. Paul is coincidentally one of the few places that still has an operating Von Roll Tower. The Minnesota State Fair’s Space Tower was installed in 1965, the year after Coney Island’s Astrotower.

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2014: Astroland Rocket Finds New Home Beside the Wonder Wheel

July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

July 3, 2013: Long Live Coney Island’s Swaying, Singing Astrotower!

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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Stump of the Astrotower

The AstroStump, all that remains of the Astrotower, decorated for Halloween at Coney Island’s Luna Park. October 5, 2013

ATZ’s award for the creepiest, most inappropriate Halloween decoration goes to Luna Park for a bizarre attempt at paying homage to the demolished Astrotower. Formerly wrapped in a tarp, the AstroStump is all that remains of the tower, which is now bedecked with skeleton props as the centerpiece of a faux graveyard for the park’s Halloween celebration. Seeing the blackened, blow-torched edges of the chopped down icon for the first time was very unsettling. It’s like seeing the tortured corpse of a dear departed friend who would have been 50 years old next year. They got the date wrong on the tombstone–the tower debuted in 1964, not 1962.

What were they thinking? Well, the original All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for humans to propitiate the restless dead and for the dead to gain vengeance before moving to the next world. Not sure if dead landmarks have restless spirits, but the Astrotower was practically human since it used to sing. It’s been three months since the genuinely horrific July 4th Week when the 275-foot tower was cut apart with blowtorches in a marathon demolition following hysterical claims that it was swaying more than usual had closed most of Coney Island. The tower’s cut-down sections were carted off to the Cropsey Avenue junkyard while the stump was hidden from view by a tarp and fenced off like it had the plague.

The Remains of the Astrotower

The Astrostump is all that remains of the 275-foot Astrotower. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Considering that not a trace remains of Astroland at the site of the former Astroland except this stump, it would have been more appropriate for Luna Park to put up a real plaque after the demolition. It’s distressing that a recollection of a tragic episode in Coney Island history, especially one that happened just three months ago, is reduced to a fake graveyard for Halloween.

However, not everyone agrees that this Halloween decoration is in bad taste. One Coney Island fan tweeted that the idea was “extremely clever.” Also in the faux graveyard are tombstones of long dead Coney luminaries such as Tilyou, Feltman, Handwerker and Mangels as well as a gravestone for Astroland Park. What do you think?

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

July 3, 2013: Long Live Coney Island’s Swaying, Singing Astrotower!

September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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The Remains of the Astrotower

The Astrostump is all that remains of the 275-foot Astrotower. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

After the nightmarish July 4 Holiday Weekend demolition of the Swaying Tower of Coney Island, all that remains in Luna Park are a few feet, shown above, covered with tarp. It looks like a grave. The media appear to have lost interest in what they called “the iconic Astrotower” as soon as it was chopped down to about 90 feet, a third of its original size.

News reports that “Officials have not said yet whether the tower will be reassembled or if it’s gone for good” are ridiculous. The tower was not dismantled, bolt by bolt. It was cut apart with a blowtorch and the pieces were hauled off to the Cropsey Avenue scrapyard, where fans rushed to photograph it and salvage pieces as a souvenir.

Coney fans on social media are referring to what’s left of the tower in Coney Island as the Astrostump or the Lunastump. Some of our friends who live in nearby high rises and for whom the Astrotower was an intrinsic part of the skyline say something’s missing and they feel sad.

Astrotower

Local resident Rochelle Goldman, who live-tweeted the last hours of the demolition, posing with section of the Astrotower, July 5, 2013. Photo © Rochelle Goldman

It is more than sad. The Parachute Jump, sole survivor of Steeplechase, endured years of neglect and threats of demolition before being landmarked in 1988 and rehabbed in 2002. Astroland, Coney’s Island’s Space-Age theme park, opened in 1964, which was Steeplechase’s final season. For children of the late 60’s and the 1970’s and beyond, Astroland Park was Coney Island.

The tower was all that remained of Astroland in the new Coney Island and now it’s gone.

Astrotower

Astrotower, September 9, 2007. Photo © Adrian Kinloch via britinbrooklyn.net

This photo and the one below were snapped by photographer Adrian Kinloch on the last day of the 2007 season, when the observation tower last operated as a ride.

