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Posts Tagged ‘Stillwell Avenue’

MegaWhirl

Test Spin on the MegaWhirl, Coney Island. May 10, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

Last week ATZ posted photos of the MegaWhirl ride, a prototype from Gordon Rides and Larson International, being assembled on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. It was only a matter of time before somebody went for the ride’s first spin outside of the factory floor. Coney photographer Eric Kowalsky sent us these photos of workers assembling the MegaWhirl going for a test spin.

We’ve already written quite a bit about the MegaWhirl, a new ride described as combining the thrill of the Whip and the Tilt-A-Whirl, and look forward to going for our first spin! The ride is expected to debut at the BK Festival’s new Steeplechase Park in Coney Island on Memorial Day Weekend.

Test Spin on the MegaWhirl, Coney Island. May 10, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved

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Related posts on ATZ…

May 1, 2012: MegaWhirl Ride Prototype to Debut in Coney Island

April 19, 2012: Rides Return to Thor’s Stillwell Lots for 1st Time Since 2008

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

June 28, 2011: New Ride: The Whip + Tilt-A-Whirl = MegaWhirl

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Steve's Grill House

Steve's New Grill House at the BK Festival on Stillwell Avenue. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Easter Sunday, Steve Bitetzakis opened his new Grill House at the BK Festival on Stillwell Avenue next to Scream Zone. The menu is the same as his previous spot on the Boardwalk– hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, shish-ke-bab, chicken wings, french fries and knishes. Old friends and longtime customers were happy to see him back in business. The eatery is housed in a newly purchased concession trailer. The decorative flags, hand-painted signage and seating that gave the Boardwalk eatery a homey ambiance appear to be the next order of business.

Steve’s was among several food stands and trailers opening for Easter on Thor Equities’ Stillwell East lot leased to the BK Festival. On Memorial Day Weekend, rides and attractions are expected to fill the festival lot and it will be called “Steeplechase Amusement Park.”

Located on the Coney Island Boardwalk since 1993, Bitetzakis was one of the “Coney Island 8” evicted by Zamperla. In February he called off plans to have his modular building moved down Stillwell and instead sold it to Zamperla, which is remodeling it and the adjoining Beer Island to create their own beach bar on the Boardwalk.

Steve's Grill House

Steve Bitetzakis, the owner of Steve’s Grill House on the Coney Island Boardwalk since 1993, with his son at their new location. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Steve’s family has a long history of operating food concessions in Coney Island. His father Gregory Bitetzakis was the co-owner of Gregory & Paul’s and operated the G & P’s on West 10th Street opposite the Cyclone until his retirement in 2009.

As ATZ reported over the weekend, the majority of the original “Coney Island 8″ eateries are coming back this season. The relocated Cha Cha’s, the Grill House’s neighbor on the Boardwalk, also opened on Sunday. When we stopped by the new bar and restaurant on the north side of Surf across from Nathan’s Famous, John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia was holding court at a front table and regulars were dropping by for their first drinks of the season. Cha Cha’s new address is 1315 Surf Avenue, the space formerly occupied by Surf N Turf Grill.

Steve's Grill House

Steve's New Grill House at the BK Festival on Stillwell Avenue. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

UPDATE June 25, 2012:

We’re sorry to report that Steve’s is temporarily closed. After losing his spot on Stillwell when the BK Festival closed to make way for the new Steeplechase Park, Steve’s trailer was relocated to Thor Equities’ Surf Avenue lot at West 12th Street. While Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park finally managed to open on Mermaid Parade Day after a four week delay, the satellite locations on Surf remain closed for now. In addition, Steve’s new location has literally left his trailer up against a fence. The original plans for the new Steeplechase park and the other two locations called for opening the fencing during business hours. It turns out that city regulations will not permit it.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 7, 2012: Cheers! First Drink at Relocated Cha Cha’s of Coney Island

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

February 4, 2012: Last Coney Island 8 Holdout Sells Boardwalk Building

December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

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Coney Island Trolley Pole

Trolley Pole from the 86th Street Line on Stillwell Ave at Mermaid Ave. March 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Outside McDonald’s in Coney Island is Stillwell Avenue’s last remaining trolley pole, a vestige of the 86th Street trolley line which went from Bay Ridge to Coney’s Stillwell Terminal and ended in 1948. Located at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues, the trolley pole is now used by Mickey D’s to advertise lunch specials, but we’re naming it the Granville T. Woods Memorial Trolley Pole because this street corner happens to be Granville T. Woods Way. It appears to be the last trolley pole on Stillwell Avenue.

Granville T. Woods invented the overhead conducting system which made the trolley possible. He held more than a dozen patents for electric railway technology including a power distribution system first tested and demonstrated to the public at Coney Island in 1892. In 2008, the African American inventor was honored with the street naming and was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame.

