Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lola Staar Escapes From The ‘Clause’ Of Thor

Dianna Carlin founder of the ‘long tunnel of pink fabulousness’, that was the Lola Staar Boutique, has let loose from the entanglement she claims has been a negative dealing with Thor Equities.

Thor placed a confidentiality clause in the new leases for their tenants. This is just one of the rumors by other store and amusement operators about some of the behind-the-scenes dealings with Thor. Out of respect for them, mum has been the word.

Carlin spoke to Metro’s Amy Zimmer about her relationship with Thor, which at the beginning was a positive one. However she was not in agreement with the lease which included a clause that forbade tenants to speak about the development in the neighborhood. Regardless, over a month ago she decided to sign the lease.
“I so badly wanted another summer in Coney Island”, said Carlin.
A few days later Thor rejected to execute the lease and instead evicted here. Now free from the binds of the contract she is ready to talk about her experience.
“They’re trying to deceive everyone into believing they will create amusements,” Carlin said. “They just want to play hardball with the city to get the zoning changed so they can build condos on the boardwalk.” Current zoning does not allow that.
Carlin is sure that Thor has been putting up a facade about the amusements but are actually more concerned with building condos over most of the property they purchased - leaving the limited amusements as a public amenity courtesy of the condos. Perhaps with even expected curfews and limitations that would be required by condo owners. This has been speculated by many but it's the first time someone directly dealing with Thor is coming out with it.

It appears that she has contacted a few media platforms, in addition to Metro, including various blogs about discussing her ordeal. Hopefully with Carlin’s aid we can come up with a clearer picture of what Thor’s real intentions are for the area. Everything they have presented, so far, contradicts each other and sounds delusional on the part of Thor Equities.

Not Quiet On Coney Island: Thor Wants Towers, say Lola [Metro] PDF file
(Non PDF file) [Metro]

Related HOOPLA !

Freak to city: Good job [The Brooklyn Paper]
My Brooklyn: 2006 Winners [Brooklyn Public Library]
City plans new amphitheater with seating capacity of 5,000 [Courier Life]
Triumph of the Weenies!!! [Karrie Jacobs]

Gowanus Lounge:
Speak No Evil: Thor Coney Tenants Required to Sign Confidentiality Clause
Coney Island Death Watch: Demolition Porn Update
"© Snapple Coney Island Park, Inc."
Meet Mr. Wallace, Coney Island Sign Artist

photo by: Brit in Brooklyn


Desktop Day: Coney Island Art [Brit in Brooklyn]
Desktop Day: Clean Version [Brit in Brooklyn]
Brooklyn Back in the Day: Coney Island [Gowanus Lounge]
Sunset Over Coney Island Beach [photoGRAPHICA]
Gowanus Lounge Photo Du Jour: End [Gowanus Lounge]

GL Brooklyn Sunday TV [Gowanus Lounge]
Deep Coney [YouTube]
New York City Google Earth Fly Over [YouTube]
You've Got To Ride The Wonder Wheel [YouTube]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Sea Life" Carousel in Battery Park To Link With Coney

The Battery Conservancy envisions a new installation at Battery park. A culturally themed master plan to redevelop the park in the form of a glass carousel called "Sea Glass" (weisz + yoes architecture), which one of its proposed benefits would be to link to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island via a ferry.

“I see it as a real creative magnet that would enhance the park and through it, hopefully, spark curiosity,” said Warrie Price, president of the conservancy, the public-private partnership that maintains the park. “I really want the magic and excitement to get people to learn more and think about conservation. I want New Yorkers to fall in love with the Battery all over again.” said Price to New York's Metro Magazine.

The Sea Glass Carousel would be made of "smart glass" which transforms itself from transparent to dark blue with images of fish projected into it. Which reminds us of Thor's fanciful daydream of giant holographic images of whales greeting visitors upon exiting the Stillwell terminal on Surf Avenue.

The project still needs to hurdle through political hoops and raise public money to cover $6 million in construction costs, of which $1.65 million has already been raised. Of the $5 million of private money needed for the project’s maintenance, the conservancy has $2.4 million.

As Price quoted in the Metro Magazine:

“This is the first time we really used a waterfront cultural destination to link with a cultural destination in another borough,” Price said.

Allan Gerson who represents Lower Manhattan said he hopes the plan would generate support and kick off the ferry service to Coney Island and the Rockaways. "I'd like to get a pilot or limited-run service this summer", he added. "It would take 27 minutes to get to Coney Island [by ferry] and another 10 to the Rockaways.

