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History? It’s a ‘Shore’ thing as Coney theater is landmarked

The Brooklyn Paper
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A decaying Coney Island icon was designated a city landmark on Tuesday — but it remains unclear what will become of it.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Shore Theater at Surf and Stillwell avenues worthy of permanent protection, a move that will end a long debate over whether to demolish the vacant building.

The seven-story, 85-year-old former vaudeville playhouse has been neglected for more than 40 years. Its owner, the Kansas Fried Chicken magnate Horace Bullard, opposed the landmark status because he said it would “hinder” his ability to convert the building for modern uses. He now says he will renovate the façade and try to sell it.

“There is no way that Coney Island can evolve as an amusement district when they keep landmarking buildings,” Bullard said on Tuesday. “They’re handicapping the entire area. But fine. We’ll have it up for sale, and if we can’t do that we’ll fix it up and put some offices inside and rent it out.”

Big shots like Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun have bigger ideas, like reverting it back to its original use — skin flicks and burlesque shows and musicals, oh my! — though it’s unclear who potential buyers or tenants are at this point.

Zigun said earlier this year that he envisioned a restored 2,500-seat theater that would serve as a concert venue for Broadway shows. He added that he would like to see non-profit groups occupy the offices above the theater that were once used by people in the entertainment industry.

Bullard countered, arguing that the theater will become a lackluster money pit. Regardless, he’ll be required to restore and maintain the old theater’s aesthetic.

Bullard has presided over the Shore’s demise, but even until the 1960s, it was a prosperous venue. The legendary burlesque entrepreneur Leroy C. Griffith even ran a show there called “Stars and Strips Forever.”

No, that’s not a typo.

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Reader Feedback

nancy from coney island says:
its about time they perserve some of coneys past
they are tearing down all the old buildings that were there since the 1800s
building s that could have been restored and used
theres alot 2 be said for perserving the past while bringing in the new
i love looking at the old buildings
Dec. 15, 2010, 8:44 pm
Ekavet from Flatbush says:
Now with its landmark status the building will remain untouched for another 30 years.
Dec. 15, 2010, 9:29 pm
nancy from coney says:
if they have any sense they will make it in 2 a hotel i dont know how many people ask me if theres one there 2 stay in. perfect for alot of things. its nice 2 see that they are perserving some of coneys past.and bullard that owns it never did anything with it. some 1 should take it over with plans give it 2 me i have alot of ideas for it
Dec. 16, 2010, 7:20 am
al pankin from downtown says:
I registered for the draft in that building, it was not historic then and it ia not historic now...it's been vacant and run down for so long that it's past the point of no return, just like the area it's in, dead
Dec. 16, 2010, 6:14 pm
nancy from coney says:
al when was the last time you were in coney
they are bringing in alot of stuff
they have a new amusment area
they have a new rollercoaster going up behind nathans
they have all kinds of places to eat
its really coming around
ive grown up there
and have seen the worst and the best
and its really coming along
al pay a visit there youd be surprised
Dec. 16, 2010, 7:43 pm
Brooklyn Alex from Coney Island says:
I celebrated the landmarking of this building. Had I known the Bullard's would let it fall to such a state of disrepair in hopes of a 'demolition by neglect' judgement, I would not have been so happy.

Check out the Coney Island Forums and keep up with us there.
Aug. 5, 2014, 3:39 pm

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