Thor Reveals Soulless Vision for Surf Ave.

thor-surf-ave-042910.jpgThor Equities released its vision for a $10 million remake of a string of small buildings it owns along Surf Avenue yesterday, spelling doom for the Henderson building (aka the Surf Hotel) along with three other hundred-year-old buildings and confirming fears that the company just doesn’t get it. If you believe that Coney Island should be a unique experience, and not feel like a visit to a generic chain-store mall, it’s hard not to be disappointed, as The Observer was:

The renderings he released, touting his $10 million investment, seem almost designed to inspire distaste. Renderings, by their nature, are fabrications, and developers often put pictures of whatever people want to see (such as gigantic roller coasters that will never be built). Mr. Sitt has gone the other direction, choosing instead to 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.

Thor’s goal is to have the new buildings up and running with concessions by Memorial Day next year, which is why they are starting immediately.

Coney Blog Kinetic Carnival offered this reaction:

Thor Equities wants to make good business use of his parcels even though it sacrifices a couple of Coney’s last remaining historiec structures. These Payless shoe boxes with poster billboards don’t even pay homage to the Henderson or the Grashorn building. Instead they are simple Trump-like eye sores. It seems that behind it, this is only something to present while covering the real reason: A need to quickly demolish these two historic two-story buildings so that they won’t be in the way for much larger development in the future.

Thor has a different spin about the new offerings, describing them as “family-friendly games, food, shopping and other activities that visitors to, and residents of, Coney are clamoring for.” One commenter on the Coney Island Boards posed this question, worthy of consideration: “Cant [Sitt] rehab the existing structure or is he just looking to looking for a nice reason to remove Henderson?” The answer is clearly yes, as Coney Island’s unofficial mayor, Dick Zigun, pointed out to The Daily News: “They are buildings of quality, with interesting architecture, with fascinating prior histories, and in a more enlightened environment would be rehabbed for 21st-century use rather than destroyed [so that] everything looks like it’s off the highway in New Jersey.”
Sitt Sees Fast Food in Place of Current Buildings [NYO]
Sitt Has No Plans for Coney Lots [NY Daily News]
Thor Equities Reveals Coney Plans [Brooklyn Eagle]
Thor Sacrifices Coney History for Money [Kinetic Carnival]
Photo from Scouting NY

0 Comment

  • All Sitt cares about is money. It’s that simple. Behind all the bluster, he does what he knows. Sitt leases out malls to the largest bidding national chains. That is what he is doing for Coney. Fact is, many of the customers of Coney would prefer Taco Bell and BK to local vendors. The crowds that go to Coney are not the same crowd that goes to Brooklyn Flea. If Sitt had his way, the Brooklyn Wal-Mart would be built on the Boardwalk or at his land in Red Hook.

    If you want some sort of standards they will have to be imposed on Sitt. All he sees are lease spaces for national chains and cellphone stores. Sitt does malls, not culture or quaintness.

  • he’s merely catering to the “new” new yorkers.


  • to clarify my comment… i mean the concept of turning every nook and cranny of nyc into a “family friendly” atmosphere. that’s essentially what i find reprehensible.


  • Craptastic! As much as I would love to see Coney restored to its historic roots, it just will not be. That was a different time, a time before Taco Bell, let’s savor the moment that was.

  • The article notes that the structure is temporary. Would a major fast food chain take on a short term lease? If the location would be a franchise, I would think not.

  • When even the rendering (dream-like ideal) looks like a rest stop on the Thruway, you know reality will bite.

  • This literally looks like something from twenty five years ago. There is a unique artistic community already in place that they are not taking advantage of. This is not for “new New Yorkers” it`s an old tired out vision of what America wanted decades ago.

  • I think Sitt is smart to be targeting the people who live nearby and travel through the Stillwell Avenue station every day, rather than the Brownstoners who might visit Coney Island once or twice a summer as a goof.

  • Ditto what Sparafucile said. Let me be more blunt. No businessman in his right mind is going to develop a business model that relies on brownstoners slumming it in Coney Island once or twice a year, so as to ratchet up their feelings of “authenticity”.

  • the white elephant in the room just farted.


  • Rob;

    Hope I didn’t hit you in the eye!


  • rob! LOL!!!!!!!!!

    Coney Island is supposed to be a unique place- not a strip mall. They want to build up the area again and the best thing they’ve got is the whole Coney Island brand, as it were. It’s one of those iconic NYC places and the more they cater to that, the more people will come to play there. Its a smart business decision and has nothing to do with the brownstowner crowd. It will be a destination, no one will be “slumming”.

  • Remember, this structure is planned to be temporary – might as well make some money off the locals until the economy recovers and then build the high rises that will cater to neither those that live nearby nor authenticity seekers.

  • I agree with Bxgrl more than Benson. I think in a place like Brooklyn where single family homes go for millions of dollars, a smart businessman wouldn’t try to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Trying to make things more old-timey and upscale will draw a crowd with deeper pockets.

    However, Coney Island was and is a slum. Most people that live there are either section 8 or live in public housing. Until that changes, by definition when a middle class person goes there they are “slumming it.” Not saying it can’t change, when I was growing up in the 80’s Park Slope was a slum…

  • To the best of my knowledge, no Joe Sitt rendering has ever come to fruition. At least not in Brooklyn. His methods are repetitive enough to be predictable. He very likely will tear these buildings down. He is very unlikely to develop anything on the land. Joe Sitt is not a developer (again, at least not in Brooklyn). He buys land, blights it, demands zoning changes to eliminate the blight he has created, and then flips the property in question. I suspect a truer rendering for these properties would feature school buses parked on a bed of gravel.

  • 10 million dollars and it looks like all they will do is add billboards and awnings.

  • $10 million is a pittance in terms of redevelopment of a retail/entertainment district the size of Coney. As difficult as it is for some of us to face, the Coney Island of yesteryear is really just a memory.

  • I realize that it’s unrealistic to think that an investment might be made into turning Coney Island into anything resembling it’s glory years, but this vision of the future is just depressing.

    Taking an area that’s already economically depressed and providing it’s residents with low quality, unhealthy, cheap food options…nice move. Way to “cater to the neighborhood”.

  • Joe: When I was growing up in Park Slope in the 1980s, the biggest problem was theft of the car radio. I would hardly have called it a slum. Which Park Slope did you live in?

  • parkplacer- especially when the developer has no real vision or creative imagination.

  • I grew up in Marine Park and yes, compared to Marine Park, Park Slope was a slum. It was filled with junkies and was a high crime area, at least compared to where I lived. Canarsie was also a much safer area than Park Slope at the time. I take from your tone that this might turn into another pointless back-and-forth. If that’s the case,don’t expect a response.

  • The current state of climate change says that sea level will be up to 4 feet higher by the end of this century. So this place is likely to be at or below sea level in not many more years. I don’t expect any long term development to be here by the end of the 21st century. Sitt will do something quick, take the money, and develop something that’s not on the ocean if he’s smart.

    Don’t plan on passing property in Flatlands, Coney, or Marine Park on to your grandchildren, unless they like living on house boats.