Coney Island

We’re waiting for the makeover of Coney Island’s Shore Theater

Eye on Real Estate: A tax lien on the Surf Avenue property was recently paid

May 10, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Shore Theater, on this prominent Coney Island corner, is in need of a fix-up. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Coney Island’s summer season will soon begin. And the Shore Theater is still sitting there, empty and desolate-looking.

When will the long-vacant — if you don’t count the presence of homeless squatters a few years ago — Roaring Twenties movie palace finally get a makeover?

The neo-Renaissance Revival-style commercial property that was once the pride of Coney Island has belonged to Pyotr Yadgarov since December 2015.

That’s when his real-estate firm Pye Properties purchased 1301 Surf Ave. for $14 million through Shore Tower Group LLC with Pyotr Yadgarov as member, city Finance Department records show.

There is one piece of promising news to report about the iconic seven-story theater and office building. In March, a tax lien on it dating back to 2002 was paid and discharged, Finance Department records indicate.

Otherwise, things are quiet at the golden-brick, stone and terra-cotta building on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues.

We reached out to Yadgarov with a query about what steps he has taken to get the Shore Theater’s restoration and adaptive reuse underway. He hasn’t answered.   

A posting on his company Pye Properties’ website suggests his current plans for 1301 Surf Ave.  

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“The vision is to make the Shore Theater the future cultural epicenter of Coney Island via music, theater and live events,” it says. Plus, there’s a rendering of the building showing a marquee over its front door with the words “Shore Hotel” spelled out in red letters.    

It’s the same drawing that surfaced last summer on brokerage firm Commercial Acquisitions Realty’s website.

At that time, a broker at that firm told Eye on Real Estate he was marketing 3,500 square feet of first-floor retail space with an asking rent of $75 per square foot at the building.

We couldn’t find the Shore Theater listed on Commercial Acquisitions Realty’s site when we looked for it the other day.

Mermaids are dancing on the ceiling

The Shore Theater was designated as an individual city landmark in 2010, so any exterior alterations planned by Pye Properties must be approved by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission.

As is the case with most landmark designations, the property’s exterior is protected from demolition but not its interior. It will be up to Yadgarov to decide whether to preserve eye-popping decorative details inside the historic movie theater.

The auditorium has a dome that’s 150 feet in diameter. There’s a mezzanine where mermaids are dancing on the ceiling — decorative plaster mermaids set in sea-green diamonds.

These decorative details were intact when Coney Island historian Charles Denson was allowed to take photos of the movie theater’s interiors in 2006.

The building was designed by preeminent theater-architecture firm Reilly & Hall and built in 1925. It originally belonged to Chanin Construction Co.

Loew’s operated the movie theater for much of its five-decade run. It was designed for movies and live performances — and notables including Al Jolson and Jerry Lewis appeared on its stage.

Near the end of its days as a movie theater, it was a porn palace.

The building’s previous owner, Horace Bullard, purchased it in 1979. By that time, the movie theater was closed.

The late real-estate investor amassed a portfolio of Coney Island properties — including the Thunderbolt roller coaster, which the Giuliani Administration illegally tore it down in 2000.

Bullard, who wanted to turn the Shore Theater into a hotel and casino, died in 2013.

His daughter Jasmine Bullard was president of his company Kansas Fried Chicken Inc. in 2015 when it sold the Shore Theater to Yadgarov.

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