Astroland was built on the site of Feltman’s, the restaurant and amusement park complex owned by Charles Feltman, the inventor of the hot dog. When the Albert family decided to develop the park, Jerry Albert began making trips to the West Coast and Europe to seek out state-of-the-art rides. Designed and built by Willy Bühler Space Towers Company of Switzerland with cabins by Von Roll, the $1.7 million dollar Astrotower was the first of its kind in the U.S. when it was installed.

“Who Wants An Outlandish Astrotower? Who Wants A Big Bagel in the Sky?” said an editorial in the World Telegram and Sun when the Astrotower made its debut in 1964, according to the book “Coney Island and Astroland” by Charles Denson. “There’s only one place where anyone would dare to put up such a thing, and that’s Coney Island, that land of the frivolous, where gaiety and fun have reigned for years. We’re glad to see the old place hasn’t lost it’s zest for the bizarre.” R.I.P. Astrotower, 1964-2013.

Astrotower

Hungry March Band Play as they Ride Astrotower on Astroland’s Last Night of 2007 Season, September 9, 2007. Photo © Adrian Kinloch via britinbrooklyn.net

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July 3, 2013: Long Live Coney Island’s Swaying, Singing Astrotower!

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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Astrotower Tattoo

Coney fan with new Astrotower Tattoo “Astroland 1962-2008 R.I.P” on the park’s last day, September 7, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Update July 6, 2013, 9:41PM… RIP Astrotower! The sad and startling four-day, July 4th Holiday Week Demolition of the Astrotower  ended this morning with the last sections of the tower being chopped down and hauled off to the scrapyard on Cropsy Avenue. The base has been covered with tarp–it looks like a grave. Coney fans on social media are referring to what’s left of it as the Astrostump or the Lunastump.

ATZ’s updates from July 3 through 5 have been moved to the end of this post, which was written in the early morning hours of July 3, when we thought the swaying tower had been declared safe and the parks would open at noon the next day as usual. Luna Park sent out a tweet every hour overnight linking to this July 2 Facebook post which says “The NYC Buildings Department has announced that the Astrotower is stable and poses no immediate risk.”

For those of us who know and love the swaying, singing Astrotower, one of the last survivors of Astroland in Coney Island, yesterday’s news reports that the FDNY had rushed to the scene to monitor the stability of the tower was shocking. The Daily News described the Coney icon as the “Tower of Trepidation,” all because an alarmed tourist, unaware that the tower has always swayed, called 911. The amusement parks had to be closed and evacuated.

Late Tuesday night, Luna Park reassured Facebook fans that the Department of Buildings deemed the Astrotower stable. Whew! We hope that means the parks reopen today, the big Fourth of July celebration can go on as scheduled and the tower will finally get some TLC. And maybe a sign that says Swaying Tower of Coney Island?

Here’s magicalthemepark’s video of the swaying Astrotower back in May…

ATZ was skeptical from the get-go that the Astrotower was “unstable.” The tower has always swayed. “It all has to do with the angle of the wind. A very strong flow of wind at the right angle will cause it to sway,” Mark Blumenthal, former operations manager of Astroland told ATZ. “If it’s a high tide, it may help it.” He recalled an incident during Matt Kennedy’s 100th birthday party at Gargiulo’s in 2005 when he had to rush back to Astroland because the tower’s sway had caused police and firetrucks to converge on the scene. A former NYC Department of Buildings inspector was called in to do an engineering report and the tower passed muster.

In this video by Jay Singer, the mystical tower also sings like an Aeolian harp…

Ever since Luna Park was built on the Astroland site in April 2010, there’d been talk of Zamperla re-purposing the Tower as signage or possibly restoring it as a ride. Since nothing was done, the 270-foot observation tower got rusty and began to look like a neglected step-child amid the glittering new rides on the skyline.

Last September, after the Tower was relit for the first time since Astroland closed in 2008, Luna Park confirmed via their Facebook page that it “will provide Coney Island with a spectacular, night-time extravaganza,” but will not be reactivated as a ride.

Zamperla removed the gondola –which had given the Astrotower its nickname the “Bagel in the Sky”– and counter weights from the tower in March, after getting a permit to do so last summer. The lighting of the Astrotower with LEDs, similar to what was done with the Parachute Jump, has been planned for next season.

This fabulous on-ride video by amusement ride site The DoD3 shows the Astrotower in operation in 2007, which was its last season.