As far as we know, Coney Island has forty-four surviving trolley utility poles. In February, ATZ wrote about the loss of two century-old poles on Surf Avenue and the 43 that remain on Surf (“Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History,” ATZ, February 21, 2012). When trolley service on the Surf Avenue-Seagate line ended on December 1, 1946, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce requested that the poles on both sides of Surf Avenue be left in place in the amusement area to be used for holiday decorations.

Stan Fox, the former owner of Playland Arcade, told ATZ that about ten years ago, Charlie Tesoro of the Chamber asked him to count the poles on Surf Avenue. “There were sixty-four,” says Fox. “Since then some have fallen down. Others were removed.” The ones in front of MCU Park were removed when the stadium was constructed, he says. Fox updated his trolley pole census and said there are currently 43 poles on Surf Avenue as well as this solitary pole on Stillwell Avenue.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit Trolley 2585 on 86th Street line in front of Stillwell Avenue Terminal, between Mermaid & Surf Avenues. August 11, 1944. North Jersey NHRS Collection via Coney Island Island History Project

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Related posts on ATZ…

February 21, 2012: Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History

January 31, 2012: Remnant of Under Boardwalk Bar Found in Coney Island

October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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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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Advertising on Fence Wraps, Stillwell Ave East ,Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

AFTER: Advertising on Fence Wraps, Stillwell Ave East, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thanks to some fence wrap magic, tourists who walk down Stillwell Ave on their way to the Beach and Boardwalk will no longer be confronted by abandoned flea market tents and empty lots. In April, the Coney Island Development Corporation initiated the fence wrap project for the City’s parcels on the Boardwalk side of Stillwell, where CAI/Zamperla will build Scream Zone after finishing work on Luna Park.

Thor Equities abandoned flea market, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

BEFORE: Thor Equities abandoned flea market tents on Stillwell Ave East, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Since Thor Equities Stillwell lots have remained vacant, the CIDC got permission to install the wraps on Thor’s property as well. The advertising campaign does a good job of hiding what remains of Thor’s tent structures from last summer’s failed flea market. The structures are on Thor’s land only, since the city cleared their section of Stillwell after the property was purchased from Thor in November. The mesh banners advertise the Brooklyn Cyclones, Ringling’s Coney Island Illuscination, the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park and the Coney Island Fun Guide’s “More Ooohs. New Aaahs” campaign. Kudos to the CIDC’s Lynn Kelly and Nathan Bliss, who were seen installing the fence wraps themselves without any help from Joe Sitt.

Advertising on Fence Wraps, Thor Equities Stillwell West lot. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

AFTER: Advertising on Fence Wraps, Thor Equities Stillwell West lot. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Not exactly news: Thor Equities’ flashy ad in IAAPA Funworld amounts to a charade because Sitt failed to lease his property to any of the amusement operators who came to New York to negotiate a deal. While the City can’t force Sitt to rent his property, it appears that he was made to clean up his mess. The tent sidewalls and tops have come down since we reported that bedraggled tents were the first sight visitors see when they stroll down Stillwell Avenue (“Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Vacant Buildings,” April 21).

But the framework remains standing since Sitt was reportedly asking prospective tenants to pay the cost. “They won’t take it down. It costs 10 grand to take it down,” Mark Lovell of Universal Fairs told ATZ last month (“Scoop: Deal to Rent Thor’s Coney Island Lots a No-Go for Fair Producer, May 13). Rumor has it that yet another potential tenant is waiting to sign a lease. Sorry, we’ll believe it when they’re set up and selling tickets! Let’s not forget what Stillwell looked like before Joe Sitt bought the property and got rid of the amusements.

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Stillwell West. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

BEFORE: Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Stillwell West. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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

February 11, 2010: Photo of the Day: NYCEDC Signs Herald New Coney Island Amusement Park

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Will Thor’s lots be devoid of amusements again in 2010? Thor Equities lot at Bowery & Stillwell in Coney Island. August 22, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Will Thor’s lots be devoid of amusements again in 2010? Thor Equities lot at Bowery & Stillwell behind the Henderson Building in Coney Island. August 22, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Mark Lovell of Tennessee-based Universal Fairs flew to New York on Monday to sign a lease for Thor Equities’ lot on Stillwell behind the Henderson Building in Coney Island. But the deal turned out to be a no-go, just as it had for the parade of carnival and park operators who’d preceded him. The deal breaker was the fact that he was offered only a one-year lease, according to Lovell. Since it’s so late in the season, Lovell needed two years to recoup the $150K rent plus the $250K investment.

