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Posts Tagged ‘Vacant Lot’

805 Surf Avenue

Lot on the north side of Surf Avenue adjacent to the West 8th Street subway station in Coney Island. May 5, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion.com

The new owners of a long vacant lot on the north side of Surf Avenue directly across from the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island are seeking ideas for seasonal use. “We’re looking to do something in the short term,” Igor Oberman of PYE Properties told ATZ. Arts and crafts, food market, food trucks, and amusement attractions are a few of the possibilities.

“We’re brainstorming ideas as to what uses we could put the site this summer. It looks like Thor has got the food vendors to come out,” said Oberman, referring to the Smorgasburg vendors coming to Stillwell Avenue. “Any of your ideas would be appreciated.” Oberman may be reached at PYE Properties at igor[AT]pyeproperties[dot]com.

Over the past decade, the vacant lot, which has 140 feet of frontage on Surf and is 90 feet deep, has occasionally been used as a parking lot. For one day in 2011, the lot briefly hosted John Strong’s sideshow until the previous property owners abruptly did an about-face and went back to parking cars.

A kiddie ride park,a go kart track and a flea market housed in shipping containers have occupied the lot in the past. Bumper cars and other amusements were in the building on the site which was torn down in the 1950s. Until the early ’80s the north side of Surf Avenue was home to individually-owned penny arcades and a variety of rides including carousels and even a Jumbo Jet-style coaster.

805 Surf Avenue

Vacant lot at 805-825 Surf Avenue, on the north side of Surf across from the Cyclone in Coney Island, May 5, 2015. Photo © anonymouse via AmusingtheZillion.com

The Surf Avenue lot at 805-825 Surf Avenue is Brighton Beach-based PYE Properties’ first acquisition in Coney Island. “We’re looking to develop it shortly,” Oberman said. According to the development company’s website, “PYE Properties is a full-service development company guided by our in-house team of result-driven real estate professionals whose expertise includes acquisition, design, development, construction and property management.”

Since the rezoning of Coney Island, the north side of Surf has seen restaurants such as Grimaldi’s, Applebee’s, and Subway Cafe rapidly replacing furniture stores and vacant lots. A Johnny Rockets franchise is under construction and IHOP signed a lease in February. Mom & Pops on the north side include Chill party space, Red Door Bar & Grill (formerly Coney Island Bar & Grill), and Piece of Velvet Cupcakes.

UPDATE May 11, 2016

PYE Properties, the owners of the Surf Avenue lot across the street from the Coney Island Cyclone, have started advertising for vendors for a flea market set to open in May. Like some of the furniture stores and a cafe on the north side of Surf, it’s named after one of Coney’s amusement parks — Luna Park Flea Market. According to their new website, the price for a spot on Friday, Saturday or Sunday is $50, while other days of the week will go for $30. Read more

Related posts on ATZ…

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

April 20, 2015: Art of the Day: “Greetings from Coney Island” Blends Past & Present

January 29, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Subway Cafe, Sushi Lounge, IHOP, Checkers, Johnny Rockets

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

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Thor's Coney Island

Thor’s Coney Island: Former site of McCullough’s Kiddie Park viewed from Bowery, with Scream Zone on City-owned property in background. July 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

With just 75 days left in Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, we’ve been taking stock of the new Coney Island, which began to take shape after the July 2009 rezoning and during the Mayor’s third term. Most of the City-owned land in the amusement area has been re-activated with amusements, starting with Luna Park (2010) and Scream Zone (2011) built by Central Amusement International on the vacant lots bought from Thor Equities for $95.6 million, and continuing with the installation of the B&B Carousell and relighting of the Parachute Jump in the new Steeplechase Plaza this year.

The same can’t be said for adjacent property held onto by Thor CEO Joe Sitt. It became vacant after Thor acquired the land and evicted ride and park operators and remains vacant despite a history of various amusement operators efforts to negotiate lease deals. The latest project that never happened was Big Mark’s Action Park, which planned to bring a rock climbing wall, a vertical wind tunnel and other extreme attractions to Thor’s Stillwell lots in 2013. It’s a similar story as ATZ’s previous post “The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks” contrasting the activated City-owned and vacant Thor-owned sides of the Walk.

Bumble Bee Ride

Closed Forever in September 2012: Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

This week last year, ATZ was saying goodbye to McCullough’s Kiddie Park, which had been on Coney Island’s Bowery for more than 50 years. The McCullough family, descendants of Steeplechase Park founder George C Tilyou, were dismantling the Bumblebees and other rides and leaving Coney forever after failing to come to a lease agreement with property owner Thor Equities. Since then, the lot has remained vacant, just another one of Joe Sitt’s collection of interminably vacant lots in Coney Island.

