Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Petting Zoo to Return to Coney, Rent-Free?

June 10th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Petting Zoo Sign

Among the things that left Coney Island last week was the petting zoo that had been set up on property owned by developer Joe Sitt. It turns they are coming back and may be doing so rent-free. The person who posts on the Coney Island Message Board as Tricia emails to tell us that Thor Equities is making some very attractive offers to businesses to keep their properties full while negotiations with the city are ongoing over a zoning and property deal. She writes:

…in Coney Island this season, at Sitt’s properties, industry norms apparently do not apply. The guys who are “renting” the Thor properties are wheelin’ and dealin’ to fill up the formerly empty lots and storefronts. As has been mentioned several times already, it’s a pr move- to prove per Sitt’s statement “Thor is fully committed to the amusement industry.” Meanwhile, Thor is trying to negotiate behind the scenes with the city to allow high rises (which could be hotels, condotels, condos), generic entertainment retail, and plain old retail in the amusement zone.

I just talked with the petting zoo owner Charles Beam. He told me a guy rented them the lot in Coney guaranteeing they would make a certain amount of money. Beam expressed dismay that after traveling 1,000 miles from South Carolina to play Coney Island, “we did not make any money.” So they left with Reithoffer to play another spot in Penn.

But he also said the petting zoo will be back in Coney [today]! The guy who rented the lot told Beam not to worry about the rent, so I guess Thor wants them back enough to offer free rent. Though not enough to pay an appearance fee. On the pr flyer they are scheduled to be here till Labor Day, so it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

The reason I knew the petting zoo was paying rent in the first place was the first few days they were there, you could see the exotic animals from the street. There were no banners up to screen the animals from view and entice you to buy a ticket. I said to one of the guys, if people can see the whole show from the street, they’re not going to pay to come inside. Why don’t you put up banners? He said we did but the guy who rented us the property told us to take it down. I guess Sitt’s pr machine liked the publicity generated by the photos of the petting zoo in the news and blogs. The next weekend, I noticed they had a plain tarp up on the fence shielding the animals from public view.

Who knew there was so much intrigue in the petting zoo business?

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 coney island // Jun 18, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Well, the petting zoo didn’t come back to Coney after all–they’re with Reithoffer’s carnival in Far Rockaway

    Free rent offer didn’t come thru since Thor’s rental agents are making the bucks parking cars at $20 a pop on those lots

    Thanks to Thor Equities the property has gone from amusement park to empty lot to carnival lot to parking lot