Today we released renderings demonstrating the great potential of historic structures in Coney Island currently threatened with demolition by developer Thor Equities.
The renderings imagine what two of Coney Island’s most historically significant buildings could become if they were preserved, restored and reused in the context of a revitalized Coney Island. They depict the Coney Island amusement district’s oldest surviving building, the Grashorn Building (built around 1889), and the Henderson’s Music Hall (built 1899), where Harpo Marx first publicly performed with his brothers Groucho and Gummo.
Developer Thor Equities has indicated that it plans to immediately begin demolishing these and other buildings that it owns along Surf Avenue. Save Coney Island, in coalition with other Coney Island and preservationist groups, has called for the creation of a Coney Island Historic District along Surf Avenue to safeguard these and other historic buildings.
“These renderings show that the historic buildings of Coney Island still have life in them and still have a future,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s now up to the City to say whether that’s better than acres of rubble.” To view these remarkable renderings, click the link below:
Along with the Grashorn and Henderson’s buildings, other threatened structures include the Shore Hotel (built 1903), which until recently had been Coney Island’s last operational hotel, and the Coney Island Bank, a 1923 Neoclassical beauty that signaled the strength of the Coney Island business community.
“The city has done a minimal evaluation of the assets in the neighborhood and we should all be working together to find commercial uses for these wonderful historic buildings to reactivate as many as possible,” Coney Island’s unofficial “mayor” Dick Zigun, artistic director of Coney Island USA.
This coalition believes that these buildings should be preserved as a historic core of a revitalized 21st-century Coney Island amusement district.
“Luna Park re-opened because of Coney Island’s history and popularity,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “The historic buildings are a link to the century-long attraction of Coney Island and those links should remain.”
Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt recently said in an interview with NY1: “Every one of these buildings is just horrible, rundown relics with nothing exciting about them.” Save Coney Island’s renderings prove Sitt wrong.
Thor has said it intends to replace these historic buildings with temporary one-story retail structures. The New York Observer wrote that Thor’s renderings of its proposed replacement buildings are “almost designed to inspire distaste.” The Observer wrote that they “highlight the potential for fast food, slapping a Burger King-like joint on the corner, next to a taco restaurant with signage highly suggestive of Taco Bell.”
Save Coney Island’s new renderings show a better vision for Coney Island’s future — one that also honors its rich past.
“These historic buildings could be the foundation for a spectacular and unique 21st century Coney Island,” said Save Coney Island spokesman Juan Rivero. “But for that too happen we need to think more creatively about the enormous potential of Coney’s built legacy.”