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Eric Safyan grew up in Coney Island's Brightwater Towers overlooking the Aquarium. His parents were political refugees who emigrated from Odessa in Ukraine when he was 3-1/2 years old. After graduating from Brooklyn Tech and architecture school in New Orleans and California, Safyan returned to Brooklyn where he founded his own firm, which specializes in restaurants and hospitality. The opportunity to design the renovation of the Boardwalk's legendary Ruby's Bar & Grill came in 2011, when the bar was given a long-term lease with the stipulation that it undergo a gut rehab. "How do you preserve something that was there and rebuild it from scratch," says Safyan who was excited to work on the project since Ruby's was his "childhood temple by the sea." His solution: Keeping as much of the existing elements as possible and "soaking up that history." Having grown up in "the decrepit years of Coney Island," Safyan offers his thoughts on the pros and cons of development, and reflects on the renovation of Stillwell Avenue Terminal and the West 8th Street subway station.