We can't stop wondering, is there anything gazillionaire developer Joe "Coney Island Grinch" Sitt can't turn to crap with a wave of his gold card? His latest controversial move would take a wrecking ball to four turn-of-the century buildings along Surf Avenue which are located in a proposed historic district. In their place, Sitt wants to throw up some kind of vague shopping plaza food court eyesore. He says the intention is to offer "family-friendly games, food, shopping and other activities," but if this rendering is any indication, it's going to be filled with generic fast food franchises and other ubiquitous chains. And people on Coney Island are pissed, again.

"They are buildings of quality, with interesting architecture, with fascinating prior histories, and in a more enlightened environment would be rehabbed for 21st-century use rather than destroyed [so that] everything looks like it's off the highway in New Jersey," says Coney Island USA president Dick Zigun. Sitt claims the buildings are "structurally questionable and potentially dangerous and dilapidated." But that didn't stop him from renting out the buildings last year to food and game vendors, as well as freak show operator John Strong. And this summer Sitt seems committed to leaving the lots around the buildings vacant, despite offers from amusement operators.

"They really don't want to rent it, that's the bottom line," Jeff Brooks, who has negotiated with Thor on behalf of several amusement companies, tells the Daily News. "They want to keep it dark and dingy and ugly." And The Observer's Ed Brown speculates, "The thinking, presumably, is that these new buildings would fetch decent rents, and can go up and down with relative speed, allowing Mr. Sitt to replace them rather quickly with larger hotels or other development if and when he is able to go forward on larger developments." In the meantime, this could be anywhere.