Posts Tagged ‘Demolition by Neglect’

Shore Theater

Coney Island’s Shore Theater in the days after Hurricane Sandy. November 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Can the Shore Theater, vacant for 40 years and designated a New York City landmark in 2010, be saved? On Monday, a group of people armed with bolt cutters cut the locks on a side door and went inside to find out. Sources on the scene told ATZ that one member of the group claimed they plan to buy and rehab the property as a hotel, restaurant and retail and need to find out if it is salvageable or beyond repair. Accompanying them was Kelly Floropoulos of Amiantos Environmental, whose firm does environmental site assessments. Reached by phone, Ms. Floropoulos told ATZ, “I can’t disclose any information. We’re still in the preliminary stages of assessment. It will take a few weeks.”

Shore Theater

Homeless encampment under the sidewalk shed at the Shore Theater. July 30, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

When the building was about to win landmark designation in 2010, we wrote “March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect” (March 8, 2010). However, five more years of neglect have followed. A sampling of complaints to the DOB since then has included homeless encampment residing on a regular basis on the sidewalk shed and inside the building accessing by a ladder, safety concerns for the homeless as well as the public, windows unboarded, doors ripped, scaffold area is dark and unmaintained, falling debris.

The mystery buyer said he was one of the owners of the lot on the north side of Surf across from the Cyclone. A phone call to PYE Properties, which has a sign up advertising Coming Soon Retail Stores for Rent on the undeveloped lot, yielded no additional info. “I don’t know what you’re referring to,” said a spokeswoman. “Call back in a month.”

Shore Theater

Shore Theater. June 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

September 29, 2015: Will 1938 Art Moderne Gem Become Coney Island’s Only Landmark Outside of Amusement Area?

May 4, 2015: Boardwalk Bunco: Milan Expo’s USA Pavilion Has Boardwalk from Coney Island, Brooklyn to Get Plastic & Concrete

March 11, 2015: In Coney Island, Two Stores and One NYC Landmark Mark 95th Year

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

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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

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Flood at Henderson Building. Oct 6, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Flood at Henderson Building. Oct 6, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Update….Bruce Handy sent us the above photo and a link to a set of photos and a video of the water pouring out of the Henderson Building taken today, October 6th at 5 pm. Don’t miss the vid! The set also shows the Grashorn Building, Coney’s oldest, which had its locks cut and is now vulnerable to trespassers. Thor Equities desecration of their property in Coney Island continues unchallenged by City agencies. Please note that these buildings had tenants and were not vacant or derelict until Joe Sitt bought the property and emptied them of tenants.

October 6, 7 pm…Thor finally sent somebody over to turn off the flood in the Henderson Bldg. How come they don’t send a thank you note to everyone who looked out for their property?!

October 7, 10:45 am…Scaffolding is going up around the Henderson in preparation for the demolition.


Calling all photographers! We’re saving a spot at the top of this post for the first, best or only photo of this developing news story: More than 24 hours ago Dick Zigun, director of Coney Island USA, posted on the Coney Island Message Board: “At this moment (October 5th at noon) water from a broken pipe is pouring out of the second story hotel section of Henderson’s into Henderson’s Walk, below. Maybe the idea is to get the building to collapse on it’s own?” The water is still pouring down.

ATZ made a few phone calls yesterday and learned that Sam Sabin of Thor Equities, the owner of the Henderson Building, had been notified of the situation. He was alerted again today.

Flood at Henderson Building. Oct 6, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Flood at Henderson Building. Oct 6, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

On the CIUSA board, Dick speculated that scavengers got into the building and ripped out the copper pipes for salvage. This wouldn’t surprise us since the building was unsecured after undergoing asbestos abatement and under the radar pre-demolition.

If the water keeps pouring down, the wall could collapse and the building declared unsafe and have to be demolished, regardless of whether a demolition permit was issued in the first place. According to CB 13, the DOB said a demolition permit had been issued. But no one was working in the building last week.. Demolition by Neglect? You decide….

New York City has a Demolition by Neglect law, but we could not locate its web page via Google. Hello? It’s worth noting the law was authored by former City Councilman Tony Avella, who is now running for State Senate. We found a handy definition on the City of New Orleans website:

Specific criteria for the determination of Demolition by Neglect are as follows:

* The deterioration of a building to the extent that it creates or permits a hazardous or unsafe condition as determined by the Department of Safety and Permits.

* The deterioration of a building(s) characterized by one or more of the following: a. Those buildings which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure members of the public or property; b. Deteriorated or inadequate foundation; c. Defective or deteriorated floor supports or floor supports insufficient to carry imposed loads with safety; d. Members of walls, or other vertical supports that split, lean, list, or buckle due to defective material or deterioration; e. Members of walls or other vertical supports that are insufficient to carry imposed loads with safety; f. Members of ceiling, roofs, ceiling and roof supports, or other horizontal members which sag, split, or buckle due to defective material or deterioration; g. Members of ceiling, roofs, ceiling and roof supports, or other horizontal members that are insufficient to carry imposed loads with safety; h. Fireplaces or chimneys which list, bulge, or settle due to defective material or deterioration; i. Any fault, defect, or condition in the building which renders the same structurally unsafe or not properly watertight.

* Action by the City, the State Fire Marshall, or the Department of Safety and Permits relative to the safety or physical condition of any building.

The Henderson Building has already suffered so much damage from the “pre demolition,” it’s like watching an old person being slowly tortured to death. Save Coney Island, which has proposed re-purposing the building, might as well go ahead and start planning a New Orleans style funeral for the Henderson Music Hall right now.

Send photos to hello[AT]triciavita.com

Related posts on ATZ…

September 23, 2010: Demolition in Progress! Coney Island’s Surf Hotel in Henderson Building

July 1, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Demolition Under the Radar?

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

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings


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