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Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. November 23, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. November 23, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

R.I.P. Bank of Coney Island (1923-2010)

Eternal memory. Eternal memory. Grant to this demolished piece of Coney Island history, O Lord, blessed repose and eternal memory.

Thanks again to Eric Kowalsky for his excellent photo documentation of the Bank of Coney Island. For more info on the building, see “Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then” (ATZ, October 14, 2010) and “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island” (ATZ, October 9, 2009).

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 29, 2010: Photos from the Demolition: Knocked Out Wall at Bank of Coney Island

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

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

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Bank of Coney Island Demolition. November 7, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. November 7, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Last week’s shocking news of the eviction of 9 Boardwalk mom-and-pop businesses by Luna Park operator Central Amusement International stole the spotlight from Thor Equities’ ongoing demolition on Surf Avenue. Some folks asked to be told when the heavy machinery arrived at the Bank of Coney Island. Well, it’s here and has been doing its dirty work..

The roof and part of the back wall of the building were taken out last week. Now you can see right through to the sky and the Wonder Wheel. In these photos by Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, the bulldozer is parked inside the doomed building, which is shrouded in black demolition netting and scaffolding. Get ready for another funeral.

Check out photo blogger Single Linds Reflex stunning pix from inside the building. A construction worker allowed her and another photographer to take a peek inside yesterday! The worker told them it would take about 2 weeks to completely demolish the building. More photos on Single Linds Reflex’s flickr page.

For more info on the building, see “Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then” (ATZ, October 14, 2010) and “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island” (ATZ, October 9, 2009).

Bank of Coney Island Shrouded in Demolition Netting. November 7, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Shrouded in Demolition Netting. November 7, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 14, 2010: Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

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

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 28, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 28, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

On Thursday, the attack of the jackhammers began after Verizon finished removing phone lines for the area from the roof of the doomed Bank of Coney Island building. Photographer Eric Kowalsky has been valiantly documenting the demolition-in-progress. In the photo below, which was taken on Tuesday, Thor’s gang finish putting up the demolition scaffolding.

For more info on the building, see “Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then” (ATZ, October 14, 2010) and “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island” (ATZ, October 9, 2009).

Demolition Scaffolding at Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 26, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Demolition Scaffolding at Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 26, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Related posts on ATZ…

October 20, 2010: Joe Sitt’s Gang Punches Holes in Bank of Coney Island Building

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

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

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 21, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 21, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Last week, the doomed Bank of Coney Island had holes punched in its wall by Joe Sitt’s demo men in prep for the installation of demolition scaffolding. The northeast corner of West 12th and Bowery has taken on the brutal look of a torture chamber. The victim is the 87-year-old building itself, the first of four historic buildings in Coney Island marked for demolition by Thor Equities.

As we wrote in “Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then” (Oct 14, 2010):

Shame on Thor Equities for not even responding to the written pleas of individuals and organizations to re-purpose the building or at least save the facade. Shame on the City of New York for sacrificing the building by rezoning the parcel for a 30-story high rise in July 2009.

Real estate speculator Joe Sitt bought the Bank of Coney Island building in 2005 for $3 million and kept it vacant. ATZ knows at least two potential tenants whose proposals for leasing and rehabbing the building went nowhere. Alas, Joe Sitt’s price to lease the property– $500,000– was too steep. Perhaps Thor did not want to be encumbered by tenants or leases because the building was marked for demolition from the moment it was purchased?

Bank of Coney Island Demolition Scaffolding. October 25, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition Scaffolding. October 25, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Thanks to Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy for documenting this unfortunate situation in his flickr set. “They built the scaffolding on the West 12th Street side today,” says Bruce, who notes that the police stopped to ask a passersby what was written on the permits posted on the wall. Though the signs are newly posted, what they have to say is not news: the Department of Buildings issued the demolition permit on August 13.

