Just give us a sign!
The famed marquee of Coney Island’s landmarked Shore Theater is gone forever, and a new neon sign won’t get built until the insurance pays up.
“It’s gone, it’s trashed,” said Leo Lew, manager at Mr. Sign, where the Sandy-ravaged sign was sent for repairs. “It was very weak. As soon as we touched it, it fell apart.”
The superstorm’s winds left the jutting emblem of the Coney Island icon and city landmark beyond repair, the late owner Horace Bullard said last year. A source close to the deceased real estate magnate said that he paid $10,000 to the sign shop on Atlantic Avenue between Rochester and Buffalo avenues to remove and recreate the marquee.
The Crown Heights sign shop said that they have already scrapped the sign — which the building’s landmark status demands be restored in some form.
But Lew has designs for building a new sign modeled on the original — an acceptable solution under the landmarks law. The sign man even left open the possibility of restoring the theater’s long-extinguished neon glow.
“We know exactly how the old one was built,” said Lew. “We could make it neon, we could do anything.”
But Lew said the company is still waiting for insurer York Risk Services to send them the money to do the job.
An adjuster with York Risk Services declined to comment.
The Landmarks Commission said last year that it would not step in as long as it appeared work on restoring the sign was underway.
The sign did not always read “SHORE.” The neon beacon originally read “LOEWS,” for the company that leased the building and operated a movie theater inside for its first 39 years of existence. It got the Shore name — and sign — when the Brandt Company took it over in 1964. When Sandy ripped pieces of the marquee loose last year, the outlines of the old “LOEWS” characters were briefly visible.
The theater started showing X-rated movies in 1972 in a last-ditch attempt to lure audiences. Bullard purchased the property in the late ’70s with an idea to convert it into a hotel and casino, but the state decided against allowing gambling in the People’s Playground. The land baron put the building up for sale and let it sit derelict for the next several decades, drawing criticism from Coney Island advocates as the structure deteriorated and became an encampment of homeless people. Some objected to Bullard’s $13 million price tag as unreasonable.
The city declared the theater a landmark in 2010 against Bullard’s wishes. The landlord’s daughter, Jasmine Bullard, inherited the building — along with several other Coney properties — upon her father’s passing earlier this year, and took it off the market. Real estate insiders predict it will be put back up for sale early next year.