Thursday, June 07, 2007

Childs Restaurant To House Temporary Businesses

One of the highlights of yesterday's panel discussion at the Municipal Arts Society's Special Advocacy Program: Coney Island On the Cusp of Change was by Ari Shalam of Taconic Investment Partners and their immediate and future plans for the Childs Restaurant building, which they acquired last August with a 49-year lease and option to buy.

The Childs building was a very difficult transaction, said Shalam. Early on when the team ventured out and saw vacant lots they asked themselves, why. With the then new public investment of the Stilwell Terminal and the ball stadium they wondered why private investors didn't follow. Immediately they had a vision about what would benefit this area and bring back those vacant lots to life. Although Shalam felt that Keyspan Park only served to shrink the possibility to exapand the amusement district, he knew; despite that, the area west of the stadium still had plenty of potential. But a potential for the kind of growth that wasn't going to displace anyone. At the time of Taconic’s first land purchases, the
Coney Island Development Corporation was releasing their Coney Island Strategic Development Plan for the area. They had agreed with the plans for residential and mixed-retail, west of the amusement district.

Ari Shalam was passionate in describing Taconic's immediate and future plans for the Childs building. They plan on making the structure a marquee food operation with restaurant and catering. And not just a walk-in-from-the-beach restaurant but more of a finer-dining-with-reservations-required family restaurant. The establishment’s grand archways would be fully open to the boardwalk to draw people in. Smaller food eateries would be at the base with the higher floor for a restaurant. The building boasts a 30 foot height possibly allowing for an additional level. And so, the top floor and roof would be for a large scale catering facility. Ari described the magnificent feel of being on the roof within the remnants of a once fabulous beer garden. He envisioned a perfect place for a grand wedding overlooking the ocean and Coney Island.

Taconic is so anxious to get things moving NOW that they are planning to have a few one-year temporary food outlets and store fronts as soon as possible. And ready towards the end of this summer season.

They have been currently gutting and cleaning out the building’s interior and installing a security alarm system. They are also in the works preparing for a few possible functions hopefully to tie in with some of the events this June 23rd. Look out for further details.

Shalam said they are still working out the future plans which are dependent on the zoning changes in order to figure out how the money would be spent.

Shalam also went on to say, “In order to get rid of the seasonality is to have more residential”. He also noted that Taconic is excited to be working closely with the city to stay within the vision of the strategic plans to preserve the spirit of Coney Island.

Another promising point, that Lynn Kelly, president of the CIDC indicated was that all developers and everyone involved with future development will definitely have to comply with specific designs and aesthetic schemes that are in tune with the character of Coney Island and laid out in the plans. She also stressed out loud that this is NOT the last season for Coney Island.

More details on the panel discussion coming up.

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