Hotel makeover for Coney Island’s Shore Theater heads back to the drawing board
Landmarks Preservation Commission Calls for Minor Design Changes
Coney Island’s long-abandoned Shore Theater is going to be fixed up and adaptively reused, and that’s cause for rejoicing.
But not quite yet.
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission decided on Tuesday that Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects’ proposed redesign of the old movie palace and office building at 1301 Surf Ave. is “timid” and “generic.”
Several commissioners used these words in critiquing the plan during a hearing at the preservation agency’s Manhattan headquarters.
They’re pleased Pyotr Yadgarov’s company Pye Properties intends to bring the neo-Renaissance Revival property back to life as a hotel and spa.
The hotel rooms will be constructed inside the seven-story office building. The spa will be constructed inside the theater — a design that the commissioners are not so pleased about.
Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel’s design has erased all hints that a movie theater ever existed at the property on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues, several commissioners said.
So some want architect Randy Gerner to restore and retain the distinctive fire stairs that zigzag along the exterior of the movie theater.
“That hunk of metal is a very noticeable feature” for those who approach the building on Stillwell Avenue, Commissioner Michael Goldblum said.
Others said, if that’s not possible, create some visual echo of the stairs. Or come up with a mural or some other creative concept for the outside of the theater building that reminds people it’s located in Coney Island.
Gerner said at the hearing that the fire stairs are in poor condition and can’t be saved.
The Sign Was a Victim of Superstorm Sandy
Another design element that earned commissioners’ criticism was a vertical cloth banner with the name “Shore Hotel” that would hang on the corner of the building.
The low-key fabric sign would replace a brightly lit blade sign that spelled out the word “SHORE” in capital letters.
Superstorm Sandy damaged the iconic sign, so the property’s prior owner removed it.
Before that, the sign said “LOEW’S,” because 1301 Surf Ave. housed a Loew’s movie theater for five decades.
Landmarks Chairwoman Sarah Carroll said the architects are actually “very close” to having a design plan that can win commissioners’ approval.
The Shore Theater has belonged to Pye Properties since December 2015.
The developer bought it for $14 million, city Finance Department records indicate. The seller was Kansas Fried Chicken Inc. with Jasmine Bullard as president.
Bullard is the daughter of the late Horace Bullard, a real estate investor who owned multiple Coney Island properties and wanted to turn the Shore Theater into a hotel and casino.
His development plans for Coney Island were thwarted at every turn.
For instance, in 2000, the Giuliani Administration illegally demolished the Thunderbolt roller coaster, which belonged to Bullard.
The movie theater was closed by the time Bullard bought it in 1979.
Did you know it was a porn theater for a short while?
Reilly & Hall, a high-profile theater architecture firm of yesteryear, designed the property, which was built in 1925. Chanin Construction Co. was its original owner.