“I passed on the deal,” Lovell told ATZ in an interview. “The reason no one is renting is a termination clause without cause. If Thor thinks it’s too sunny, if they think the operator has bad breath. They don’t need a reason. They can kick you out. They said if someone comes in and wants to buy our property we don’t want to have our hands tied. We want to have total control of our property.”

It’s a loss for Coney Island and New York City because Universal Fairs is a successful promoter and producer of a variety of shows and expos across the country. Among their events are the Delta Fair and Music Festival, Austin Fair and Music Festival, Arizona’s Chandler Ostrich Festival and Louisiana’s Bossier City State Fair. The company whose motto is “World Class Fairs, World Class Results” was ready to invest $250K in capital improvements for sewers, restrooms, electrical, stadium lighting, and a go-kart track. Carnival rides, a petting zoo and John Strong’s sideshow and freak museum were also part of Universal Fairs’ proposal for Coney Island 2010.

Giantess Banner Painted for John Strongs Sideshow in Dreamland Park, Coney Island.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Giantess Banner Painted for John Strong's Sideshow in Dreamland Park, Coney Island. July 25, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This piece of news means that the on-again, off-again, on-again saga of John Strong’s Five-Legged Puppy, Tripod the Three legged Duck and his dozens of other freaks returning to Coney Island in 2010 is off again. The deal-in-progress had been a rumor on various message boards for the past few weeks. Whether you’re a fan or foe of Strong’s freak show, the sorry fact is Thor’s Stillwell lots are looking to be dark and deserted come Memorial Day weekend.

John Strong, who lost his much publicized bid to lease Thor’s Grashorn Building, which is now slated for demolition, was resigned to the fact that his second try at a Coney Island comeback had fallen through. “I have a deal with Rob Zombie with my show for a month or more. I’m very excited with it, but we will miss you and Coney Island,” he wrote in an email.

Lovell told ATZ that with only two weeks left till Memorial Day Weekend, his discussions with Thor’s agent Sam Sabin at first centered on whether it would be possible to get all the permits in time. City officials said it wouldn’t due to the very tight time frame. Thor’s people introduced him to a permit expediter but “the guy didn’t know how to get a permit,” said Lovell. “Then I said, before we go any further, are you gonna give me a long term lease? No. Well give me a multi-year lease. Thor won’t give multi-year leases.”

Thor Equities  in Funworld Magazine

Thor Equities ad in February's Funworld Magazine

The fact that it would cost $10K to take down the framework of Thor’s tents from last year’s failed flea market was seen as yet another obstacle by the promoter. Although the sidewall and tops have been taken down since we wrote about the tattered tents, the framework remains standing. “They won’t take it down. It costs 10 grand to take it down,” Lovell said. “I don’t understand why they have signs up and advertise the property for rent, then they put obstacles in the way of renting it for $150,000—that’s chump change to them.”

Despite all that, Lovell says he would like to come next year and that the people he met in New York City and in Coney Island were super nice. Mark Lovell struck us as a nice guy, too. Hey, come back anytime! Preferably after Joe Sitt flips the property to the City. As ATZ reported last month, with the grand opening of Luna Park and the return of Ringling Brothers Circus, Coney Island’s stakeholders are busy planning an exciting summer season. Thor Equities has yet to announce any tenants or plans for Sitt’s remaining Stillwell parcels, though plans to demolish four historic buildings were released to the media. What kind of game is Joe Sitt playing in his Coney Island sandbox this season? We’ve been mulling it over, so stay tuned. Or if you have a clue, please let us know!

New Sign on Stillwell. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

January 7, 2010: New Sign on Stillwell. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

April 12, 2010: Evicted by Thor, Coney Island’s Zipper Ride Thrills in Honduras

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

January 31, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Freak Museum to Lease Coney’s Oldest Building

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Thor Equities abandoned flea market, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tents on Stillwell Ave, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

If you’ve been wondering what Joe Sitt of Thor Equities is doing with his vacant buildings and empty lots in Coney Island 2010, the answer is nothing yet. It’s disgraceful that Coney Island’s no. 1 real estate speculator is getting away with letting his tents from last year’s flopped Flea by the Sea deteriorate and become a public eyesore. The bedraggled tents are the first sight visitors see when they stroll down Stillwell Avenue, the gateway to Coney Island’s Beach and Boardwalk. How would “Joey Coney Island” like it if this mess was in his backyard instead of the People’s Playground? Tear ‘em down!

