Monday, June 25, 2007

Coney Island's Historic Childs Building Comes Back to Life

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The historic Childs Restaurant building in Coney Island came back to life on Saturday night, hosting its first public event in 60 years. Besides the fact that the Mermaid Parade Ball was a great party, it was one of those moments when you could easily and happily envision a future when one of the few surviving grand Coney Island buildings is brought back to life. With its wide open door facing the beach and the water--and a rooftop that can be used too--the Childs building will make a spectacular restaurant or venue.

The building itself is a vast space. There is a terrazzo floor and original decorative terracotta survives on the inside walls, as do some of the decorative touches on some of the columns. (You can find some background on the building, which dates to 1923, here as well as here in an interesting New York Times story from 2002.) It was designated a landmark in 2003.

To some of Saturday night's party goers it was probably just another building hosting an event with music and drinks, albeit one in an interesting location. To those who are aware of Coney Island's past and future, its use as a venue was full of meaning. "This is a historic moment for Coney Island," said entrepreneur Diana Carlin, whose Lola Staar Boutique was been the subject of much boardwalk drama when developer Joe Sitt first evicted her and, then, gave her another year in her store. As recently as five years ago, the building's owner dismissed ideas that anyone would ever want to open a restaurant or other such business in the space, which for years was used as a chocolate factory and a book warehouse. Taconic Investment Partners now has a long-term lease on the space and the building is part of a large-scale project the developers want to build on that part of the boardwalk, west of KeySpan Park.

The fact that the Childs building fell into disuse as a public venue speaks to the sad fall of Coney Island. Its impending revival is a true bright spot in Coney Island's future.

You can check out our flickr set focusing on the building itself here and our Mermaid Ball photos here.

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Related Posts:
Mermaid Mania: The Mermaid Parade Ball

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Jeanne said...

Thanks for sharing all the great photos... it's fantastic to see this building getting a new "lease" on life. :)

I'd have given just about anything to have been in Coney this weekend for all the festivities -- thanks for making it possible for me (and others) to experience it vicariously!

5:51 PM  

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