Some Coney Islanders are proposing all revenue collected from boardwalk tenants who received a lease extension and rent relief deal from the New York City Development Corporation be directed back into the community to aid programs and projects that could support the needs of the neighborhood.
Last year, the local community board and the New York City Council approved a ten-year lease extension and rental assistance for four boardwalk businesses plus the nabe’s two amusement parks after the pandemic caused them to lose out on most of their revenue in the summer of 2020. That agreement is now awaiting approval from the Borough Board — and Craig Hammerman, a southern Brooklyn advocate, and Michael Quinn, owner of the legendary Feltman’s of Coney Island, are petitioning for community and borough board members to make their approval conditional.
“Would any of you let your child go out without conditions? Of course not. It is not okay to keep telling the city ‘Yeah sure, do what you want,'” Hammerman said at a Community Board 13 meeting on Sept. 28. “Please consider adding a condition to your committee’s recommendation so that the community will get something more out of this deal. Redirecting all of the rent money collected by the city for all of these properties back into the community in the form of programs and projects that will support the needs of the Coney Island community would be a great start.”
Hammerman asked board members to consider asking the EDC to redirect the rent revenue they collect into programs that would build a local labor force by expanding job training programs, expand local non-profit support, and fund a comprehensive Coney Island regional transportation study.
In his motion for support, Quinn specified to the board that the locals want all property owned by the city to be given back to Coney Island in order to make “social and economical changes.” The EDC, a quasi-governmental nonprofit entity whose board members are appointed by the mayor, manages a number of city-owned properties and helps allocate capital funding.
“This motion should be voted on with no questions asked,” he said.
Another concerned local, Kouichi Shirayanagi, said peninsula residents were left out of the negotiations with the EDC where they could’ve shared their concerns and asked the city to ensure that however they use the revenue proceeds, it would benefit the neighborhood.
EDC began working with boardwalk tenants in 2021 when they offered a lease extension and seven years of rent relief to four notable business — Ruby’s Bar and Grill, Paul’s Daughter, Brooklyn Beach Shop and Tom’s Coney Island — as the shops worked to get back on their feet after forced 18-month closures during the pandemic.
“The amendment NYCEDC is seeking will help businesses on Coney Island’s historic boardwalk,” an EDC spokesperson said. “The resulting lease and sublease extensions will afford them greater stability, enable them to better recover from the pandemic, and help them engage in long-term investments beneficial to the Coney Island community.”
Diana Carlin, owner of Lola Star, a storefront that’s been on the boardwalk for over two decades, said she were discriminated against and completely left out of any negotiations with EDC. Carlin said her emails to local officials have been completely ignored and they have iced her out of any rent reduction deals.
Faithful customers have rallied for Carlin by sending emails to the City Council on her behalf.
“I am urging City Council [not] to vote on this extension until Lola Star is rightfully included,” said one customer. “It is an injustice not to include Lola Star both in the process leading to the extension and the extension itself.”
The Borough Board will meet on Oct. 6 to consider EDC’S most recent lease extension.