Looks like the Coney Island Boardwalk may not be corporatized and Sodexo-fied this summer after all! Sources tell ATZ that the Mom and Pops known as “The Coney Island 8” who have been fighting eviction since November are being offered leases for the 2011 season by amusement operator Zamperla. The lease is said to be prepared and waiting for the parties to sign on the dotted line on or before February 16th. That’s tomorrow, when both sides are due back in court for the hearing that was postponed from last month.
The deal has been on our radar for the past few weeks, which is why we’ve been uncharacteristically silent on the subject. Sources have been telling us the lease has many stipulations, including a confidentiality clause, and the deal could go either way. If the deal gets done, we predict Zamperla will once again be seen as the good guy for giving up their strong arm tactics of recent months. Out with the old, in with the new will be postponed till 2012 and visitors will again be able to enjoy a beer at Ruby’s Bar and french fries at Paul’s Daughter. Shoot the Freak is expected to move to a new location to make way for the Boardwalk entrance of Zamperla’s new Scream Zone, but the rest of the businesses would reopen in their current locations.
The one-year reprieve for the Mom and Pops would end on November 1, 2011, when they will be required to pack up and go. The lease is said to be for the same amount of rent as previous years. Ruby’s, Paul’s Daughter, Cha Cha’s and others paid $100,000 for the season. An additional season would give the businesses an opportunity to set aside some money for moving costs and time to find a new location. Zamperla’s Central Amusement International has a 10-year lease on the City-owned property. As ATZ first reported last year, Zamperla also has an exclusive contract with Sodexo for food and facilities management.
Sources tell ATZ the lease stipulations include a confidentiality or nondisclosure clause, which would restrict the Coney Island 8 from making public statements about the situation. It won’t be the first time these businesses had to agree to zip their lips to keep their spot on the Boardwalk.
When Thor Equities owned the Boardwalk property, the majority of businesses had leases with a confidentiality clause prohibiting all public comments about the redevelopment of Coney Island, not only for the term of the lease, but for three years after its termination. Violation of this clause would have resulted in immediate eviction and a $10,000 fine for each instance of a violation. This clause prevented the businesses from participating in the public hearings that ultimately determined the rezoning and the future of Coney Island.
With 62 days left till Coney Island’s official opening day, we applaud a deal that insures the Boardwalk will be open for business. At the same time, that doesn’t let the City and its quasi-governmental agencies in charge of Coney Island redevelopment–the Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) and the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC)–off the hook for not including a provision for local small businesses when the City made their lease agreement with Zamperla.
In regard to the Boardwalk operators prospects, City officials were less than candid from the day the property was purchased from Thor Equities. At the press conference, which we watched live, Shoot the Freak owner Anthony Berlingieri posed a question to the Mayor, who was taken aback. The question was “Is there a place for us?” NYEDC’s President Seth Pinsky, who is a very slick talker, stepped up to the mike to reply. Pinsky said “Our intention is for the foreseeable future to keep all the tenants in place, certainly through next summer . And we’re going to be looking to work with each of you to figure out where it makes sense for the various tenants to remain as we build out the amusement park.”
Interestingly, that part of the press conference was excised from the version that went up on the web. If a reporter from the Brooklyn Paper hadn’t followed up with a story, it would have been excised from history.
As it turns out the EDC and their satellite the CIDC did not work with each of the businesses to see where it made sense for them to remain. Apparently the EDC figured out it didn’t make sense for the Boardwalk tenants to remain, but neglected to tell anyone except Zamperla. We called out Pinsky on this quote on ATZ and twitter when he had the nerve to tweet “Support your local small business” just as Paul’s Daughter was throwing their goodbye party. We invited him to the party, but of course no one from the City would show. City officials, both elected and appointed, refused to support or say a word to the press about the small local businesses booted off City-owned property in Coney Island. It will be interesting to see what if anything City officials will have to say about the new leases and future prospects for the Boardwalk Mom and Pops.
UPDATE March 8
Yes, all eight of the Coney Island 8 signed the agreement that will allow 7 of them–Shoot the Freak is out– to lease their Boardwalk locations for one final summer before they exit quietly. We tweeted our reaction this morning. What else is there to say? If you want more info on why the Mom & Pops are being forced out, read our posts on Sodexo.
Happy we’ll be able to drink @ Ruby’s, eat @ Paul’s Daughter this season. But deal nothing to celebrate. #ConeyIsland small biz on way out
UPDATE March 6
Tomorrow, March 7th, the Coney Island 8 and Zamperla are due back in court over the Boardwalk evictions. A one-year lease deal ihas been in the works for weeks. Will they all sign?
UPDATE February 15, 7:07 pm
New York Mag’s Grub Street just talked with Coney Island Island 8 attorney Marc Aronson who says: “We’re working on something that’ll be an amicable resolution for all the parties and something that’ll be really just for both sides, and we’re really close.” He says he expects tomorrow’s court date to be postponed for a weeks, “at which point we’ll finalize the details of the stipulation or agreement.”
Related posts on ATZ…
January 20, 2011: Sodexo Investing $2.4M in Zamperla’s Coney Island