During Thor Equities’ 40 days of demolition, ATZ will continue to post documentary photos. Help us keep this disgraceful demo in the public eye by sending newsworthy pix and info to hello[AT]triciavita[DOT]com. Hey, maybe a sympathetic insider will send us a photo from inside the torture chamber! Be careful…

It's official: the City of NY approves the demolition. October 25, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

It's official: the City of NY approves the demolition. October 25, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

October 20, 2010: Joe Sitt’s Gang Punches Holes in Bank of Coney Island Building

October 14, 2010: Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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Joe Sitt's Demolition Crew Punched Holes in the Bank of Coney Island's south wall. October 18, 2010.  Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Joe Sitt's Demolition Crew Punched Holes in the Bank of Coney Island's south wall. October 18, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

On Monday at 2 pm, “Mayor” Dick Zigun sounded the alarm on the Coney Island Message Board: “They have just started to punch holes in the Bank of Coney Island building’s south wall, facing the Bowery. The holes are being punched out from the inside via drills and jack hammers. Earlier today they erected scaffolding along the north and east facades.”

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 18, 2010.  Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Bank of Coney Island Demolition October 18, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Coney Island photographers Eric Kowalsky and Bruce Handy have been documenting the demolition for the past two days. They’re made of strong stuff. We’ve put off posting the images because it was painful to see this 87-year-old building having holes– first two and three, and now eleven– punched through its walls. We know a building is not a human being, but this is torture. The building looks as if it faced a firing squad and is a dead man standing.

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 18, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

A poster on the Coney Island board claims that the holes are for shoring up the upper part of brick wall while they build the scaffolding from the inside, so as not to disturb what’s left of the fire-damaged arcade next door. But the bank building was built to last and isn’t going to come down easily. On the first and second day of Joe Sitt’s 40 Days of Demolition, the worst is yet to come.

ATZ promised to live-tweet the demo to keep Sitt’s ongoing desecration of Coney Island in the public eye. But we have no idea how we’re going to weather the ordeal if the first two holes in a wall look like wounds to us. If we could have picked one building to save, the Bank of Coney Island would have been the one. For more info, read “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island,” (ATZ, October 9, 2009).

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 14, 2010: Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

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

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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Bank of Coney Island with Demolition Scaffolding. October 13, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Doomed Bank of Coney Island with Demolition Scaffolding. October 13, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

On Wednesday, demolition scaffolding was erected around Thor Equities-owned Bank of Coney Island on 12th Street at Surf Avenue. In Eric Kowalsky’s stunning photo, the long, black boards resemble a coffin for the doomed bank. A demolition permit has been issued and the work is expected to be finished within 40 days.

ATZ has already spent–some would say wasted–considerable time advocating for the preservation of this building. “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island” was posted over a year ago on October 9, 2009. Nothing whatsoever has changed since then. A few weeks ago, Save Coney Island’s splendid rendering of the building re-imagined as the “Banker’s Ballroom” was a hit in the blogosphere. But it was a quixotic effort because real estate speculator Joe Sitt never gave it the time of day. Shame on Thor Equities for not even responding to the written pleas of individuals and organizations to re-purpose the building or at least save the facade. Shame on the City of New York for sacrificing the building by rezoning the parcel for a 30-story high rise in July 2009.

In the lovely archival photo below sent to us by historian Charles Denson, the Bank of Coney Island is a branch of Banker’s Trust (1928-1950). The bank was later sold to Manufacturer’s Hanover. In December 1987, the branch closed and the property was offered for sale, with a minimum acceptable bid of $225,000, all cash. The building has remained vacant since real estate speculator Joe Sitt bought the Bank of Coney Island building in 2005 for $3 million.

Bank of Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson Archive

Bank of Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson Archive

Related posts on ATZ…

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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Historian Charles Denson, author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, shot this video of the Faber’s Fascination sign on September 9th and 10th. An employee of the arcade lit up the Faber’s sign one last time before all of the letters were removed from the facade. As ATZ reported last week, the arcade, which has been in the Henderson Building since the 1930s, closed on Labor Day 2010.

Denson says in the video’s intro: “The iconic sign was the last remaining example of Coney’s bare bulb Electric Eden illumination that began with Luna Park in 1903. It is also the latest victim of predatory real-estate developer Thor Equities’ self-described summer of demolition, spurred on by the City’s rezoning of the site for a 30-story high-rise hotel that will most likely never be built. These images are from the sign’s last night of illumination.”

In “Four Coney Buildings to Fall,” Friday’s Story of the Day on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website, Denson cited the new Luna Park and the rehab of the Parachute Jump as the kind of direction we should keep going in. “Coney Island is really down to a handful of what you could call ‘landmark’ buildings,” Denson said in the article. “It would be good if Thor Equities would at least save one of them.”

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years

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

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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