According to the Coney Island History Project, the $1.7 million Astrotower was manufactured by the Swiss company Von Roll and installed in 1964. “It required a foundation of 1,100 tons of concrete and 13 tons of steel reinforcing bars. Like Astroland’s other space-age themed rides, the tower was built specifically for the park.” During the rezoning hearings, the Municipal Art Society and Save Coney Island said the structure was eligible for the State and National Registers.

Update: July 3, 2013, 5:00PM… At a press conference this afternoon, Luna Park officials announced that the Astrotower would be torn down, according to NY1 News. The more prominent sway of the tower was attributed to the removal of parts of the structure. As ATZ reported, Zamperla removed the gondola –which had given the Astrotower its nickname the “Bagel in the Sky”– and counter weights from the tower in March, after getting a permit to do so last summer. This was obviously a big mistake as anyone who worked for Astroland will tell you the cab, which weighed 10 tons, was always parked mid-tower to stabilize it.

Buildings Department Commissioner Robert LiMandri was quoted on NY1 on July 3rd: It is not unusual for the tower to move a bit, but the Buildings Department determined the amount of sway to be too much in low wind to be able to say for sure that it would not collapse. The city said that contractors working for Luna Park removed elevator machinery late in the winter, and they said that has now increased the sway of the Astrotower, making it unsafe.“Part of that work was to actually remove some of the structure from the elevator that the Astrotower was,” said Buildings Department Commissioner Robert LiMandri. “When you do that, you decrease the weight at the top, and so therefore, you would get additional sway. At no time did any of those contractors or engineers identify that that would be a problem, and they went forward and did that.”

Sources in Coney Island tell ATZ a “compromise plan” has been reached to take off the top of the tower overnight. It will be death by decapitation for the Astrotower (a terrible thing) so that the parks and businesses east of 12th Street, which were closed and evacuated, will be able to open on the Fourth of July (a good thing). Somebody please wake us up from this nightmare.

Update: July 4, 2013, 3:11PM… The top of the Astrotower was removed, a more than 12-hour operation that enabled Luna Park, the Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and concessions in the immediate area to reopen at 3 PM on the 4th of July. That night, the businesses, which would ordinarily stay open till 2AM on Fourth of July were ordered to close at 12:30 AM so that the demolition could continue.

Update: July 5, 2013, 8:45PM… Overnight and in the morning, demolition work on the Astrotower continued. By the time work stopped around 1:30PM, the tower had been cut down to 1/3 of its original height, which was 275 feet. The work is expected to continue tonight after the park closes for business.

Update: July 5, 2013, 8:45PM… Overnight and in the morning, demolition work on the Astrotower continued. By the time work stopped around 1:30PM, the tower had been cut down to 1/3 of its original height, which was 275 feet. The work is expected to continue tonight after the park closes for business.

Update: July 7, 2013. All that remains of the tower is the AstroStump also known as the LunaStump.

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

March 11, 2013: Luna Park’s Pinwheels Go Up on Coney Island Boardwalk

September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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Luna Park Boardwalk Gate

Luna Park Boardwalk Gate Under Construction. March 10, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

On Sunday afternoon, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy captured this gorgeous image of the last pinwheel and crescent moon of Luna Park’s new Boardwalk gate being lifted into place. The gate takes its inspiration from the one on Surf Avenue, which was built three years ago and pays homage to the original Luna Park’s 1903 gate. The smaller, more delicate boardwalk entryway boasts the additional flourish of golden pennants and promises a brighter, more dazzling summer in Coney Island.

Do you notice anything else different in the photo below?

Luna Park Boardwalk Gate

Luna Park Boardwalk Gate Under Construction. March 10, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The cars will be put back up on Deno’s Wonder Wheel in plenty of time for March 24th’s Opening Day — the cars are taken down during the off-season for maintenance. What’s different in the photo is the appearance of the Astro Tower. Earlier this month, the cab was removed from the Tower, which has been standing but not operating since 2008. Word on the Boardwalk is the former ride will be painted and illuminated. Ever since Luna Park was built on the Astroland site in April 2010, there’s been talk of Zamperla re-purposing the Tower as signage or possibly restoring it as a ride. Since nothing was done, the 270-foot observation tower got rusty and began to look like a neglected orphan amid the glittering new rides on the skyline. Last September, after the Tower was relit for the first time since Astroland closed, Luna Park confirmed via their Facebook page that it “will provide Coney Island with a spectacular, night-time extravaganza,” but will not be reactivated as a ride.

