It’s history: Coney’s oldest remaining building to be demolished

Brooklyn Paper
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It’s out with the old, in with the boom!

Coney Island’s oldest remaining building will be demolished, according to a local historian and city records.

The Department of Buildings in January approved a demolition application for the more than 130-year-old Grashorn Building on Surf Avenue between Jones Walk and W. 12th Street, news of which local historian Charlie Denson, the executive director of the Coney Island History Project, revealed on March 4.

Entrepreneur Henry Grashorn first erected the three-story building in the late 1880s, opening a hardware store on the ground floor where amusement-park operators purchased tools to make repairs on their nearby rides, according to Denson, who said Grashorn operated the top two floors as a hotel.

In 1971, amusement operator Wally Roberts purchased the property, refashioning the ground floor into an arcade, and using the top two floors as an apartment and a workshop, Denson said.

But the building has been vacant for more than a decade, according to the historian, who said it has remained empty since developer Joe Sitt, the founder of real-estate firm Thor Equities, purchased it for $1.4 million in 2005.

Sitt owned the most property in the neighborhood until he sold a large portfolio of his Coney Island holdings to the city’s Economic Development Corporation for $95.6 million in 2009, when the Council passed the neighborhood’s sweeping rezoning, according to a Real Deal report.

Last fall, Sitt attempted to shed even more of his local land when he put 21 of his remaining area properties — which allegedly occupy nearly twelve football fields’ worth of space — up for sale, the Real Deal reported at the time.

A rep for beleaguered local demolition company Breeze National — which the New York Daily News in 2013 reported had a deadly safety record, and for years was run by an alleged mobster — filed the application to demolish Grashorn Building, records show.

Reps from Thor Equities did not immediately respond to inquiries about when demolition would begin, what the firm plans to do with the site after the building is razed, whether it plans to knock down anymore of its properties in the area, or why bigwigs chose Breeze National to do the demolition work.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 9:58 am, March 15, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
It's really a pity - this building should be restored, not torn down. When we demolish our history, there is no way to get it back. Furthermore, I doubt that the new building will be interesting, beautiful, or built to last.
March 15, 2019, 6:38 am
occasional from coney says:
restoring original requires a depth of character, apparently not present. and, of course the replacement will be shoddy, for a couple of reasons. one, who would build expensive in a flood zone? second, it will be , effectively, a temporary building.
March 15, 2019, 7:31 am
Alex G from Coney says:
Who knows what's coming in as a replacement? Excited :) @occasional, flood-proof design has long been perfected and shouldn't be an issue when designing quality hopefully modern new architecture.
March 15, 2019, 10:31 am
Willie from Sunset Park says:
So Joe Sitt made a 94 plus million dollar profit on that property. WOW
March 15, 2019, 10:48 am
Honey from Da Hood says:
Ooh, maybe dis gonna be a DUNKIN DOUGHNUTS?!?!!!
March 15, 2019, 12:04 pm
Anna from West Brighton says:
Dunkin is already on Coney, we need something up scale like Starbucks or privately own shops. Cute stuff like baked by melissa would be superb.
March 15, 2019, 2:33 pm
Bob from Gerritsen Beach says:
That's too bad
March 15, 2019, 3:01 pm
Lee Friedman from Briarwood NY says:
Probably another nondescript shoebox like "It's Sugar", which replaced the Henderson Music Hall building...Pity.
March 15, 2019, 3:49 pm
Mike says:
empty garbage lot
March 15, 2019, 3:53 pm
Brooklyn from Coney Island says: Sarah Carroll the chair of Landmarks seems to be bought and sold by REBNY. Someone needs to check that LPC did their homework and just didn't give in to the $$$ of REBNY members. Also, note they have no research dept so how on earth did they determine this should be plowed down.
March 16, 2019, 12:01 pm
Pam from Park Slope says:
Anna - what’s your obsession with Dunkin Donuts all about?!
March 17, 2019, 9:14 am
Anna from Coney says:
@Pam, I think you misread my comment. Please reread. I actually hate dunkin, and like I said we already have one. We need Brooklyn roast or at least a Starbucks. Something hipster and amazing ??
March 17, 2019, 12:28 pm
Steve from Clinton Hill says:
Totally agree with Mike from Bay Ridge, this historic building should be restored not torn down.
March 18, 2019, 9:37 am
Ro from Park Slope says:
Restore the building, flood-proof it, and make it a destination (cafe or whatever) with multi-level seating. Leave something to show that Coney has at least 130 years of history!
March 18, 2019, 10:18 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Unfortunately, in a city such as NYC, money as priority over preservation. If this was any other city, this building would have probably been saved and have a new use for it. As for mentioning Dunkin Donuts, there is already one over in the station house for Stillwell Avenue and I know this because I went to it one time, plus it also has a Baskin Robbins there as well.
March 18, 2019, 4:17 pm

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