Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Dick Says Nathan’s Could Go to the Dogs

January 22nd, 2009 · 1 Comment

Of all the things to end up discussing after the city’s massive Coney Island plan was released, the fate of Nathan’s famous seemed unllikely. We figured we’d be talking about the four high rise hotels the city would allow or the dozens of residential towers. But no. One of the biggest items of mainstream media interest has been the fate of the landmark Nathan’s Famous buildings. Nevermind, the fact that it’s been known for nearly a year and a half that the land upon which it sits would be rezoned to allow for a much taller building. Suddenly everyone is acting shocked. The President of Nathan’s issued a reassuring statement on Tuesday sayng there’s be no Nathan’s Tower, but no less a Coney authority than Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA says the building (which is not an official landmark) could end up being (as they say in the trade) “vertically enlarged.” Here’s Mr. Zigun’s statement from the Coney Island Message Board (he resigned from the board of the Coney Island Development Corp. after the city reduced the amusement zone from 17 to 9 acres).:

The rezoning creates enormous economic pressure on the Handwerker Family to demolish the current building when the lease is up in 20 years. The city is economically encouraging (almost forcing) the family to upgrade to a 15 story building with a new home for the Nathan’s Restaurant. Even if a themed Nathan’s stays… even if it becomes a larger Nathan’s… the city has shown NO RESPECT for the historic building where fast-food was invented. The current building is an icon and a treasure and the city should be zoning for a tall building BEHIND the current two story structure. If Nathan’s should be tempted to accept a NEW version of the restaurant then this could happen well in advance of the lease expiration. The historic building is, YES INDEED, very very very threatened by this zoning plan.

All of which brings us back to the landmarking process and why very important building in Brooklyn aren’t protected, but that’s a different subject.

Tags: coney island · Uncategorized

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 electricia // Jan 22, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Thank you GL for as usual setting the story straight! The MSM coverage & the statement by the CEO really miss the point. It’s disheartening that the big story on the day of certification is Nathan’s endangerment, then it’s debunked, everyone can relax and go back to what they were doing, and feel whew Coney is saved.

    I completely agree that it shows NO RESPECT for the city to upzone lots where there are historic buildings, especially when the city KNOWS these structures were nominated for landmark status. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is famously slow, but it seems like quite awhile ago CIUSA nominated the six structures for Landmark designation–Nathan’s, Henderson’s, Shore Hotel, Child’s (CIUSA bldg) and Grashorn, as well as the B & B Carousell. What is the status? Do they plan to hold public hearings soon? Are they dragging their feet and waiting until the ULURP is complete to avoid more controversy?