UPDATE 3:00 pm

We’d heard rumors that the Astro Tower’s cab, also known as “The Bagel in Sky,” had been damaged by Sandy. Luna Park just emailed us the following update: “Coney Island’s Astrotower suffered structural damage during Super Storm Sandy. The restoration process of the Tower is underway, with affected parts, including the gondola, having been removed to ensure its stability and safety. Part of the tower’s rehabilitation will include a new, energy-efficient lighting package that will be programmable to match other lighting installations at Luna Park.”

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

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

May 23, 2010: Luna Park Coney Island’s Pinwheel & Moon Gate Takes Shape!

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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Astrotower Luna Park Gate

Illuminated Astrotower and Luna Park Gate, Coney Island. September 27, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy

Last night, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy was surprised to see a sight that hasn’t been seen since Astroland Park closed forever on September 7, 2008. The Astrotower, which has been standing but not operating since before the park closed, was illuminated. It makes us happy to see it lit! Bruce speculates that Luna Park technicians were testing the electrical hookup for future lighting of the tower. We wonder if they will light it for the park’s Halloween Horror Nights, which begin in mid-October. In the close-up shot below you can see they are using the bare bulbs that originally lit the tower and have not installed LEDs. Why has it taken so long?

Astrotower

Closeup of illuminated Astrotower. September 27, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy

Ever since Luna Park was built on the former Astroland site in April 2010, there’s been talk of Zamperla repurposing the tower as signage or possibly restoring it as a ride. Since nothing was done, the 270-foot observation tower got rusty and started to look like a neglected stepchild amid the glittering new rides on the skyline. Earlier this month, when a similar tower at Cedar Point was imploded, a fan on Luna Park’s Facebook page asked if the Astrotower would have the same fate. The answer was reassuring: “The Astrotower is going to stay up for posterity,” according to an official post on Luna Park’s Facebook. “It’s an historic ride. Luna Park will re-paint the ride, but it will no longer take guests up to give them views of Coney Island.”

According to the Coney Island History Project, the $1.7 million Astrotower was manufactured by the Swiss company Von Roll and installed in 1964. “It required a foundation of 1,100 tons of concrete and 13 tons of steel reinforcing bars. Like Astroland’s other space-age themed rides, the tower was built specifically for the park.” The Municipal Art Society and Save Coney Island have said the structure is eligible for the State and National Registers. We’d love to be able to ride the Astrotower once again. If that’s not in the stars, let’s hope it will be refurbished and illuminated like Steeplechase Park survivor the Parachute Jump.

UPDATE September 29, 2012

This evening, Luna Park confirmed on their Facebook page that the tower will be illuminated, but not reactivated as a ride. “Our electricians are testing the lighting system as we finalize plans to paint and rewire parts of the tower. The Astrotower will not operate as a ride – instead it will provide Coney Island with a spectacular, night-time extravaganza. Look to the Coney Island skies for some exciting new developments in 2013…”

It’s great news that the once proud and now forlorn looking tower will be a bright spot on the skyline of the new Coney Island. The painted and illuminated Astrotower will compliment the bling-y lights promised for the Parachute Jump in Steeplechase Plaza, which is set to open next season.

At the same time, we’re not buying the statement that “The Astrotower will not operate as a ride.” Perhaps it should be qualified with the two words “in 2013”? It’s hard to believe that Zamperla, one of the world’s largest ride manufacturers, can’t come up with a plan to reactivate the tower as a ride. Is it a matter of money or current priorities? In 2014, the tower will be 50 years old. The only question is when the Luna Park Astrotower opens, will the Zamperlas be serving bagels and lox as Jerry Albert did when the ride known as the bagel in the sky because of its circular car debuted in Astroland?

