Coney Island’s historic Shore Theater is one step closer to landmark status this week after the Landmarks Preservation Commission [LPC] voted to finally get the official designation process rolling.
A public hearing on landmarking the venerable old site at Surf and Stillwell avenues has been slated for March 23.
At that time, the LPC will entertain testimony from the community at large on the merits of landmarking the Shore Theater. The final vote on whether to landmark the site will come sometime after.
In addition, the LPC also tells this newspaper that a similar vote to hold a public hearing on landmarking the Coney Island USA building will be held later on February 16.
Coney Island preservationists have been filled with a greater sense of urgency ever since the summer when the New York City Council okayed new zoning for Coney Island.
The grassroots organization Save Coney Island has proposed the creation of a “historic corridor” along Surf Avenue that would include not only theShore Theater and Coney Island USA building, but Nathan’s Famous, the Henderson building and the Grasshorn building as well.
Two of those property owners are against landmark status, however.
Thor Equities, owners of the old Henderson building, says that landmark status would fail to strike a needed balance between preserving Coney Island’s past and building a bigger and better amusement district.
Shore Theater owner Horace Bullard, meanwhile, said this week that extending landmark status to his 1925 property and other historic sites in Coney Island would“handicap” the city’s ability to transform and update the amusement district.
“You will never see a Nathan’s on that corner with a roller-coaster going through it,” Bullard said. “If all of old Coney Island was there and it was all landmarked, it virtually would no longer be an amusement district – it would be a historic district.”
The LPC argues that landmark designation doesn’t actually prohibit changes to buildings.
“We don’t prohibit change, we just manage it,” LPC spokesperson Lisi de Bourbon said. “We allow changes that are appropriate to the history and architectural character of a building.”
Just last week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission okayed permits for the New York City Economic Development Corporation to install new anti-climbing devices and gates around the landmarked Parachute Jump.
Located at the boardwalk between West 15th and West 19th street, the iconic Parachute Jump is one of four sites in Coney Island already protected by landmark status. The others include the Cyclone roller-coaster, Wonder Wheel and Child’s buildings on the boardwalk.