VOTE: Should eminent domain be used to seize the Shore Theater? • Brooklyn Paper

VOTE: Should eminent domain be used to seize the Shore Theater?

Merchants say that the homeless are camping out under the scaffolding surrounding the Shore Theater.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, is demanding that the city use its power of eminent domain to seize the neglected, landmarked Shore Theater, a symbol of the amusement area’s heyday, from its owner.

Built in 1925, the ornate building — one of the tallest in Coney Island — hosted major entertainers like Jerry Lewis, but fell to seed in the 1960s and finally closed after a brief stint as an X-rated movie house.

Property owner Horace Bullard claims he has tried to get a tenant and will once again put the building on the market in the next six months, but neighborhood activists say the Shore Theater hasn’t been used in nearly two decades.

Today, the only visitors coming to the Shore Theater are rats, pigeons, and a crew of homeless people who merchants say sleep under a scaffolding put around the crumbling building to catch falling mortar.

The city obviously realizes the building’s historic value and landmarked its facade in 2010.

And eminent domain, the act where a municipality can take private property in the name of economic development — which the state threatened to use as it grab up the land needed for developer Bruce Ratner’s massive Atlantic Yards project — might be in Bloomberg’s interest. The city has spent a lot of time and money trying to turn the People’s Playground into a glitzy, year-round tourist attraction. The Shore Theater, at least in its current condition, impedes that progress, critics say.

Should the city use eminent domain to take the Shore Theater away from its owner? Let us know. Vote in our poll below and leave your thoughts in our comments section.

Reach Deputy Editor Thomas Tracy at ttracy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2525.

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