“It was a great night and it was definitely a huge success by all accounts,” gushed Coney Island T-shirt maven Dianna Carlin following last Saturday night’s splashy grand opening party at her Lola Staar Dreamland Roller Rink in the abandoned landmark Childs Restaurant building on the boardwalk.
Sponsored by Glamour magazine and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger (promoting a new perfume called “Dreaming”), the event featured appearances by sparkly dressed pop singer Ashanti and pig-tailed actress Marisa Tomei (sporting her own kitschy t-shirt: “I’M PULLIN’ FOR PEE-WEE”).
“We had 1,000 people RSVP,” Ms. Carlin said. “Luckily, not all of them showed up. … For a while, we ran out of roller skates.”
Yet no one has done any skating at the makeshift rink since Saturday’s party.
On Thursday, Ms. Carlin continued talks with Taconic Investment Partners, which owns the historic building, about hammering out a deal to reopen the rink for the duration of the summer.
“There’s a lot of issues with the building as far getting it up to code,” she told The Observer. “As things are going along, we seem to be finding out more and more things that need to be changed about the building before it can be opened for the rest of the summer.”
Plumbing is an issue. “They seem very concerned about not providing real bathrooms,” she said.
On Saturday, skaters seeking relief used port-a-johns.
“It’s not a problem for me,” Ms. Carlin said of the temporary toilets. “They’re probably the best bathrooms in Coney Island.
Taconic, of course, has bigger plans beyond roller-skating for the 60,000-square-foot building. During Saturday’s party, Taconic co-CEO Charlie Bendit took The Observer up to the roof of the historic structure, where he dreams of building an indoor banquet hall and catering facilities with an outdoor balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. An idyllic setting for weddings.
But first, the old building will require some repairs. As Mr. Bendit and I descended the stairs, the ancient concrete cracked beneath our feet.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also likes the idea of a big catering facility one day opening in the Childs building. But, in the interim, he is supporting Ms. Carlin’s plan.
Standing rink-side last Saturday, the local politico waxed nostaglic: “When I was a boy, [roller-skating] was among the most popular family and teenage gatherings. And by the look of what I see here—young and old, ethnically diverse—it’s still something that people of all ages really enjoy!”
“We should do this,” he said. “If not here, maybe a better location can be found.”
Ms. Carlin owns the portable skating floor and a few hundred pairs of skates, courtesy of the event’s sponsors. She dreams of one day opening a rink next door on the vacant former Washington Baths site, which Taconic also owns.