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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Kowalsky’

Zamperla Coaster

On Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Zamperla Coaster Rises on Skyline. January 31, 2011. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Coney Island photographer Eric Kowalsky, who valiantly documented Thor Equities’ demolition of the Henderson Music Hall and the Bank of Coney, finally got to take some photos of construction on Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue on Monday. Amid the snow, sleet and ice pellets, construction crews for Central Amusement International are putting up Zamperla’s flying coaster. The blue steel supports for the Scream Zone’s Soaring Eagle joined Deno’s Wonder Wheel, the Astrotower and the Cyclone on the skyline.

Back in October, ATZ got a first look at renderings of the four rides set to open at Luna Park’s new Scream Zone in April. Two of the rides are Zamperla coasters: the American Eagle-themed Volare flying coaster and the Steeplechase horse-themed MotoCoaster (ATZ: Coney Island 2011: Zamperla Adding Steeplechase Cavalry Coaster to Scream Zone, October 4, 2010)

Scream Zone will also feature Zamperla’s Turbo Force and a SlingShot high thrill ride from Funtime. The newly re-themed Soaring Eagle was relocated from Denver’s Elitch Gardens, where it made its debut as the Volare, which means “to fly” in Italian, in 2002. The supports and track for the flying coaster arrived in Coney Island in November. New cars and a new computer operating system are being manufactured for the ride by Zamperla. Ride experts say the two coasters will go up very quickly, but the other two rides require deep foundation work. This year Palm Sunday, Coney Island’s traditional opening day of the season, falls on April 17. The date is just 75 days away!

Zamperla/CAI has a ten-year lease to operate amusements on the 6.9 acres the City bought for $95.6 million from Thor Equities. Zamperla’s Scream Zone will be located on City-owned parcels at Stillwell and the Boardwalk.

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November 11, 2010: First Pieces of Zamperla Flying Coaster Arrive at Coney Island’s Future Scream Zone

October 4, 2010: Coney Island 2011: Zamperla Adding Steeplechase Cavalry Coaster to Scream Zone

April 28, 2010: New Coney Island Coaster Pays Homage to Luna Park’s 1906 Tickler

February 15, 2010: Steeplechase Express: Will Zamperla MotoCoaster Pony Up for Coney Island?

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demolition

Thor Equities Demolition of the Henderson Building. January 5, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Coney Island photographer Eric Kowalsky, who documented the demolition of the Bank of Coney Island in November, has eloquently captured the destruction-in-progress of the historic Henderson Music Hall in this series of images.

Eric put his camera through the gate on Henderson Walk to take the above photo of the crushed remains of part of the Henderson Building formerly occupied by Faber’s Fascination. “They took the front and side of the building down. The Bowery is still standing,” he said this morning.

demolition

Thor Equities Demolition of the Henderson Building. January 5, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Last week we posted historian Charles Denson’s video tribute to the Henderson Theater. As we previously noted, the City aided and abetted Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt by rezoning the Henderson parcel for a high rise hotel. There are however no immediate plans to build a hotel on the site. The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission denied landmark designation and also declined to create a historic district, which would have created tax incentives to rehab the building.

demolition

Thor Equities Demolition of the Henderson Building. January 5, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

The Henderson Building is the first sight you see on Surf Avenue when you step out of Stillwell Terminal. It is at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues. We should probably use the past tense, though the demolition is still underway. The first sight you see when you step out of Stillwell will soon be another empty lot to add to Joe Sitt’s collection of empty lots.

demolition

Thor Equities Demolition of the Henderson Building. January 5, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

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September 29, 2010: Saved or Not? Signs from Coney Island’s Henderson Building

September 24, 2010: Coney Island Cat Is Last Tenant of Henderson Building

September 12, 2010: Video: Coney Island’s Faber’s Fascination by Charles Denson

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

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Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Shore Hotel, Coney Island. December 10, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Shore Hotel, Coney Island. December 10, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Coney Island’s Shore Hotel was built circa 1903 and demolished by Thor Equities on December 10, 2010. It took only a couple of days for the demo men to take down the century-old wood frame building. There’s nothing left but a pile of sticks to be hauled away. Vanishing New York’s post from August 2009, which we linked to on Friday could serve as its epitaph.

In the post-demolition photo below taken on Saturday, Surf Avenue looks like a dowager with a tooth knocked out. Demolition is also underway at the Henderson Building, seen on the right hand side of the photo. The buildings on the left–the Eldorado Bumper Cars and the Popper Building–are NOT owned by Thor Equities and are NOT endangered.

View of Surf Avenue after the Demolition of the Shore Hotel. December 11, 2010.  Photo by Anonymouse

View of Surf Avenue after the Demolition of the Shore Hotel. December 11, 2010. Photo by Anonymouse

Last week photographer Lindsay Wengler took this photo of workers putting demolition scaffolding to the top of the former Henderson Music Hall. The building, which is at the corner of Surf and Stillwell across from Nathan’s, is next on Thor’s hit list of historic properties. You can see more pix from the set on the photoblog Single Linds Reflex.

Demolition Scaffolding at Thor-Owned Henderson Building. December 9, 2010. Photo © Lindsay Wengler/Single Linds Reflex via flickr

Demolition Scaffolding at Thor-Owned Henderson Building. December 9, 2010. Photo © Lindsay Wengler/Single Linds Reflex via flickr

UPDATE… Why Weren’t These Buildings Saved?

We’ve received a few emails asking why these historic buildings were not saved. The short answer is these Thor-owned properties were rezoned for high-rise hotels by the City in July 2009. The long answer is the effort to save these buildings goes back to 2004, when Coney Island USA received a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund to “protect the legacy of old Coney Island” and nominated six buildings for landmark designation. But the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission dragged its feet and would not calendar any of the buildings until 2010, months after the lots had been rezoned. Of the nominated buildings, only two–the Childs Restaurant (owned by CIUSA) and the Shore Theater (owned by Horace Bullard)– are under consideration for landmark designation.

The Municipal Art Society had the Shore Hotel and the Henderson Building on their list of seven to save in Coney Island when MAS testified at a City Planning hearing on the rezoning in May 2009. Among the other structures identified by Coney Island USA, MAS and Save Coney Island were Nathan’s Famous, Childs Restaurant (CIUSA Building), the Grashorn Building, the Bank of Coney Island and the Shore Theater. “Under the NYC Landmarks Law, structures can be designated as landmarks for architectural, historical and cultural reasons,” said MAS’s Lisa Kersavage in her testimony. “Although some of these structures have been altered over the years, their ties to the legendary Coney Island of the past gives them a cultural significance that should be recognized and protected.” The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission denied landmark designation and also declined to create a historic district, which would have created tax incentives to rehab the buildings.

After the Demolition of the Bank Building, Coney Island. December 9, 2010. Photo © Lindsay Wengler/Single Linds Reflex via flickr

After the Demolition of the Bank Building, Coney Island. December 9, 2010. Photo © Lindsay Wengler/Single Linds Reflex via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

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

July 7, 2009: Tall, Skinny & Destined to Kill Coney Island: High Rises on South Side of Surf

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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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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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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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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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