NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Businesses along the Coney Island boardwalk are facing significant rent hikes, and the increase could force some of them to close their doors.
Nineteen years ago in Coney Island, Dianna Carlin, who goes by the moniker “Lola Star,” took a chance and opened up a tiny t-shirt shop filled with her own designs.
“Lola Star” became a part of the fabric of the landmarked boardwalk, but now it could all be taken away.
“I don’t have a lease right now,” Carlin told CBSN New York’s Hazel Sanchez.
She claims on top of getting a part of her profits, amusement park company Zamperla is increasing her rent 400%. Five other businesses on the boardwalk were hit with similar hikes. Some signed the lease, but she can’t afford it.
“If the rents increase, prices are gonna have to increase … I’m afraid Coney Island is going to become the playground of the wealthy rather than the people’s playground,” Carlin said.
Ten years ago, the Bloomberg administration leased the land to Zamperla, allowing it to dictate leases with businesses on the property.
The company did not return CBS2’s calls for comment.
Councilmember Mark Treyger represents the district.
“I have appealed to the de Blasio administration to intervene on behalf of small businesses to lay out a vision of how we truly support them and activate these spaces all year-round,” Treyger said.
CBS2 reached out to the mayor’s office. We are still waiting for a response.
Civil liberties attorney Norman Siegal says Coney Island was built on the backs of small business owners and these hikes are unconscionable.
“Perhaps the city should think about changing the relationship of who actually is managing that property,” Siegal said.
“Lola Star” had until Wednesday to sign the new lease or face eviction, but Lamperla decided to extend the negotiation deadline to Feb. 15.
“I’m trying to stay hopeful. I’m trying to keep fighting, but honestly, it’s hard. And I definitely have days where I want to give up,” Carlin said.
But if there’s not reasonable compromise, “Lola Star” may have to shutter its gate for good.