Endangered Coney Island Boardwalk businesses get new lease on life – save one


Attractions along the Coney Island promenade will get a new lease of life as part of a pending deal with the city to extend rides and other businesses to another decade, except for a boutique known for its original creations celebrating Brooklyn’s entertainment paradise.

To help aid the iconic seaside destination’s pandemic recovery after a lost 2020 season, the City Economic Development Corp is proposing a 10-year extension for the operators of Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

These expansions require city council approval – an opportunity that EDC and a local council member used to ensure long-standing stores and restaurants that faced steep rent increases before the pandemic can stay put after 2027, with a drop in their rent payments.

“We wanted to see more favorable terms for the subtenants,” said board member Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), who represents the area. “We need a win-win for the subtenants and Luna Park.”

Treyger said Paul’s Daughter, Tom’s Coney Island and Ruby’s Bar & Grill restaurants, as well as retailer Brooklyn Beach Shop, are set to sign what he calls “favorable” subleases with Central Amusement International, owner of Luna Park, before the planned December 16. Council vote.

“I see it as a relief, obviously financially, but mentally, honestly, because if I continue with my existing lease, I don’t know if I can afford it,” said Maya Haddad Miller, co-owner of Brooklyn Beach Shop.

According to Miller, her amended lease expires in 2037 and offers more favorable terms than the one she signed in early 2020, with a reduction in rent until 2029.

But a long-standing strolling name is missing from the list: Lola Star, a narrow gift shop selling quirky T-shirts and other unique Coney memorabilia.

Lola Star owner Dianna Carlin had faced a 400% rent hike before the pandemic and said she had not been offered a renewal – or heard of the ongoing deals until. that THE CITY calls for.

The center Lola Star gift shop on the Coney Island boardwalk was closed along with other non-essential businesses in spring 2020.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

“I am disappointed and confused as to why I was left out of the other boardwalk tenants who are helping and helping to negotiate a fair deal,” Carlin said. “So we are horrified to say the least. “

A wild ride

Luna Park’s current lease dates back to 2010, after Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration purchased the land and undertook a rezoning intended to make Coney a year-round destination.

The leases for Luna Park and Deno’s originally ran until 2020, as a temporary measure to kick off a Coney revival. In 2013, the Council agreed to extend them until 2027.

The new lease extension would postpone the expiration again, from 2027 to 2037 – although it still refers to the arrangement as “provisional.”

“An extension will bring economic stability as we continue our long-term investment in Coney Island as New York recovers from the unprecedented pandemic and its devastating effects,” Alessandro Zamperla, CEO of Central Amusement, said during a Council hearing on the proposed amendment. Thusday.

Dennis Vourderis, co-owner of Deno’s, supported the importance of lease extensions in his testimony. “We want to continue our long-term investment in Coney Island, and this lease will help us do that,” he said.

In a statement, an EDC spokesperson said the amendment would help small businesses along the boardwalk.

“The resulting lease and sublet extensions will give them greater stability, allow them to better recover from the pandemic, and help them make long-term investments that benefit the Coney Island community.” said spokeswoman Mary Mueller.

Workers repair Deno's magic wheel during the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers repaired Deno’s magic wheel during the coronavirus outbreak on May 7, 2020.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

In addition to the board, the extension will also need to be approved by EDC’s board of directors and the mayor.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the entertainment district closed for an entire season for the first time. The shutdown coincided with what should have been Deno’s Magic Wheel 100th anniversary celebrations, a major draw.

Business along the historic promenade has suffered. Ruby’s Bar & Grill co-owner Michael Sarrel said his restaurant was earning 70% less in 2020 than the year before.

“We were still able to do business because we had an outdoor space,” Sarrel told THE CITY, noting that his restaurant was doing relatively better than the ones that didn’t.

A plea of ​​”good faith”

At Thursday’s board hearing, an EDC official said the proposed lease extension would help companies “recoup losses suffered as a result of government shutdowns and support their continued efforts and investments in the area of entertainment ”.

In approving the proposal, “The Board will ensure that the unique and iconic Coney Island Amusement area and community continue to thrive for future generations,” said Chief Executive Sean Freas, Vice President of Portfolio Management at Coney Island Amusement. ‘EDC.

During the pandemic, Central Amusement approached EDC for a lease extension until 2040 to help gain support from lending institutions as well as maintain long-term security, the Brooklyn Paper reported last October.

At the time, an EDC spokesperson said: “Any lease extension without a competitive process raises issues of fairness.

THE CITY reported this spring that Luna Park has delayed a planned expansion, including a new “adventure park” and merry-go-round, originally planned for 2019 and 2020 but now promised for next year.

Treyger said he insisted that Central Amusement’s subtenants also get an extension because they were an “afterthought” in the 2009 Bloomberg plan.

Treyger said there was still time for Zamperla and Lola Star to agree on a lease.

“But people have to negotiate in good faith on both sides,” he said.


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