Coney Island

Hotel makeover for Coney Island’s Shore Theater OK’d by Landmarks

March 14, 2019 Lore Croghan
Here's a real-life glimpse of the Shore Theater before its hotel makeover begins. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

A plan to turn a long-vacant Coney Island movie theater into a hotel won the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s blessing.

Commissioners unanimously approved Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects‘ revised design for Pye Properties’ Shore Theater hotel conversion on March 12.

They’d found the original plan the architecture firm presented in January “timid” and “generic.” They thought it was a bad idea to strip the historic Shore Theater’s facade of distinctive details, like a set of metal fire stairs attached to the side of the building.

Here's the revised design for the Shore Theater, which is being turned into a hotel. Rendering by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
Here’s the revised design for the Shore Theater, which is being turned into a hotel. Rendering by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects via the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The revised design was an improvement over the original one, Commissioner Michael Goldblum said before the March 12 vote.

“I think that it’s got a much stronger tie to its historic presence on the street,” he said.

The amended plan includes an artistic evocation of the fire stairs. Salvaged pieces of steel that will be attached to the facade will trace the outline of the old staircase, which is in bad shape and needs to be removed for safety reasons.

Before Superstorm Sandy, a neon blade sign on the corner of the building spelled out the word “SHORE” in huge capital letters. Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects’ original hotel design proposed a fabric banner to replace the blade sign, which commissioners found unacceptable.

The revised design plan has a vertical sign that spells out the words “SHORE HOTEL” in red metal letters studded with bare light bulbs.

A Loew’s ‘picture palace’

Pye Properties can now move forward with its project to turn the 1920s neo-Renaissance Revival theater and office building into a hotel and spa.

The seven-story brick, terra-cotta and stone property is located at 1301 Surf Ave. on the corner of Stillwell Avenue — a prime location right across the street from Nathan’s Famous hot-dog stand.

Salvaged pieces of steel trace the outline of fire stairs that will be removed from the Shore Theater's facade. Rendering by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
Salvaged pieces of steel trace the outline of fire stairs that will be removed from the Shore Theater’s facade. Rendering by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects via the Landmarks Preservation Commission

An important architecture firm, Reilly & Hall, designed the Shore Theater, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the property says.

Chanin Construction Co. built and owned this “picture palace,” as the grand movie theaters of yesteryear were called. Loew’s leased the theater until 1964. After that, there were other theater operators — including one that showed porno films — until the 1970s.

Pye Properties has owned 1301 Surf Ave. since 2015. The developer bought the property for $14 million from Kansas Fried Chicken Inc., whose president is Jasmine Bullard, city Finance Department records indicate.

She’s the daughter of the late Horace Bullard, a real estate investor whose development plans for his Coney Island properties never came to fruition. He owned the Thunderbolt roller coaster, which the Giuliani Administration demolished in 2000.

Follow Brooklyn Eagle reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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