As further reported in the Metro:
Gerson did not have a cost estimate for the plan, but he sees it as a recreation connection for his constituents who want to go to beaches and a commuter connection for Brooklyn and Queens residents. “Our city has underutilized its waterways,” Gerson said. “We can do better. It’s an idea
whose time has come.”
If this project becomes a reality it could perhaps secure a better chance to keep the importance of amusements in Coney. Something that every day looks more and more bleak with Thor's proposed and still-vague plans to keep amusements in Coney while working towards shrinking the amusement zone.

Carousel links Battery Park, Coney Island, Rockaways [Metro]

Sea Glass animation movie can be viewed here

Surf Avenue Pedestrian Bridge

Architect firm weisz + yoes who took part and designed the West 8: New York Aquarium Perimeter Competition, has been working with the New York City Department of Design and Construction on a new pedestrian bridge over Surf Avenue that, if constructed, will span Surf Avenue at West 8th Street

As the firm's website states:

Our recent work for the New York City Department of Design and Construction on a new pedestrian bridge spanning Surf Avenue at West 8th Street has given us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the newly imagined future of Coney Island and with the Aquarium and its ambitious plans. Our bridge design, which has received committee-level preliminary approval from the Art Commission, is based on the idea that the Aquarium is the critical anchor for one end of the world-famous Coney Island entertainment district. We therefore designed a new parabolic bridge that launches itself across Surf Avenue - connecting the new West 8/Aquarium BMT station to the Aquarium but also providing a formal and iconic marker for the presence of the Aquarium and one end of Coney Island.

As the firm also indicates, the project is ongoing. Weisz + yoes are also working with the city to build a 'Sea Life' carousel and ocean themed park with 'rides' at Battery Park in Manhattan.

Prepping For Ole Coney's Final Season 2007

With a reprieve from the stream of bitingly cold days full of hard frozen snow, the mild temperatures today brought out many at Coney.

Slumming from Surf Avenue to the boardwalk and even the pier, many were eager to get a taste of the looming summer. The arcade game operators including Astroland workers were out at full force prepping up and stocking their businesses for what many feel will be the end of Coney as we knew it.

Many of the businesses had their gates swung open with boxes and merchandise filling their operations. Astroland maintenance crew were revamping some of the mechanics on some of the rides.

The businesses along the boardwalk were quiet except for a few men sitting in front of Ruby's and Cha Cha's. Both establishments are supposed to be opened one last time this season. Sadly, Lola's Boutique who was one of few on the boardwalk evicted has already gone, including the sign that stood above the entrance.

Monday, February 19, 2007

2nd Thor Flyer Mass Mailing

Thor Equities has sent out another batch of flyers to residents of Coney Island for the second attempts at collecting responses to their project. With just a few added details from their web site: The Future of Coney Island, this one comes in blue. The flyer link which was posted on the CIUSA bulletin board can be viewed here: Thor Mailing #2.

As Gowanus Lounge has pointed out with the last flyer, saying that the low grade graphic quality's purpose is to persuade the local residents that this is coming from witin the community and therefore must be what's good of the community.

Furthermore, there is as of yet no mention of their plans or designs for the luxury hotel and condos.

CIUSA bulletin board [CIUSA]

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Residential Adjacent To Amusements Incompatible, Says City

photo by AKinloch (

Thor Equities is getter further pressure from the city as Chairwoman Amanda Burden criticized the part of Thor’s plan that calls for residential condominium towers to be erected on part of what is currently the amusement zone.

While at a Crain’s New York breakfast presentation Burden said, “Amusements are incompatible with immediate adjacent residential use.".

Although the New York Sun reported that the city is signaling a no-go for the luxury towers, what seems to be only evident is a continuing courtship between Thor and the City.

The New York Sun reports:
The developer [Thor] says it must finance the amusements with the inclusion of about 700 luxury condominiums along the boardwalk. Market studies show that they need both the extra people and added revenue from the units to make the development financially viable, Thor Equities has said. Last month, the developer threatened to scuttle its plans for the amusement park if the city disallows the residential apartments.
What sounds a bit confusing is that Ms. Burden claims that she is in agreement with rezoning the area for ‘allowance’ of building residential units in the ‘surrounding area’, calling it important for the project. And she goes on stating that, however, residential units in the ‘heart’ of the amusement district would detract form the overall revitalization. What sounds vague is that what is already zoned for amusements is what most consider already the heart of the amusement district. To rezone any of that area is the same as allowing the residential in the heart of it, anyway.

Whatever decision is ultimately reached after all this plays out between Thor and City, any zoning changes are going to have to be made through the city’s uniform land use review process (ULURP), which also requires approval from the Planning Commission and the City Council

Silberstein has said, “We continue to work with the administration to formulate a plan that can be implemented for Coney Island".