What Michael Daly wrote in the Daily News in 2009 after the City bought Sitt’s Boardwalk property is still true today: “Sitt is the city’s most successful un-developer. He spoke grandly of building a billion-dollar Las Vegas-style resort. What he has built is a string of vacant lots, the most depressing being where Astroland amusement park stood until a year ago.” Just substitute McCullough’s for Astroland.

Thor's Coney Island

Thor’s Coney Island: West 12th Street looking west. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The sole building that Joe Sitt has built in Coney after years of real estate speculation is a temporary building at Surf and Stillwell with retail stores like It’Sugar and a Brooklyn Nets Shop but devoid of amusements. You’ve heard the phrase “dummy corporation” but did you know Thor Equities has introduced a new concept to Coney Island of dummy arcades? All season long, dummy arcade signs fronting empty space with “Retail Space Available” signs have made a mockery of the City’s 2009 rezoning requiring a percentage of amusements on the property.

The rest of Thor’s Coney properties and lots remain vacant today. Unlike 2007, when Sitt first evicted Batting Cage and Go Kart City as well as the Zipper ride, which is the subject of a riveting documentary, Coney Island’s vacant lots are no longer in the news. In 2008 and 2009, when the City was pushing the rezoning, Coney’s infamous vacant lots were mentioned by City officials as a reason for the rezoning. “THE END OF CONEY ISLAND IN 2009?,” said a “fact sheet” called “Coney Island Throughout The Ages” from the Coney Island Development Corporation. “Today, Coney Island is a ghost of its former self. Under the current zoning, amusement operators have divested, leaving illegal uses and vacant lots throughout the area.” Four years after the rezoning, the lots are still vacant with no end in sight.

Thor Equities

Thor Equities Retail Building with Tenants It’Sugar and Rainbow Shops and Dummy Arcade Sign Where No Arcade Exists. September 29, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Photographs of newly created vacant lots like the ones in this post are rarely seen and illustrate the dark side of Bloomberg’s New Coney Island. Most people are happily snapping pictures of the new roller coasters and the crowds on the Boardwalk, which is as it should be. In fact, we’ve held off till the tail end of the season to post these depressing photos to avoid creating any bad publicity for Coney.

On the other hand, our photos of vacant lots are free advertising for Thor Equities, whose new website “Thor Equities Presents Coney Island” revives their “Retail Ride of a Lifetime” slogan: “Thor Equities presents a new retail opportunity at a scale New York hasn’t seen in years! ThorConeyIsland.com is a retailers ticket to joining the retail ride of a lifetime taking place in Coney Island.” The site touts such stats as “18 million people visit the beach every season” and “4.7 million subway riders visit Coney Island every year” to lure retailers. The leasing plan pitches Thor’s buildings including the Grashorn, Coney Island’s oldest building, which has been vacant since 2008, but not the long-vacant lots.

Thor's Coney Island

Thor’s Coney Island : Aerial view of vacant lots on south side of the Bowery between W 12th and W 15th Streets that formerly had amusements. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

While the subject of Coney Island’s vacant lots has dropped from the headlines, the question looms: What is the future of Thor Equities vacant lots and buildings in the next administration? Some of the property was rezoned to accommodate 30-story hotels and retail in the heart of the amusement area but still requires an amusement component. Putting up glittery arcade signs where there are no arcades is a slap in the face of the zoning requirement. Will the City enforce its own zoning? Will Sitt try to get a variance? Will he continue to “sit” on the land and wait for infrastructure improvements? Will he flip the property?

The Bumper Boats were on the Bowery at Stillwell until Joe Sitt evicted them in 2007. Photo by the hanner via flickr

The Bumper Boats and other amusements thrived at this location on Stillwell Ave until evicted by Thor Equities in 2007. May 29, 2005. Photo © the hanner via flickr

Will this land ever see amusements again? On Stillwell Avenue, where the Tornado Roller coaster (1927-1977), the Bobsled (1941-1974), and Stauch’s Baths and Dance Hall (1930-1998) once stood, Norman Kaufman’s Batting Range and Go Kart City amused the zillions until Joe Sitt emptied out the amusements in 2007. Last year, NY1 reported Sitt’s plans to put a movie theater with stadium seating on his Stillwell lot behind Nathan’s was being held up by the fact that the theater required an amusement element to it. Rumor had it the city wanted him to put a ride on the roof. How cool would that be? As long as Sitt can’t be bothered to install the minimum amusements required by the new zoning in his first building in Coney Island — a couple of tiny arcades– don’t hold your breath.

