Marty’s Childs play! Plans to convert Coney landmark into outdoor music venue revealed

The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s Marty’s pop-up theater!

The city will transform the landmarked-but-vacant Childs Restaurant and an adjoining lot on the Coney Island Boardwalk into an amphitheater with a removable mesh roof and public park that will feature a high-end eatery and rooftop cafe — fulfilling Borough President Markowitz’s once-controversial dream of creating a performance space in his beloved Coney Island.

“I wanted to build something like this for many years, and the plans were put on hold because there were problems with the location,” Markowitz said on Tuesday. “This location will work for Coney Island.”

The city plans to spend $50 million to buy the building and adjacent land along the Boardwalk between W. 21st and W. 22nd streets, from its owner, iStar Financial, knock a hole in the side of the restaurant to make room for a stage, and manicure the land around it that will act as a park when there aren’t any shows, and seating for 5,000 when there are.

iStar will then lease the facility from the city until 2025 for an unspecified amount of money, and rent out the venue, which will host up to 40 concerts from May to October, 15 of which well be free and 25 paid.

The semi-circular seating bowl will sit beneath a huge billowing tent, and be located outside the Childs Building on the side nearest W. 22nd Street. During the fall and winter, the tent fabric will come down, and the supporting trusses will light up.

In the winter months, sliding doors will keep out the cold as the stage continues to entertain customers at the year-round restaurant inside the building.

The restaurant will also have an open-air outpost on the roof of the building — much like the original Childs Restaurant.

The design team vowed to remain true to the original Childs design in the rest of the proposal. The plan will restore the classic Greek-, Spanish-, and maritime-influenced terra-cotta detailing along the Boardwalk and W. 21st Street sides of the building. In addition, flags will once again fly along the rooftop.

“We’re able to blend the historic character of this building into the new elements,” said architect Randolph Gerner.

The amphitheater plan is the culmination of a longtime dream of Markowitz, who initially tried — and failed — in 2009 to get a modern building put in Asser Levy Park to house his free summer concert series in 2009. Public protest blocked the structure that resembling a potato chip, and Markowitz announced his plan to transform the Childs Building into a performance space at his 2013 State of the Borough address.

Even residents who fought Markowitz original plan agreed that the beachfront location is a much better place to put a concert stage.

“This is a beautiful building, and its great to see that it will be used again,” said Ida Sanoff, who sued to block the borough president’s plan for Asser-Levy, successfully arguing that concert there routinely broke noise codes.

The original Childs Restaurant operated inside the building from 1923 to 1947, serving straightforward fare with an emphasis on eggs and dairy. Weiss said iStar would hire an upscale operator to run the new eatery.

The proposal, which will also convert the now-empty lots on either side of W. 22nd Street will be combined into a public greenspace with lush lawns, winding paths, gardens, playground equipment, privately-run concessions, and seating areas, must go before the city Landmarks Commission and a city Land Use Review hearing, which should be completed by the end of this year. If all goes according to plan, the amphitheater would open in 2015.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him
Updated 10:11 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Marsha Rimler from brooklyn says:
Enough of the circuses.. Not one cent of public money for this,,SAVE THE LIBRARIES INSTEAD.
STOP THE TRASHING of the Cadman Plaza and Pacific Branches. If Marty had supported the Libraries like the Borough President of Queens did we would not be facing library destruction
June 5, 2013, 5:44 am
o3 from bk says:
this idea pre-dates the library issues & will provide a revenue stream. i see nothing wrong with coney rejuvenation...and neither will tourists.
June 5, 2013, 6:51 am
Matt from Dean Street says:
You're both right, but Marsha Rimler is right on the money about how Marty spent OUR MONEY...on self-promoting concert series and not a single nickel for our public libraries! A legacy of bread and circuses from Brooklyn's clown prince...
June 5, 2013, 8:04 am
sal from coney island says:
Where are the Community Stakeholders in the decision making process for this venue. It seems that again Marty Markowitz has circumvented Community input.
These Mega projects should not be done behind closed doors but be transparent as to who's going to run this venue etc.
I have a feeling that this project is going to be Marty Markowitz's annuity when he is term limited out of office.
June 5, 2013, 8:28 am
judah spechal from bedstuy says:
must we be against everything?
June 5, 2013, 8:40 am
ty from pps says:
Sal -
This is a "mega project"?! What do you call *actual* big projects?