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Coney Island. April 19, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities abandoned flea market tent, Coney Island. April 19, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island’s 40 rides and diverse attractions opened for the season on Palm Sunday and enjoyed the best Easter in decades. On the City-owned former Astroland site, Zamperla/CAI is working nearly around the clock to finish the new Luna Park in time for Memorial Day Weekend. If Sitt had sold the land to the City when the rezoning was passed in July, the park would probably be open now! With the return of Ringling Brothers Circus and the grand opening of Luna Park, Coney Island’s stakeholders are busy planning an exciting summer season. But Joe Sitt has yet to announce any tenants or plans for his Coney Island buildings or remaining Stillwell parcels.

Shoot out the Star in Thor-Owned Henderson Building, Bowery at Stillwell. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star in Thor-Owned Henderson Building, Bowery at Stillwell. April 19, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities huge “Store for Lease” banners on the Henderson Building and Shore Hotel continue to greet visitors when they exit Stillwell station. As for Thor’s vacant buildings, the Grashorn—Coney Island’s oldest building—and the former Bank of Coney Island—it’s deathwatch time. The Coney Island Rumor Mill is saying a demolition company was asked to give a quote for the takedown of the Grashorn and the Bank of Coney Island immediately as well as the Henderson Building and Shore Hotel by October. Popeye’s $120K per year lease of the corner store on the ground floor is said to be up this year.

Thor-Owned Henderson Building sits on a Parcel Rezoned for a High-Rise Hotel. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Thor-Owned Henderson Building sits on a Parcel Rezoned for a High-Rise Hotel. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Last July, the Bank of Coney and the Henderson parcels were rezoned for high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories. Though it’s unlikely a hotel will go up anytime soon, the speculation is that Sitt wants to get rid of the Grashorn and Henderson, which were nominated by Coney Island USA for landmark status, before the LPC calendars them or Save Coney Island’s plan for a historic district gathers steam.

Vacant on Surf Ave at Jones Walk: Thor-Owned Grashorn and Lambros Buildings. April 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Vacant on Surf Ave at Jones Walk: Thor-Owned Grashorn and Lambros Buildings. April 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Since Zamperla/CAI won the 10 year contract to build a new amusement park on the City owned land purchased from Sitt, a who’s who of amusement operators has enquired about leasing Sitt’s remaining parcels. But showmen are not marks. Sitt’s steep asking price—reportedly $300K-$500K– for each of his two 50,000 square foot Stillwell lots–has driven away top carnivals and amusement park operators who negotiated for yet failed to sign multi-year leases. Sources tell ATZ that onerous lease terms such as a 30-day vacate clause and having to pay all of the rent up front helped kill the deals.

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

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

Sideshow operator John Strong, who negotiated with Thor to bring his freak museum to the Grashorn Building, now says all deals are off since he can’t spend more in rent than he can take in at the ticket box. Strong believes he got outbid by a Russian who owns an arcade. But the supposed tenant, Sam’s Arcade from last year’s Dreamland, hasn’t signed the lease for Coney Island’s oldest building. What is Sitt’s game?

The Wall Street Journal recently had an article called “Empty Storefronts Blot Union Square Area”–San Francisco, not New York–with a quote from Joe Sitt, who is one of the property owners: “Mr. Sitt says he isn’t rushing to lock up a long-term lease before the market recovers. ‘I’m very willing to be patient,’ he says. While an empty storefront might not help in the short run, securing better tenants is a long-term boon for the neighborhood.” Ironically, another quote in the piece is “It’s like a major theme park losing its rides,” says Joe D’Alessandro, chief executive of the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, of Union Square’s store closings.

Funny thing is the quote could apply equally to the situation in Coney Island, though Sitt hasn’t had much to say about Coney since he sold 7 acres to the City in November 2009. At the time, Sitt told the Real Deal in a Q & A…

“We have to redo all of our plans, but we will still have millions and millions of square feet of apartments and hotels and retail and restaurants and enclosed amusements. Yes, it will still have the Las Vegas component to it. The latter versions of the renderings are close to what it will be.”

Oh, yeah, he forgot to mention the millions and millions of dollars he’ll make when he flippity-flips it.

Before Thor: Remember Batting Range and Go Kart City? April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Before Thor: Remember Batting Range and Go Kart City? April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In the meantime, a parade of people eager to do business in Coney Island continues to look at Thor’s Stillwell parcels. Last week, yet another amusement operator interested in a three-year lease for a go-kart track arrived on the scene. Rumor has it they’re set to sign a lease tomorrow. We’ll see. Our skeptical friends say that Sitt’s lots will remain empty this summer. We say it’s 37 days till Memorial Day Weekend and Sitt never had carnival rides up and running in “Dreamland” until then. In fact, bizarre rumors of Thor Equities producing entertainment in a Spiegeltent on one parcel and bringing their very own carnival to the other are circulating, too. What else can we say but this isn’t just any run-of-the-mill rumor mill, it’s in Coney Island, which thrives on the strange, the odd and the unpredictable.

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

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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