There was considerable outrage last week when Zamperla, the multinational amusement company leasing prime Coney Island boardwalk property from the city, abruptly bulldozed Shoot the Freak, the ten-year-old attraction where customers step right up to fire paint ball pellets at a human target. Shoot the Freak and seven other boardwalk businesses are fighting Zamperla's eviction order in court, so it came as a surprise that the company would raze the attraction before any legal decision had been issued. Now it turns out that Zamerla didn't even bother getting a permit from the Department of Buildings to do the work.
Amusing the Zillion reports that the City’s Department of Buildings has "issued a stop work order at the Boardwalk property leased by Zamperla from the City’s Economic Development Corporation. This property has 1 open DOB ‘Work Without A Permit’ Violations and may be subject to DOB civil penalties upon application for a permit." According to the Daily News, the Department of Buildings has fined Zamperla $5,000 for a Class 1 violation—the most severe. "In the middle of the night they come and raze my place and knock it down without building permits or nothing," Shoot the Freak owner Anthony Berlingieri tells the News. "This is all about greed. It's an empty lot, like if Shoot the Freak was never there."
And Berlingieri tells the Post, "I really have to wonder if this is retaliation because I’ve been Zamperla’s biggest critic since they’ve arrived." Zamperla hasn't commented publicly on what is turning into a P.R. debacle for the company, which was generally lauded for opening Luna Park this summer on the property formerly occupied by Astroland. But now, as Zamperla tries to evict essential boardwalk dive Ruby's and seven others in order to build an upscale sports bar and restaurant, the company has achieved the impossible: Becoming even more loathed than the boardwalk's former Snidely Whiplash, "developer" Joe Sitt. A DOB spokesman says the department is planning an investigation.