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Call to Action: Rally for Preservation on Wednesday, May 12

WHEN: Wednesday, May 12th at 10am SHARP

WHERE: City Hall Steps – 4,5,6, N or R Trains to City Hall

Tomorrow morning, Save Coney Island joins the Historic Districts Council and other preservation groups at a citywide rally at City Hall.

“Save Coney Island believes this summer should be about REVITALIZATION (with the opening of the new Luna Park) and PRESERVATION – NOT about “DEMOLITION,” said an e-mail from the grass-roots group. “Please join us. This will be a perfect opportunity to put Coney Island’s preservation battle in the citywide spotlight. We need you to make your voice heard.”

ATZ is sorry that rumors of Joe Sitt’s plans to demolish historic buildings which we reported in “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010) have turned out to be true. On May 3, Thor Equities spokes-tool Loren Riegelhaupt told the Brooklyn Paper: “This summer is going to be about the demolition.” The reference is to the planned demo of four historic buildings in Coney Island owned by Joe Sitt.

Shore Hotel Nature's Paradise by the Sea. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shore Hotel Nature's Paradise by the Sea. April 26, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The endangered buildings are the Grashorn, Coney Island’s oldest; the former Bank of Coney Island; the Henderson Building; and the Shore Hotel. The Grashorn and Henderson were nominated for landmark designation by Coney Island USA and all four buildings would be part of an historic district proposed by Save Coney Island. Stefan Friedman, another Thor spokes-tool, told the paper: “These buildings were thoroughly reviewed by the city [before] last year’s rezoning and determined to have no significant historic value whatsoever. Some of these buildings are asbestos-infested ramshackle buildings that pose a very real risk to the local community.”

We’ll counter Thor’s disinformation campaign by referring you to “Destined for Demolition? Historic Buildings Owned By Thor Equities” in the right column of our blog for articles by the Municipal Art Society, Vanishing New York and ATZ on the four buildings in question and Save Coney’s list of historic landmarks. As for Thor’s empty lots, check out “Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt”

The Historic Districts Council is hosting the rally…

We will be having speakers from neighborhoods across the city talking about their efforts and giving voice to the fact that people want preservation. For the past four years, HDC has helped organize a preservation day at City Hall that dozens of neighborhood preservationists have attended to show the strength of the preservation community. Through our efforts, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has grown in staff and has designated more properties in all five boroughs than ever – they designated more properties in 2008 than they had in any year since 1990. This record of accomplishment needs to continue; dozens of historic neighborhoods throughout New York City are still unprotected and prey to tear-downs and unregulated development. If we’ve learned one thing in 45 years of preservation practice in New York, it’s that landmark protection is good for the city. Without landmark protection, SoHo and Tribeca wouldn’t exist, the theater district would be an office park and Brooklyn Heights would be filled with high-rises. But as much as the LPC has accomplished, there’s still much more to do.

Coney Island’s Shore Theater and Coney Island USA’s Building (the former Childs Restaurant on Surf Avenue) are being considered for landmark designation by the LPC.

Thor-owned Henderson Building Being Cleaned Out, May 8, 2010. Photo © Capt. Nemo/Magical Theme Parks

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 29, 2010: Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall

April 29, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!

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

January 8, 2010: Coney Island 2010: Good Riddance to Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Hello Rides?

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