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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Sitt’

flea market

The BK Festival brings Aqueduct Flea Vendors in Coney Island. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The BK Festival featuring displaced Aqueduct flea market vendors opened for the first time on Saturday in Coney Island. The new flea market is located on Thor Equities Stillwell property adjacent to Scream Zone and Nathan’s, site of Thor’s Flea by the Sea in 2009. Check out our flickr slide show. We took pix of everything that was there, to be fair and square. Unfortunately the opening day event was dismal. It was not in any way “like a state fair,” as hyped by the BK Festival management in advertisements, nor did it feature “upscale product,” as hyped by the New York Times in a puff piece on Joe Sitt. Not surprised. Just sayin’.

Like Thor’s “Festival by the Sea,” the new flea market bills itself as a festival because a flea market is not a permitted use on this property in Coney Island. In response to ATZ’s query last month about the zoning, Purnima Kapur, Brooklyn City Planning Director, wrote in an email: “The C7 zoning district in Coney Island does not permit Flea Markets as a permitted use; however small scale retail and restaurants are permitted in addition to amusements.” There are Use Groups A, B and C, with A being for Amusements, and a formula for their allocation.

As we’ve said before, it’s a little tricky to figure out how “OVER 100,000 SQUARE FEET OF SHOPPERS DELIGHT!” is permitted when Sitt failed to win 10,000 square foot retail and the City’s own zoning says “Use Group C [Retail] uses shall be limited to 2,500 square feet of floor area and 30 feet of street frontage, except that on corner lots one street frontage may extend up to 100 feet.” Of course the city has long failed to enforce its own zoning. The furniture stores on the north side of Surf have continued to exist for years in defiance of the amusement zoning. The only example of a flea market in Coney Island being closed that we’re aware of is when Mayor Giuliani shut down the flea on the north side of Surf prior to the opening of his new ballpark in 2000.

Cooking spices, cleaning products, car mats, and tools looked incongruous in the amusement area. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Saturday’s rainy forecast kept some of the Aqueduct vendors away, yet the locations were said to be completely booked for the season. Assigned numbers were painted on the blacktop. It was depressing to see miscellaneous items arrayed in rows of cardboard boxes–tape measures, sharpies, notebooks, cleaning brushes, sandals, toys, balls, what have you. It was a typical market, with signs advertising prices starting at $1. Or 3 for $5.

Booths selling household cleaning products, personal care products, tools, automotive accessories and cooking spices looked incongruous in the amusement area. It felt jarring to see the new Soarin’ Eagle roller coaster against a backdrop of signage advertising “Dresses For Less.” There were just a few vendors with what might be called “upscale product” displayed to advantage–snazzy belt buckles, some lovely clothing near the front of the flea market, and a booth with strollers, skateboards and kids toys. We found one item that we liked and purchased it for $10.

flea market

One of the best looking booths featured strollers, skateboards & kidz toys. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The majority of space is taken up by flea market vendors, so it’s reasonable to say this event is indeed a flea market and not “like a state fair.’ The amusements consisted of a pony ride, a very small petting zoo, one inflatable bounce for kids (a second one was deflated), and two mimes. The Coney Island Dancers, who had brought in their sound system and were playing music, said they had been hired by the BK Festival. A few people were dancing on the sidewalk.

petting zoo

BK Festival's amusements include a small petting zoo and a pony ride. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

According to the Coney Island Rumor Mill, the BK Festival’s contract with Thor precludes them from bringing in mechanical amusement rides. It wouldn’t surprise me at all, considering that Sitt first evicted Norman Kaufman’s amusements from the property in 2006 and has failed to lease to several different carnivals and amusement operators who have tried to negotiate deals. As we wrote in Thor Equities Touts Coney Island as “RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME” (ATZ, May 4), we believe that the flea market or “shopping experience” is part of a strategy to win a variance for 10,000 square foot retail from the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals in a future administration. Having rides wouldn’t help that plan at all.