City Signals No-Go for Coney Island Luxury Tower [NY Sun]

New Coney blog: "Only Coney" the daily image blog!

Thanks to Gowanus Lounge for coming across a great new Coney blog, this one dedicated to images of Coney on a daily basis. In addition, the Only Coney photoblog features other links related to Coney Island; A section of 'What to see', 'Getting to Coney Island', Coney News links, other various Coney tid-bits, and even a section for Kinetic Carnival links. Also some Coney reading and of course to the pool of Coney photos at at the Only Coney Flickr group.

Gowanus Lounge says:

Coney deserves a photoblog that showcases great photos, and it's articularly important as Southern Brooklyn's Riveria begins to change in fundamental ways. (We strongly believe that one of the many vital things that bloggers are doing in Brooklyn is providing an important visual record of fast-changing neighborhoods.) "Only Coney" is the work of the good people behind the excellent Brit in Brooklyn blog, which often features excellent Coney Island photos as part of its mix. Welcome!!!

Only Coney Daily Photoblog

New Brooklyn Blog Alert #1: Only Coney [Gowanus Lounge]

Hoopla HOOPLA!

In Coney Island, developer learns from Atlantic Yards [Atlantic Yards Project]
Sanitized, Vegas-style Coney Island coming soon [New Yorkology]
Coney Island to turn into shitty mall for jerks [Meathaus Enterprises]
Coney developer's Web site omits luxe housing proposal [NY Daily News]

Gowanus Lounge:

Reasons to Worry About Coney Island's Future, Part 45
Rant of the Day: "Coney Island to Turn Into Shitty Mall for Jerks
Coney Island Fact Check: Two-Story Carousel at Freehold Mall

Only Coney - the new photoblog dediated to Coney Island
Coney Island Fog [Brooklyn Enthusiast]
Coney Island 1 [Satan's Laundromat - a photo blog]


Coney Aquarium Renovation Animation [Gowanus Lounge]

Saturday, February 10, 2007

City Kow-Tows To Thor’s Hammer

Last week, the city held a special sit-down meeting with Thor to discuss the easing back of their previous stance against cutting off slivers of the amusement areas in the name of rezoning. Or at least as they’ve also stressed before: to ensure that Coney’s main attraction be attractions.

As the Bay News reported they seem to be doing both, anyway:

The city may be closer to allowing for some residential housing in the amusement and entertainment district of Coney Island.
At the meeting were Markowitz, City council member Domenic Reccia, Coney Island Development Corporation Chair and the city’s point man on the area Josh Sirefman, and Thor Equities president Joe Sitt.
All present mutually agreed that the main focus of Coney should stay as an amusement and entertainment district that is private sector driven, but where the means is from the public sector.

However, if the main focus is on the amusement and entertainment areas - by curtailing what is already a diminished amusement area – what will likely stand out will be high rise luxury condominiums that Thor commanded are priority to ensure the project to go forward.

The city did go on to state that they want to ensure a “nice amountof amusement and entertainment uses that allow for residential units to be built.

Nice amount mean the city is now in open agreement with reducing the amusement zone to allow more space to build the condominiums.

Therefore it seems that the condominiums will probably either be part of what is now Astroland or perhaps Thor is intending to place the residential buildings in their other lots. Where the mini golf course sat, the batting cages and go-karts were, or where the Henderson building is. (though that lot may be too small).

There was no mention about a hotel in the Bay News article about the meeting. According to the latest artist rendering of Coney Island Park, it may be that the ghostly building standing at Surf Avenue and towering over the rest of the small amusement area could be the hotel.

Either way, this is all indicating that Thor is tightening their reign over the city and will have the rezoning they are aiming for.

One positive point from the city is that they want to also ensure some kind of formula to secure the amusements which would be through the issuance of special permits while building. Not to allow temporary certificates of occupancy (TCO) for the construction of any residential building until a good portion of the amusement and entertainment area of the project is at some certain phase of construction. If the city sticks to gaining this formula, then it will demonstrate that they are serious about the importance of the amusement area - even though it will, most likely, be much smaller that it is now.

All in all it may seem understandable that a private sector is needed to make the amusement area feasible. But it would have been great if Thor and Taconic purchased more property at the outskirts of the main amusement district and build the condos and hotel there.

At conclusion, the meeting was adjourned with the agreement of spearheading the rezoning because, as Thor has demanded, it is the only way for Coney Island to stay clear of its impending doom scenario: of it being flattened down to a huge oasis of empty lots greeting us as we exit the Stillwell terminal and scoffing at them as we rush towards the uncrowded beach.

