Thor Equities Offers Coney Island Boardwalk Businesses Another Year
Brooklyn Daily Eagle 9/19/2007
By Sarah Ryley
Eight businesses on the Coney Island boardwalk, including Nathan’s Famous, the Lola Staar gift shop and Shoot the Freak, will be offered lease agreements for next year, according to a spokesman for their landlord, Thor Equities.
“The eight vendors who work on the boardwalk have today been offered renewals for next summer,” said Stefan Friedman. “We just started offering today, but the majority of them, if not all of them, are going to be renewed at the same rate.”
Thor Equities has over the past two years amassed nearly all of the property in the heart of Coney Island’s amusement district, save for the land beneath the Wonder Wheel, which is still owned by Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and beneath the Cyclone, which is owned by the city.
The company, which has submitted a proposal to transform the amusement district into a year-round resort and amusement destination complete with high-rise hotels, has been in contentious negotiations with the city over the zoning changes necessary to build such a project. So far, city officials have said publicly that they refuse to grant Thor’s zoning request, and many had feared that, as a result, the amusement district would be left dark next season while Thor decides what to do with its property.
But as of yesterday, that may not be the case anymore — Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park still has 13 years left on its lease, and if the boardwalk vendors accept lease renewals, Astroland Amusement Park is the only main attraction shrouded in uncertainty.
Dianna Carlin, owner of Lola Staar and leader of the “Save Coney Island” campaign, said she received a call from a Thor Equities representative yesterday promising a lease agreement at the same rate for next year, but has so far not received the actual paperwork.
“I’ve definitely had issues with leases and Thor Equities in the past, but hopefully they’ll follow through with their word and get a Lola Staar [lease] agreement for next season. I’m excited,” said Carlin.
She added that the representative who contacted her didn’t know if the lease would contain a clause barring her from speaking to customers and the press about Coney Island development, which she refused to sign last season but ended up getting a lease anyway.
Steve Bitezakis, owner of Steve’s Grill House, said, when asked if he’d received the paperwork for his lease, “No I haven’t, but it’s okay. Everything is okay.”
Friedman said the offers had just been made yesterday, and that the necessary paperwork and meetings would soon follow.
Much of the land beneath Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was recently sold to Thor Equities, but the Vouderis family, who operate the park, have 13 years remaining on their lease. Last year, the Albert Family sold its land beneath Astroland to Thor Equities for $30 million, and have so far unsuccessfully been able to secure another spot for the rides on city owned land for next season.
Carol Hill Albert had earlier told the Eagle that Thor was asking for $3 million in rent next season (a figure Friedman has refuted), which is far more than the $170,000 the Alberts paid this year to stay open. She could not be reached for comment in time for this report, and spokesmen for Astroland and Thor Equities both said the parties are still in negotiations.