Why does the City allow Thor Equities to put flea markets that are festivals in name only on precious pieces of property in the C-7 amusement zone where the Tornado and Bobsled Coasters once thrilled? And not just once, but twice. It calls to mind the adage “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.”

flea market

BK Festival on the west side of Stillwell. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 5, 2012: Exclusive: Goodbye Flea Market, Hello “Steeplechase Park”

April 5, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Joe Sitt Scores Puff Piece in NY Times

March 29, 2011: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Close to Deal in Coney Island

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

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New Signage

Thor Equities New Signage at Corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. April 30, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via Amusing the Zillion

On Friday, Thor Equities put up new signage atop the blue construction fence at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, the gateway to Coney Island’s beach and Boardwalk: “CONEY ISLAND – The RETAIL RIDE of a LIFETIME – for leasing contact…”

Ain’t it just like Joe Sitt to tout retail when Coney Island, the birthplace of the amusement industry, is expecting its best season yet because of the success of Luna Park on land purchased by the City from Thor? The new slogan is a slap in the face to Zamperla’s Scream Zone, which has four real rides of a lifetime just down the block, including the eye-popping Sling Shot and Coney Island’s first new major roller coasters in nearly 40 years.

New rides –and not retail–on Stillwell are cause for celebration because this is where the now legendary Tornado (1927-1977) and Bobsled (1941-1974) Roller Coasters once thrilled and where Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City amused the zillion until Joe Sitt bought the property in 2006 and emptied out the amusements.

Thor Equities New Signs Atop Street Artists Mural at Corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. April 30, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via Amusing the Zillion

Surf and Stillwell is also the gateway to Joe Sitt’s successor to 2009’s failed Flea by the Sea. This year’s BK Festival, originally billed as “NYC Largest Flea Market with a Festival Style [sic]” has dropped the phrase flea market from its marketing material. Set to open this month next weekend, the festival is now being advertised as “like a state fair for the whole family with attractions to include inflatable world, concerts, shopping experience, pony rides and petting zoos, and much much more.” And with good reason, a flea market is illegal in Coney’s amusement zone, though in the past the City has failed to enforce its own zoning.

In response to ATZ’s query about the zoning, Purnima Kapur, Brooklyn City Planning Director, wrote in an email: “The C7 zoning district in Coney Island does not permit Flea Markets as a permitted use; however small scale retail and restaurants are permitted in addition to amusements.”

According to the zoning documents, retail uses are complementary to amusement uses and beach activities, and these uses are limited in size and frontage.

plan

Coney Island Illustrative Development Plan, Department of City Planning

We’re not convinced small scale retail is the Coney Island ride of a lifetime that Joe Sitt has in mind. At his Flea by the Sea in 2009, stands selling clothing and shoes were a reminder that Thor’s pitch book unsuccessfully used to lobby BP Markowitz for 10,000 square foot retail touted flagship retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap/Banana Republic, and DSW (“Thousands of shoes…prices you love”).

We believed then as we believe now that the flea market or “shopping experience” is part of a strategy to win a variance for 10,000 square foot retail from the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals in a future administration. In Coney Island, Joe Sitt is just as infamous for “sitting” on property as he is for flipping it.

Thor’s empty lot at Surf and Stillwell is the site of the former Henderson Music Hall, one of three historic buildings which Thor CEO Joe Sitt ordered to be demolished last year. The Henderson site was rezoned for a high-rise hotel in July 2009.

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February 13, 2012: Thor’s Coney Island: Candy Retailer It’Sugar to Open Surf Ave Store

April 5, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Joe Sitt Scores Puff Piece in NY Times

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

February 10, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Amusement Operators Balk, Money Talks at Stillwell

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DNALSI YENOC is CONEY ISLAND spelled backwards. The letters frame the view as visitors exit Stillwell Terminal onto Surf Avenue. “After seeing two of my flickr contacts take amazing shots of this within a week, and having taken a photo of it myself, a flickr group was inevitable,” writes photographer Barry Yanowitz, who started the group almost a year ago. Contributors include Coney Island photographers Bruce Handy, Amy Dreher, Lindsay Wengler, agent j loves agent a, and me-myself-i.

In recent months, the favorite view of this flickr group has changed irrevocably due to Thor Equities demolition of the century-old Henderson Building and the Shore Hotel. As I commented on Lindsay Wengler’s latest photo in the pool: The emptiness where Henderson used to be is hard to look at, but I also dread whatever Thor will put there next.