Astrotower

Astrotower and landmark Wonder Wheel, Coney Island. September 27, 2012. Photo © Bruce Handy

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

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

April 14, 2012: Astroland Bumper Cars Return Home to Coney Island

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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If you think “Ciao” means only hello or goodbye, we have news for you:  In NYCEDC (New York Economic Development Corporation) acronymese, CIAO stands for Coney Island Amusement Operator in the RFP (Request for Proposals) for a 10 year lease of the City’s newly purchased 6.9 acres in the People’s Playground. Today is the deadline for responses to the RFP and we’re set to be thrilled by the zillion dollar ride line up of the decade! Our guess is the successful bidder will be a team that not only has experience in park operations but also includes a top carnival  and a ride manufacturer with coaster creds.  Oh, and did we mention access to capital? But don’t expect to find out who gets to put in Coney Island’s interim midway–it’s the equivalent of a mega state fair contract– until early 2010.

In the meantime, ATZ took a look at some of the questions potential CIAO’s have asked about the RFP and Coney Island in general, and the NYCEDC’s replies, for clues to the future. Will the oldies but goodies in the City owned Boardwalk properties like Ruby’s, Cha Cha’s, Shoot the Freak and the historic Astrotower get a new 10 year lease on life? Or will it be out with the old, in with the new starting in 2011?

View from Cha Chas

Coney Island, View from Cha Cha's Rooftop on Siren Day 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Free Rent In Coney Island?!

The full set of Q & A’s posted on the RFP site covered necessary stuff like electrical power to the sites, restrooms, lighting, fencing, security and rubbish removal, all of which the CIAO is expected to provide in addition to the rides and attractions. The site turnover date is April 15, 2010, leaving the operator only 6 weeks till Memorial Day to install everything and obtain the necessary permits and inspections. In 2010, the City will spend $2.2 million out of a total of $6.6 million in public funds on site improvements. What about the rent?

Q:  In the RFP, you mentioned terms including “free rent” and percentages.  Can you explain what is meant by these terms?

A:  Given the compressed timeline and the intermediate lease term offered, NYCEDC intends to be as flexible as possible in accommodating the needs of the operator.  Therefore, a variety of rent schedules and structures, which may or may not include percentage rent, base rent or free rent, will be considered.

Lotsa Interest in the Boardwalk Businesses

More revealing about the shape of things to come in Coney are the Q & A’s about the Boardwalk businesses, the Astrotower, and even the Astroland Rocket.

Q: What businesses are located on the Boardwalk? Do you have contact information?

A: The businesses currently located on the Boardwalk within the boundaries of Parcels A, B, and C are, from East to West: Paul’s Daughter, Pio Pio Rico, Gyro Corner, Coney Island Souvenirs, Ruby’s Bar and Grill, Shoot the Freak, Cha-Cha’s, Nathan’s Famous, Beer Island. Additional information for businesses in Coney Island can be found at www.coneyislandfunguide.com.

Ruby's Bar & Grill

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

The City has already offered one year leases for 2010 to the mom-and-pop businesses occupying the Boardwalk property formerly owned by Thor Equities. Lola Staar Boutique, which was evicted by Thor, was asked to return as well. But will they be back in 2011? It’s clear from the Q & A’s that some of the potential CIAO’s are very interested in the revenue generating potential of the bars and the Boardwalk property. It would be a sorry day if Coney Island mainstays Ruby’s, Cha Cha’s, Shoot the Freak and the other small businesses are “pratted out” (as we say in the carnival biz) after having survived the dark days of Thor.

Before the RFP release, Shoot the Freak’s Anthony Berlingieri made headlines when he appeared at the City’s press conference on the land buy and posed the question directly to Mayor Bloomberg: “Is there a place for us?” NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky gave a diplomatic reply: “Our intention is for the foreseeable future to keep all the tenants in place, certainly through next summer. And we’re going to be looking to work with each of you to figure out where it makes sense for the various tenants to remain as we build out the amusement park.”

More from the Coney Island RFP Q & A’s related to Boardwalk Businesses

Q: What is going to happen with the Boardwalk tenants in both the short term and throughout the lease period? Can responses to the RFP include those businesses and the space along the boardwalk?

A: For Year 1 of operations (the Summer 2010 season), NYCEDC intends to enter into one-year licenses directly with the Boardwalk businesses. Beginning in Year 2 of operations, Respondents may propose to include or exclude these businesses and structures from their proposals.

Q: What is the current rent from these tenants?

A: While we cannot share information on individual licenses at this time, we can report that in the past, the gross potential rent for the Boardwalk tenants was approximately $750,000 to $900,000.

