A Boardwalk souvenir stand owner who was exiled from her shop for being too critical of her landlord’s plans for Coney Island is back where she belongs.
Dianna Carlin, who ran the Lola Star for nearly a decade before landlord Joe Sitt declined to renew her lease in 2008, has gotten her old space back, thanks to a deal with the city, which now owns the land.
“I’d been renting for 10 years, and Sitt kicked be out of my store because of my activism,” said Carlin. “When the city bought the land, they gave me my lease back — the store was vacant.”
Carlin claims that her outspoken ties to Save Coney Island — the watchdog group that opposed Sitt’s plan for a Vegas-style Xanadu of rides and retail stores in Coney’s traditional amusement area — landed her in the no-lease zone with Sitt’s Thor Equities in the first place.
When her lease was up after the summer season, she was not offered another one. She reopened the next summer in the Stillwell Avenue subway station — but it was like being in Siberia.
The city has offered a one-year lease for the spot between West 10th and West 15th streets, but Carlin said there’s no guarantee beyond this summer. Still, she’s overjoyed.
“It’s amazing to have this opportunity to set up my shop again after having it for so long,” Carlin said. “We have new displays, and are transforming it back into the pink wonderland of fabulousness!”
Carlin’s good fortune is just part of the cause for her optimism. She said she’s very supportive of the city’s interim amusement plans this summer, which include a new theme park, a return of the Ringling Brothers circus, and the return of her own Dreamland Roller Rink, which opens on May 16.
©2010 Community News Group
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