Untitled from DNALSI YENOC Group on flickr. March 26, 2011. Photo © Lindsay Wengler/SingleLindsReflex

Buried in today’s NY1 interview with Joe Sitt about the Aqueduct flea market that he’s bringing to his lots on Stillwell Avenue was one sentence about his newest empty lot: “This week he will give the site a new start, laying in foundation for a one-story building to use as an indoor amusement and retail space next summer.” Next summer? What about now? No reason was given for the long delay in construction.

As we wrote last week in “Thor’s Coney Island: Building Plans ‘Disapproved’ by DOB” (March 31, 2011), Sitt has yet to break ground because the DOB “DISAPPROVED” the building plans as many as 16 times over the past six months. Sitt also says in the interview that his dream is to build a hotel, but it will take seven years to put in the electricity and the utilities and the infrastructure that’s needed. Sounds like another excuse by the real estate speculator to keep the lot empty. Zamperla managed to build the new Luna Park in just 100 days.

Enjoy the view, both present and past. Here is one of my favorites by photographer Amy Dreher. The Fascination sign, which greeted visitors year round for over 50 years went dark and will never be seen again, except in photos and videos.

Coney Island Snow from DNALSI YENOC flickr group. January 10, 2009. Photo © Amy Dreher/luluinnyc via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 5, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Joe Sitt Scores Puff Piece in NY Times

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

February 23, 2011: Double Exposure: Photographer Barry Yanowitz & Coney Island on BCAT TV

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

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Thor Equities Festival by the Sea on Opening Day. May 22,2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Like it or not, and some Coney Island businesses don’t like it at all, “NYC LARGEST FLEA MARKET WITH A FESTIVAL STYLE! [sic]” is on the verge of getting permits to open Aqueduct’s answer to Thor’s flopped Flea by the Sea in Coney. ATZ learned that Will McCarthy, the event organizer of the “BK Festival,” who already applied for a Temporary Place of Assembly Permit from the DOB, will meet with City officials on Thursday in hopes of speeding along necessary approvals from the FDNY and DEP. Sources say a meeting with the Brooklyn Borough President to discuss the festival’s plans is also on this week’s schedule.

We were about to post this news when an article by Liz Robbins in today’s NY Times caught our eye: “With Its Move to Coney Island, Flea Market Is Sprucing Up.” The news that the festival management is set to sign a lease with Joe Sitt and is adding “some lace and frills to dress up” the flea concept is no surprise. What’s surprising is that the NY Times has done a puff piece on Joe Sitt’s adventures in Coney Island.

The Bumper Boats and other amusements thrived on this very location until Joe Sitt evicted them in 2007 to create his empty lots. Hooray for redevelopment!  Photo by the hanner via flickr

The Bumper Boats and other amusements thrived on this very location until Joe Sitt evicted them in 2007 to create his empty lots. Hooray for redevelopment! May 29, 2005. Photo © the hanner via flickr

“It’s a little nostalgic — I started my businesses as a flea market operator at the Aqueduct,” says Sitt. The reporter glosses over the fact that Sitt evicted amusements from this Coney Island property: “[Sitt] has razed some older buildings, angering some in the community, but the festival space on Stillwell was already vacant.” Actually this property is in a C-7 amusement zone where an amusement park with batting cages, go karts, bumper boats and mini golf thrived until Joe Sitt bought the land in 2006. He evicted the amusement operators to “allow the new development to proceed in a timely manner,” but has built NOTHING there except a failed flea market in 2009. (“Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt,” ATZ, March 3, 2010)

As for the Flea, the reporter takes Sitt’s word for it that his Flea by the Sea model was successful. “Two years ago, when the Aqueduct gaming project seemed imminent, [Sitt] recruited vendors, from pickle makers to bakers, alongside entertainers for a monthlong stint in Coney Island. The results convinced him the model would work.” What entertainers? The only entertainers that we observed were local bands onstage and a clown making balloon animals for kids. In fact the flea was widely considered a flop. For starters, look at our flickr set or comments from the disillusioned baker in Lifestyler Magazine.