Thor's Coney Island

Thor’s Coney Island: West 12th Street and Surf Avenue. Concession Stands and Bank of Coney Island Building Demolished in 2010. The 2009 Rezoning Allows 30 Story Hotels to be Built Here and Other Thor-owned Parcels. August 25, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related posts on ATZ…

June 18, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Shoe Store Invades Amusement Area

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

October 7, 2012: ATZ’s Big Wish List for the New Coney Island

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

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Surf Ave. Lot for Lease next to Stillwell Terminal

Surf Ave. Lot for Lease next to Stillwell Terminal. December 23, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Last week leases went out to two fast food restaurants for space in a two-story commercial building to be built on the long vacant lot next to Coney Island’s Stillwell Terminal. Built to suit/subdivide, the new building will have 10,000 square feet on the first floor and 5,000 square feet on the second floor.

Although the broker could not disclose the names of the restaurants until the leases are signed, the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying for weeks that Popeye’s Chicken would reopen at this location. Popeye’s owner began looking at space on the north side of Surf after getting booted out of the Henderson Building by Thor Equities. Popeye’s had been at the Henderson location for 27 years.

ATZ obtained the plans for the 1223 Surf Avenue building from broker Joe Vitacco of Jacob Gold Realty. “We sent out leases for two spaces, both on the left side of the property. They will be fast food,” said Vitacco. But there’s still room for more. “The remaining space, which is about 4,500 square feet, could be a restaurant by itself or in conjunction with the 5,000 square foot second floor that will have a 4,500 square foot terrace overlooking Surf. There will be an elevator connecting the first and second floors. The second floor will be 22 feet above grade and will have a panoramic view of the ocean.” The plans for the second story show a terrace that is approximately 27 feet deep by 65 feet wide. Takers?

Plan for Surf Ave Building

Second Floor: Plan for Two Story Commercial Building at 1223 Surf Avenue in Coney Island

When ATZ asked what’s the other fast food restaurant? Vitacco said, “You’ll be surprised.” If you’d like to hazard a guess, go right ahead and post a comment. Keep in mind that Stillwell Terminal already has Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins and Subway franchises. There’s a McDonald’s Cafe at Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues.

According to Vitacco, the price of the lease depends upon how much work the tenant requires of the landlord beyond a shell. “We are leaving that on a case by case decision,” he says. “The plans have been filed we need approval then permits then we will have an idea as when it will be ready.” The 1223 Surf Avenue property was previously owned by Horace Bullard, who also owns the nearby Shore Theater, which is for sale for $12 million. Vitacco represented Bullard in the sale of this property to Fox 18 Realty LLC and now has the exclusive to represent the owner in the leasing of the property.

Plan for Two Story Commercial Building

First Floor: Plan for Two Story Commercial Building 1223 Surf Avenue in Coney Island

The lot has been vacant since 2001, when the Giuliani administration repeatedly ticketed and finally got rid of the flea market that had operated on the lot since the 1980s. The headline in the Daily News read “CONEY SMALL BIZ BLITZ STORM OF TICKETS TIED TO DEBUT OF CYCLONES.”

Prior to the flea market, independent rides have come and gone for as far back as anyone can recall. In the late 1940s and 1950s, the Pinto Brothers, who also manufactured kiddie rides on 8th Street in Coney Island, operated a Whip here and a Crazy Ghost ride nearby. In the 1960s this location was home to McCullough’s Illions carousel, which was moved from Surf and 15th Street, until it was dismantled in 1968. A Sky Rapids water slide a Jumbo coaster that resembled a Jumbo Jet, and go karts took turns operating there in the 1970s.

UPDATE August 2, 2012

New Building Breaks Ground Next to Coney Island’s Stillwell Terminal

Sky Rapids Ride

Sky Rapids Ride on Surf Avenue, Coney Island January 1, 1979. Photo by Abe Feinstein via Coney Island History Project

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December 2, 2010: Under Construction: Luna Park Coney Island’s $1.4M Sodexo-Run Restaurant & More

November 21, 2010: Goodbye (Or Maybe Not?) to My Coney Island Equivalent of Proust’s Madeleine

August 23, 2010: Vid: Thor’s Coney Island: After 3 Decades, Last Supper at Popeye’s & Au Revoir Souvenirs

May 11, 2010: 21st Century Bars: Coney Island’s Freak Bar Featured in New Book

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