De Blasio offers to help save Coney Island store from eviction
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that he hopes to save a popular T-shirt shop from being evicted off the Coney Island boardwalk — the same way he helped keep a historic Queens pub from shuttering weeks earlier.
Dianna Carlin, who owns the tiny seasonal shop Lola Star, called de Blasio in the middle of his weekly appearance on WNYC-radio’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” to accuse him of sitting back while Zamperla, the Italian thrill-ride maker that oversees her store and other prime city-owned boardwalk real estate, jacked up her rent well beyond what she could afford.
“I am currently being evicted from my store because of a 400 percent rent increase on city-owned land,” said Carlin, who helped save the neighborhood’s fabled boardwalk from luxury condos a decade ago by leading a coalition of sideshow “freaks,” burlesque queens and “mermaids” that got former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to preserve the eccentric amusement district.
“I am a valuable member of the community, a valuable contributor to the development of Coney Island, and I just don’t understand why you are allowing this eviction to take place when you have the power to stop it,” added Carlin, who referred to herself as “Lola on Coney Island.”
Carlin, whose lease expired Saturday, later told The Post she got the idea to call into the show from Loycent Gordon, the owner of Neir’s Tavern, a 190-year-old watering hole in Queens that de Blasio helped keep in business after it was also hit with a massive rent hike from another landlord.
De Blasio only agreed to offer the iconic pub grant money and other assistance after Gordon called the “The Brian Lehrer Show”’s #AskTheMayor segment in January and put Hizzoner on the spot.
De Blasio claimed to be caught off-guard by Carlin’s problem as well — even through it’s been well-covered by the media since November and members of the city’s Economic Development Corp. had been working behind the scenes for months to help Carlin and other boardwalk businesses hit with steep rent increases from Zamperla.
However, de Blasio vowed to try and help Carlin’s store the same way he assisted Neir’s Tavern, adding she should expect a call from Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop later in the day.
“Please don’t assume I am allowing anything if I have not heard of it before, respectfully,” de Blasio told Carlin. “I am glad you called me. It does not sound like the kind of thing I would approve of.”
He also credited his weekly WNYC segment and the call from Gordon for helping keep Neir’s Tavern open.
“That call played an important role in saving Neir’s Tavern, so I hope to do the same for Lola and her business, but this is the very first I am hearing of it,” insisted Hizzoner, who has made helping small businesses a key part of his second term.
Under former Mayor Bloomberg, the city rezoned the area in 2009 and plunked down $95.6 million a year later to buy seven acres of prime beachfront land from mega-developer Joe Sitt, who had threatened to boot longtime businesses to pave the way for high-rise condos and a glitzy entertainment complex.
Bloomberg then turned control of Sitt’s land over to Zamperla — including Lola Star boutique — under a long-term contract.
Besides opening Luna Park and other amusements, Zamperla was allowed to set and collect rents for beloved businesses it inherited, which also included Ruby’s Bar & Grill.
The other businesses agreed to rent hikes much lower than Carlin’s after their leases expired last November. Carlin was given several extensions to work out a deal, but the last one expired Saturday.
She said she was “hopeful” her business could be saved following her conversation with the mayor.
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