Thor Equities idea of entertainment at the flea market was a band playing two sets.  Photo by me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Thor Equities idea of entertainment at the flea market was a band playing two sets. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Now back to our regularly scheduled post. The proposed locations for the flea’s “OVER 100,000 SQUARE FEET OF SHOPPERS DELIGHT!” are Thor Equities lots on both sides of Stillwell, where the disused tent frames from the 2009 flea remain. Thor’s lot on West 15th Street would also be activated. Although Coney Island’s C-7 amusement zoning (more on that later) does not specifically allow flea market use, it does allow temporary use for a fair. Thor’s Festival by the Sea aka Flea by the Sea in 2009 had such a permit.

The BK Festival website was taken offline last week after all the media hoopla about the flea market. It promised “All Day Entertainment, International Food Court and Kidz Zone, Pony Ride, and Rides.” ATZ left a voice mail message for the management asking for more info about the rides. We haven’t heard back yet.

UPDATE…10:20 am. We received an email from Will McCarthy, Event Director of BK Festival: “I wanted to reach out to you, as I know you have many concerns about our proposed project. I wanted to arrange a time when we can meet & discuss in detail all the wonderful family attractions we plan to bring to Coney Island this season. For the record BK Festival which will function like a state fair, comes to the new Coney Island with an array of colorful family experiences some of which includes – Monthly culturally themed activities, Interactive Sponsored Activities, Free Give Aways, Equestrian Center with pony rides & petting zoos, Live Entertainment (Concerts, Car Shows, Rodeos) International Food Court and our Outdoor Shopping Experience.” ATZ looks forward to bringing you a Q & A with the BK Festival Director in the coming days!

Cached version of BKFestival.com website as it appeared on Mar 29, 2011

Are there any amusement parks in America that boast a flea market? A web search turned up a handful of defunct parks, including Williams Grove in Mechanicsburg, PA, which now host flea markets. A Yelper wrote: “Last time I was there I overhead a little boy whose comment to his dad really summed up the place best. ‘They closed down the park and turned it into a yard sale.'” On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Colorado’s Mile High Marketplace, a huge flea, farmers and antiques market with a few amusement rides. Coney Island, the birthplace of the amusement industry, is in a class by itself. Yet it’s become the guinea pig for Joe Sitt’s retail-by-the-sea aspirations.

Over the weekend, ATZ talked to a few Coney business operators to find out their opinion of the market. Ride and game operators said that it’s better than having empty lots. They preferred to have amusements, which would stay open late and draw crowds rather than a flea market that will be dark at night. In Coney Island, the crowd comes late and stays late, often till 2 am. But amusement operators seemed resigned to the fact that Thor wasn’t about to bring in a carnival again. In the years leading up to the rezoning, Sitt brought in Reithoffer Shows, Geren Rides and other temporary amusements.

Some business owners who sell food or souvenirs in Coney and pay high rent are worried that the flea vendors will undercut them with bargain basement prices and cheap merchandise. Parking is also a major concern. Will the vendors, who come early, take up the parking spaces ordinarily used by visitors? Paid parking is available for $10-$20 at the Aquarium and MCU, but it can be a traffic jam on weekends. The BK Festival website promises “Free Shuttle Bus Drives Tourist Traffic To Event.”

At Thor Equities Flea by the Sea, Tons of Fun = Lots of Schlock. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Summer 2009: At Thor Equities Flea by the Sea, "Tons of Fun" = Lots of Schlock. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

At Thor’s Flea by the Sea, stands selling clothing and shoes were a reminder that in April 2009 Sitt’s pitch book unsuccessfullly used to lobby BP Markowitz for 10,000 square feet retail touted flagship retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap/Banana Republic, and DSW (“Thousands of shoes…prices you love”). Was the flea market part of a strategy to win a variance from a future administration for 10,000 square foot retail?

And this brings us back to Coney Island’s C-7 Zoning. We’ve appended the complete list of Use Groups A, B, and C below since most people snooze at the thought of looking at a zoning document. “A1” is for Amusements and is of course our fave. Use Group C is Retail. It’s a little tricky to figure out how “OVER 100,000 SQUARE FEET OF SHOPPERS DELIGHT!” is permitted when Sitt failed to win 10,000 square foot retail and “Use Group C uses shall be limited to 2,500 square feet of floor area and 30 feet of street frontage, except that on corner lots one street frontage may extend up to 100 feet.” Oh, but this is a Temporary Fair. And how many years will that be? Until Joe Sitt develops the property or sells it.