Thrills, chills and housing - Developers push residential units for amusement area [Bay News]

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thor Dishes Out Their Future Of Coney Website

Thor's PR firm (The Marino Organization) launches the website for their proposed new Coney Island: The Future Of Coney Island. Flashed across the limited website offers the various fantastical renderings that were reshaped and rehashed throughout the summer.

However, what has been consistent with them are the discreetness of the controversial parts of the plans which are the development of luxury housing high-rises along the boardwalk. The site offers the promise of jobs for the communities, how the project will serve the community, a comments page which they will post only the positive and the praise, and on their amusements page, the site has the coaster running in and out of 'proposed' buildings once again.

It would be interesting to see if Thor answers to the many discussions about them omitting their housing plans from all their news flashes and advertisements.

Coney developer's Web site omits luxe housing proposal [NY Daily News]
Thor's Coney Island Website Launches [Gowanus Lounge]
New Coney Website Plays Up Rides, Hides the Housing [Curbed]

"Old" Coney's Last Summer Still To Have Some New

Despite, what will probably be an emotional 'last Coney summer' for some - lamenting Astroland's last hurrah, a growing number of new empty lots, closed up stores, and long-gone rides - there will still be a few great things coming up this 2007 summer.

For one, the Cyclone turns 80 this year and there will be an on-going event planned around that.
And there are also plans for the Astrotower to be the center of a guided tour with a Museum-in-the-Sky Aerial Photography exhibit. All this and a few other surprises coming this summer.

As sources further elaborate on these events, they will be posted here.

Lola Staar: Coney's Souvenir Boutique Has Been Evicted

As reported by Gowanus Lounge yesterday, The Lola Staar Boutique has been kicked out by Thor Equities. Though some of the other stores (Ruby's Bar & Grill and Cha Cha's) along the boardwalk next to Lola's will still be open until the end of this last summer of 2007, The Coney Island pink souvenir boutique will cease to operate from their boardwalk location. Dianna Carlin who operates Lola Staar has in the past supported the change and development of Coney Island and supported what Thor Equities's plans for Coney.

Lounge writes:

Given that the Lola Staar store is one of the gems of Coney Island--a unique
establishment that sells original Coney merchandise--the fact that it will not
be there this summer raises interesting questions about Thor's vision for the

Carlin still plans to find another space somewhere in Coney Island to set up shop. Lola Staar is open during the winter at the Union Square Holiday Market and from kiosks at various retail stores around the world.

C I Death Watch: Lola Staar Boutique Evicted [Gowanus Lounge]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Coney Island Early Demolition Photos by Gowanus Lounge

These set of pictures showing the first demolition to erase what has been Coney for the last few decades, were taken and posted by the great Gowanus Lounge. By now many have speculated that the clearance of these lots, owned by Thor Equities is not only in preparation for development but are being cleared to facilitate the leverage to pass the rezoning Thor claims they need in order to make the project feasible.

From Gowanus Lounge:
To see the full flickr demolition photoset click here and to see the slideshow of Coney Island demolition porn, click here.

C I Death Watch: Early Demolition Porn [Gowanus Lounge]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Old Coney Rides Film "Canned Thrills" (1927)

Here is a great film presented by Grantland Rice demon-strating what great thrilling fun Coney goers had getting on all those wonderful rides of yesteryear. It's great to see how much fun people were able to have before the days of too many lawyers and accident cases.

Regardless, this is what Coney needs to have again. Great rides and attractions that will wow and thrill us.

"Canned Thrills" (1927) by dutchmazz (

Zigun Wants Hot Dog and Franchise For Coney

photo by Genial23 (

Dick Zigun spoke to the New York Sun yesterday saying that he is for development of the kind that brings in visitors in larger numbers. He said Coney Island is broken and is willing to sacrifice a bit of Coney's charm in exchange for progress - with results by 2011.

"Let's be realistic," he said. "It's called progress. Although you lose a certain amount of charm, hopefully you have good-quality major attractions."

Mr. Zigun is working on capitalizing the world-wide commodity that is Coney Island to appeal to larger venues like The House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafe which would bring in big-name performers along with large crowds. He is also working hard to keep Coney institutions like Nathan's Famous.

However, Zigun disagrees with Thor's plans for building condos.

Some of the neighborhood's mainstays, such as the aquarium, the Cyclone roller coaster, and his own Coney Island Museum, will survive the deluge of new construction, he said, but added that there is no reason to freeze
the scene at a certain moment in time.

Richard Zigun Rides Out Coney Island's Ups and Downs [NY Sun]