And I agree, Judah, everything in this town is met with "You didn't ask ME. It's the principle of the things. And even if you did ask me, I'm against it because I am against everything!"
June 5, 2013, 8:50 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
I am not against everything -just the public/private deals that take from the public and give to the private.
June 5, 2013, 9:31 am
Tax payer$ spending is NPT PUBLIC info? from FBI should get involved says:
How much is the city buying the land for?

How much is the lease?

Why is public spending of TAX PAYER$ money can't be disclosed?

FBI should look into this deal.
June 5, 2013, 10:19 am
sal from coney island says:
@TY... Yes . This is a Mega project costing taxpayers ( you & me) right now over $ 50 million dollars.
With over runs it will defintely cost closer to $ 100 million by the time this Amphitheater is finished.
June 5, 2013, 11:27 am
JT from PPW says:
What a shameful boondoggle. $50m for yet another concert venue when we already have BAM, Barclays, Loews Kings, etc. Where is the demand for so many large performance spaces in the borough? And this is only a seasonal venue, to boot. This money should have gone elsewhere.
June 5, 2013, 2:42 pm
ty from pps says:
Hmm... it's almost like folks don't understand what the purpose of the Coney Island amusement district is for.

If you want to call the entire Coney Island boardwalk a "boondoggle," that's probably a more defensible position. However, these absurd knee-jerk reactions to this "mega project" to enhance the amusement district are just ridiculous.

In general, i think Markowitz is a buffoon... but this doesn't seem like an objectionable project on the face of it.
June 5, 2013, 3:03 pm
TAX PAYER$ SHOPPING SPREE from FBI please save Brooklyn and arrest Marty says:
Why don't the pubic know how much dollar$ the land owner$ are getting? "unspecified amount" is NYC response.

How much is the city buying the land for?

How much is the lease?

Why is public spending of TAX PAYER$ money can't be disclosed?

FBI should look into this deal.
June 5, 2013, 3:32 pm
Jay from NYC says:
So, lets see the owner of the building Istar gets a free renovation courtesy of the public taxpayer and then lease it from the city until 2025,for an "unspecified" amount, but Istar gets to keep all the profits? So what is the taxpayer getting out of this exactly?
June 5, 2013, 5:37 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Brooklyn surely needs this - union crews for sure - please stop with the whining tax payer $ as it is old - the Religious Jews got the concerts out of the park on technicalities and pols in on their side - this is win-win. I have seen Marty off camera and he is a world class Trajan.-
June 5, 2013, 8:26 pm
kew from CI/Brighton says:
What about Asser Levy Park?!?!?!?? The playground is a disgrace and the once beloved bandshell is literally FALLING APART!
June 6, 2013, 8:47 am
ty from pps says:
Kew --
As Old Time mentioned above, there was a particular voting bloc that made sure any attempts to revitalize Asser Levy Park was stopped.
June 6, 2013, 2:12 pm
kew says:
That revitalization was attached to the bandshell and the summer series concerts - even thought it has been stopped, there is no reason why the park has to fall into ruin. If they are no longer using the bandshell they should just take it down, the tarp of the tent was so badly ripped they had to remove it and what is left is turning into a homeless shelter.
June 6, 2013, 6:02 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Trojan that is - not trajan
June 8, 2013, 11:47 am
jerry from brighton beach says:
Asser Levy Park will be refurbished once Councilman Domenic Recchia is term limted out.
Thank God only 6 months to go ! He hasn't given a penny to fix up Asser Levy Park beucause Recchia & Markpwitz swore they wouldn't put a red cent into fixing up the park once they lost the lawsuit & couldn't put the Amphitheater in the park.
It was a malicious plight brought on by these political hacks to the residents of Brighotn BeaCH.
June 8, 2013, 1:13 pm

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