Tops $5 Each. Vendors at Thor Equities Flea Market, Coney Island. June 6, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

There’s also…

(b) Bowery and Wonder Wheel Way

“At least 50 percent of Bowery and Wonder Wheel Way street frontage of any zoning lot shall be occupied by Use Group A1 use at the ground floor level, and not more than 50 percent of the Bowery and Wonder Wheel Way street frontage of any zoning lot shall be
occupied by Use Group C uses at the ground floor level.”

(d) Stillwell Avenue and West 10th Street
“At least 15 percent of the Stillwell Avenue and West 10th Street street frontage of any zoning lot shall be occupied by Use Group A1 uses at the ground floor level.

Use Group A1…Amusement arcades; Amusement parks, with no limitation on floor area per establishment; Animal exhibits, circuses, carnivals or fairs of a temporary nature; Camps, overnight or day, commercial beaches or swimming pools;Dark rides, electronic or computer-supported games, including interactive entertainment facilities, laser tag and motion simulators; Ferris wheels, flume rides, roller coasters, whips, parachute jumps, dodgem scooters, merry-go-rounds or similar midway attractions; Fortune tellers, freak shows, haunted houses, wax museums, or similar midway attractions; Miniature golf courses and model car hobby centers, including racing; Open booths with games of skill or chance, including shooting galleries and Water parks

Use Group A2…Arenas or auditoriums, with capacity limited to 2,000
seats; Billiard parlors or pool halls, table tennis halls or bowling alleys, with no limitation on number of bowling lanes per establishment; Gymnasiums or recreational sports facilities, including but not limited to indoor golf driving ranges, batting cages, basketball, volleyball, squash and other courts, without membership requirements; Skateboard parks, roller or ice skating rinks;Theaters, including movie theaters, provided such use does not occupy the ground floor level of a building, except for lobbies limited to a maximum street frontage of 30 feet, except that on corner lot one street frontage may extend up to 100 feet.

Tupperware Party at Thor Equities Flea. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Use Group B: Amusement and entertainment-enhancing uses…
Art gallery, commercial; Banquet halls;Breweries; Eating or drinking establishments of any size, including those with entertainment or dancing; Historical exhibits; Spas and bathhouses;Studios, art, music, dancing or theatrical;Tattoo parlors; Radio or television studios; Wedding chapels

Use Group C: Retail and service uses

Arts and crafts production and sales, including but not limited to ceramics, art needlework, hand weaving or tapestries, book binding, fabric painting, glass blowing, jewelry or art metal craft and wood carving; Bicycle sales, rental or repair shops;Bookstores; Candy or ice cream stores; Clothing or clothing accessory; Clothing, custom manufacturing or altering for retail, including costume production and hair product manufacturing; Delicatessen stores; Fishing tackle or equipment, rental or sales; Gift shops; Jewelry manufacturing from precious metals; Musical instruments store; Music stores; Newsstands Patio or beach furniture or equipment; Photographic equipment stores and studios; Sporting goods or equipment, sale or rental, including instruction in skiing, sailing or skin diving; Toy stores

Box of Sox at Anchor Store # 6, Joe Sitt's Flea by the Sea. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

May 26, 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Make Dismal Debut

March 29, 2011: Aqueduct Flea Vendors Close to Deal in Coney Island

May 13, 2010: Scoop: Deal to Rent Thor’s Coney Island Lots a No-Go for Fair Producer

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

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New View

After the Demolition: New View of Surf Ave in Coney Island. February 11, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In the words of T.S. Eliot: “April is the cruellest month…” Last April, Joe Sitt of Thor Equities announced plans to demolish the buildings he owned along Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Now when visitors step out of Stillwell Terminal, their first glimpse of Coney Island will be the blue construction fence surrounding Joe Sitt’s Wasteland–the newest empty lot in the real-estate speculator’s collection of empty lots. The temporary one-story building that Sitt filed a variety of plans to build beginning in October has yet to break ground because the DOB “DISAPPROVED” the plans as many as 16 times over the past six months.

Surf and Stillwell was the site of the now-demolished, century-old Henderson Music Hall. The Henderson had survived being cut in half in the 1920s to make way for the widening of Stillwell Avenue. When the City rezoned the parcel for a high-rise “hotel” in July 2009, the historic building was doomed, even though no hotel is scheduled to be built there anytime soon. At the end of the 2010 season, longtime tenants Popeye’s Chicken, Fascination Arcade and Maritza’s Souvenirs were booted out and haven’t been heard from since.

