Can historic recognition save Coney Island?

August 17, 2010 10:00AM

Bank of Coney Island

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has declared that Coney Island’s amusement district meets the criteria for inclusion on State and National Registers of Historic Places, in what local activists are calling a “key victory” for the campaign to preserve Coney Island’s endangered heritage, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported. A Determination of Eligibility letter stated that the amusement district is “nationally significant… as the birthplace of the modern American amusement industry” and that the area’s buildings are “valuable cultural assets worthy of recognition and consideration in preservation planning.” While it does not protect the buildings from demolition, inclusion on the Registers of Historic Places could make grants and tax credits of up to 40 percent available for projects that rehabilitate and reuse historic properties, according to Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island. The recognition comes as a time when many of Coney Island’s historic buildings are in danger, as developer Thor Equities moves forward with plans to destroy four of those structures. On Aug. 13, demolition permits were issued for two Thor-owned properties, the Bank of Coney Island and the Shore Hotel. The other two threatened structures are the amusement district’s oldest building, the Grashorn Building and the Henderson Music Hall. [Brooklyn Eagle]