Shoot the Freak

Shoot the Freak on Fourth of July. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Q: Do the Boardwalk tenants have liquor licenses? Do these remain with the tenant or the structure?

A: Several of the businesses on the Boardwalk maintain liquor licenses with the New York State Liquor Authority (“SLA”). Most of the active licenses are seasonal (for a term of seven months) and are renewed annually. The process for the “transfer” of a license at an existing premises to a new business as well as other details regarding liquor licenses is available at the website of the SLA: http://www.abc.state.ny.us.

Q: Can the Boardwalk businesses make use of the Boardwalk?

A: Yes, businesses are generally permitted to occupy approximately 20 feet of the Boardwalk in front of the business premises with tables and chairs. Such use of the Boardwalk requires approval by and an annual fee paid to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

According to the Coney Island RFP, “Responses to this RFP should articulate whether they include or exclude these structures or footprints, beginning at the earliest in Year 2 of operations.”  But it also says “The Selected Respondent may propose to include subtenants for portions of their proposed operations, but such subtenants, and such subtenant agreements, shall be subject to NYCEDC approval.”  In other words, the City, which owns the property, has final say over which businesses come or go.

While the RFP encourages a plan for Minority/Women Business Enterprises (M/WBE) and local hiring, there’s no mention of protection for small businesses in general. In fact, the buildings could be demolished and the tenants displaced. Will the Boardwalk end up looking like the rest of New York City–out with the mom and pops, in with the formula businesses and chain restaurants? We hope not. But the Bloomberg adminstration’s opposition to Councilman Jackson’s proposed Small Business Survival Act, which has enough support to pass in the City Council, does not make us feel optimistic.

Astrotower. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Astrotower. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Astrotower

Despite the closing of Astroland and the fact that the Astrotower hasn’t operated as a ride for two years, Bruce Handy‘s photo gives us a hopeful feeling. We can imagine buds and then leaves on the tree and the Tower still standing tall. The Municipal Art Society and Save Coney Island say the structure is eligible for the State and National Registers. We hope the Astrotower will be a survivor like Steeplechase’s Parachute Jump.

Q: What are the future plans for the Astrotower? Could the operator choose to reactivate the Astrotower? Could the operator choose to remove the Astrotower from the site?

A: Respondents should include in their proposal how they will address the Astrotower. Reactivating the tower or removing it are both among the potential options.

Q: Do you have any drawings of the Astrotower? Can NYCEDC provide dimensions? Can NYCEDC provide the name of the manufacturer?

A. It is our understanding that the Astrotower was manufactured by the Swiss company Von Roll and installed in 1964. Von Roll was purchased by Doppelmayr Garaventa Group (www.doppelmayrctec.com) in 1996. The tower is approximately 260’ high.

Astroland Rocket

Jan 28, 2009 - Astroland Rocket in Aquarium Parking Lot ready to Go to Homeport Storage facility in Staten Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/Coney Island History Project

Astroland Rocket

When we look at this photo of the Rocket with the Cyclone, Tower and Wonder Wheel in the background, we can just imagine how wonderful it will be when the Rocket rejoins these landmarks in the new Coney Island. We hope the Tower will be there too!

Q: The City saved the Astroland Rocket last year. Will it return as a part of the new amusement park?

A: The City of New York accepted a donation in January 2009 of the Astroland Rocket, a 71-foot long 12,000 pound rocket ship flight simulator that was among the original rides at Astroland when the park opened in the 1960s. The Rocket is currently in an NYCEDC storage facility. NYCEDC anticipates discussing potential locations for the Rocket with the Selected Respondent following designation, although Respondents are welcome to propose a use for the Rocket in their proposals if they so choose.

The potential CIAO’s also had questions about adjacent property, asking for contact information  for “the owner of the lot immediately to the East of Keyspan Park” (Horace Bullard) and the “owner of the lots immediately north of Parcels B and C, south of the Bowery” (Thor Equities). If we’re lucky, the spillover of applicants for the RFP will fill Sitt’s and Bullard’s empty lots with amusements this summer.

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November 25, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Island Shines at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Vegas

November 23, 2009: The Contenders from A to Z: Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP

May 29, 2009: At Cha-Cha’s of Coney Island, Squidling Rhymes with Ringling

May 17, 2009: Joe Sitt’s No Show Rides

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