Thor’s proposed construction is a “ONE STORY NEW COMMERCIAL BUILDING WITH ASSEMBLY AND AMUSEMENT SPACES AS INDICATED ON PLANS FILED HEREWITH.” If you look under “plan examination” you’ll see that they have filed for a variety of types of permits (equipment, new building, general construction, foundation & earthworks, fencing) with a corresponding number of disapprovals for each.

Coney Island

Post No Bills: Thor Equities Empty Lot at Corner of Surf & Stillwell, Coney Island. February 28, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

As shown under “all permits,” they have applied for and been issued permits for Foundations, Earthwork, and a Construction Fence in connection with the project. This will allow them to do the excavation and pour the foundations for the job, even while the New Building and other applications remain disapproved.

Last April, Thor Equities released a rendering of a cheesy looking temporary one-story building occupied by hamburger and taco food joints. And a statement: “With the work we are commencing today, by Memorial Day, 2011, all of our parcels along Surf Avenue are scheduled to be activated with family-friendly games, food, shopping and other activities that visitors to, and residents of, Coney are clamoring for….”

Thinkwell rendering

Thinkwell's rendering for Thor's Temporary One-Story Building in Coney Island. April 2010

When we first read about Thor’s plan and saw the rendering in Eliot Brown’s piece in the Observer–”The New Coney Island? Sitt Sees Fast Food in Place of Current Buildings”–we thought Thinkwell, a well-known firm in the themed entertainment industry, should be renamed Thinkworst for creating this crappy rendering for the gateway to Coney Island. Thor’s plan to get demo permits from the City seemed calculated to put an end to Save Coney Island’s efforts to create an historic district in Coney Island.

Coney Island

Joe Sitt's Newest Empty Lot (Site of Demolished Henderson Building), Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last April, ATZ complained about “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents and Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010). The bedraggled tenting was removed and the City put up fence wraps with colorful advertisements for Coney attractions to camouflage the empty lots. We’re curious to see what kind of bills if any will be posted on Thor’s blue construction fence. Posters for Aqueduct Flea by the Sea?

UPDATE April 4, 2011:

Some readers have questioned whether Thor Equities ever really intended to build anything on the site. Were the building plans just an excuse to get a permit to demolish the Henderson? Why didn’t Thor’s architects resubmit a plan that would win DOB approval? Six months of disapprovals seems like an inordinately long time.

ATZ asked someone in the building trade to take a look at the DOB page and give an opinion. Here it is: it IS strange that they had so many disapprovals for what seems like such a simple building, and i have to think that if they are proceeding with foundations, they either think they are about to get the new building application approved, or they are sensing some change in the regulatory environment and want to get the foundations in so that they can claim to be “vested”. who knows what that would be in this case, but does seem like a lot of trouble to go thru for a one story building (am sure they’re thinking the same thing).

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 20, 2010: Displaced Queens Flea Vendors Eye Coney Island’s Vacant Lots

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

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

June 7, 2010: Fence Wrap Advertising Comes to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue

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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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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Historian Charles Denson‘s video tribute to Coney Island’s historic Henderson Music Hall is beautifully done and, of course, heartbreaking. In addition to rare archival material, the video features an unexpected recent look inside the building, which is currently under demolition.

Denson’s interior shots reveal what remains of the Velocity Nightclub on the building’s second floor. This performance space was exquisitely restored and brought up to code in 2004, before Thor Equities bought the building and began to blight it. The footage shows the space to be in surprisingly good condition and repudiates what Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt told NY1 in May: “Every one of these buildings is just horrible, rundown relics with nothing exciting about them. I hate to say it, but the great buildings of Coney Island disappeared 80 years ago.”

Last time we wrote about Thor’s demolitions, readers asked: Why wasn’t this building saved? The City aided and abetted Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt by rezoning the Henderson parcel for a high rise hotel. 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.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 23, 2010: Coney Island Christmas Wish List: $12M Shore Theater

December 13, 2010: R.I.P Coney Island’s Shore Hotel, Henderson Next on Hit List

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

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

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