Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowtiz has long dreamed of building a permanent amphitheater in Coney Island to house the popular summer concert series and now it seems that the dream will come true. According to a report in the New York Times, Markowitz and other city officials have reached a deal to build a brand spanking new $58 million music hall and theater. It will be announced at the beep’s State of the Borough address tonight.
The 5,000-seat theater will be built out of the remains of the landmarked Childs Theater, near the boardwalk’s western end. Markowitz has $48 million in his capital budget with the city pledging $10 million extra for the project. The theater is being developed by iStar Financial.
If built, the Times describes where the theater would fit in the community and how the theater would serve a variety of events:
[T]he theater would occupy part of a building on the Boardwalk that once housed a branch of the Childs Restaurant chain and is protected by city landmark designation. The theater would also occupy an adjoining lot that has been used as an unauthorized community garden. The concerts would be run by a nonprofit operator. The theater could be used for year-round events, including graduations. There are also discussions about designing the theater so that hundreds of additional people can watch from an adjacent lawn when the weather is warm and dry.
The developer is planning to revive the 90-year-old Childs building as a restaurant, retaining the palatial facade, which is famed for its terra cotta seashell ornamentation, wide-mouthed smiling fish and Neptunes. Part of the building’s western wall would be breached to create the backstage area for the theater.
The proposed theater has faced a long stream of resistance from local synagogues and other neighbors afraid of traffic and noise. Neighbors are also not thrilled at the idea of groups like Iron Maiden blasting heavy metal riffs through the community, but Markowitz told the Times that, in the end, the theater will be a net positive.
“Change, I know, is not easy. This will bring so much joy and happiness to the people of New York and Brooklyn,” said Markowitz.
According to officials, the theater would take two years to complete.