Save Coney Island Issues Action Plan

Thor's vision for its Surf Avenue properties

We received the following e-mail from Save Coney Island, a group dedicated to, um, saving Coney Island. To give you the gist: in order to help preserve the district’s character, the group asked the Landmarks Preservation Committee to create a historic district that would protect many of the buildings on and around Surf Avenue from demolition. However, LPC is a notoriously slow agency, and developer Thor Equities is moving quickly to destroy the buildings before the LPC has a chance to evaluate them. Save Coney Island is trying to halt that from happening, and has created an action plan for residents to help stop “Thor’s Hammer” in mid-swing. You can learn more about Save Coney Island at their website. Below is their e-mail.

Last week, Thor Equities announced that it would immediately begin demolishing the historic buildings that it owns along Surf Avenue in the amusement district. This could mean the end of historic Coney Island. The threatened structures include the Grashorn Building (built in the 1880s), the Henderson Music Hall (built circa 1900), the Shore Hotel (built circa 1903), and the Bank of Coney Island (built circa 1923).

These buildings have great historical and cultural significance: They provide a link to the period of Coney Island’s emergence as the world’s greatest amusement area. They also offer tremendous potential to provide a unique Coney Island experience if they are restored and reused.

Don’t let Thor to destroy Coney Island’s history and ruin the amusement area for future generations.

Save Coney Island, working with other groups such as Coney Island USA, is applying to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for the creation of a historic district that would preserve these and other buildings from Coney Island’s heyday. These buildings should serve as a historic core around which to develop a new and exciting 21st-century Coney Island.

Thor’s mad rush to begin demolition is a clear attempt to get rid of these buildings before the LPC can even evaluate the merits of a Coney Island Historic District.

Rather than find ways to contribute to the success of summer 2010 in Coney Island, Thor would turn the district’s commercial heart into a vast demolition zone. In the place of these historic buildings, Thor says it plans to build a collection of retail structures by the summer of 2011. The New York Observer described its plans for the sites as “simple – presumably cheap – (temporary) one-story retail.”  It went on to characterize Thor’s renderings as “almost designed to inspire distaste.”

Thor is threatening to forever dash the possibility of a revitalized historic core for Coney Island’s amusement district. We are putting together a campaign to prevent that from happening, and we need your help.

Here’s what you can do:

1) CALL:
Coney Island’s City Council member, Domenic Recchia (718-373-9673),
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (718-802-3700),
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (212-669-7817),
and tell them:

  • Preserving and reusing Coney Island’s historic buildings is essential to its successful redevelopment.
  • A historic district should be created to maintain a connection to Coney Island’s heyday.
  • Stop Thor’s plans to demolish Coney Island’s historic buildings.
  • They need to act now, before it’s too late.

We are working to raise public awareness about this urgent threat to Coney Island’s remaining historical structures and to promote the creation of a historic district in a renewed Coney Island amusement area. We have designed printed materials to distribute for this campaign but we need funds to print them. Please help our efforts by making a donation.

3) ACT
We will be organizing a public event on this issue soon. We would like you to attend. Please stay tuned for further details. We need you to make your voice heard.


Thank you for your quick action on this important issue!!


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