Eight years after Coney Island narrowly escaped having its heart ripped out by an interloping landlord, one small business owner is warning that the boardwalk is in the grip of a soulless corporate takeover once again.

Outside City Hall on Thursday, a lively group of Coney Island locals, led by the proprietor of boardwalk tchotchke-shop Lola Starr, rallied to demand Mayor Bill de Blasio intervene against a proposed rent hike for the beachside mom-and-pop shops.

"Luna Park has made it clear that they do not have Coney Island’s best interest at heart," said Dianna Carlin, who owns Lola Starr. "They’re motivated by greed, and not the preservation of the spirit of Coney Island."

Both Luna Park and the commercial strip are managed by Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla. The company leases the property from the city, which bought the land for $95.6 million as part of a Bloomberg-era effort to clean up the seaside district.

Soon after acquiring the property in 2011, Zamperla moved to evict the longterm boardwalk tenants, with the goal of transforming the People's Playground into a Miami Beach-style destination where visitors could enjoy "a nice cappuccino." But when its deal with the Pelican Hotel Group fell through, and facing fierce public protests, Zamperla begrudgingly offered eight-year leases to the boardwalk mainstays.

Those deals expired at the end of November. After months of silence from the landlord, Carlin claims she a received a letter from Zamperla informing her of a 500 percent rent increase.

“It is unacceptable that Luna Park would drive a loyal tenant of almost 20 years out with its unreasonably greedy offer, especially on city-owned land,” said Carlin, who declined to say what she currently pays in rent.

But as the Lola Starr owner has cautioned of a repeat of the 2011 eviction saga, operators of the neighboring businesses say the situation is much less dire this time around.

“I’m of the strong opinion that everyone who’s on the boardwalk now will be on the boardwalk come this spring," said Michael Sarrel, owner of Ruby's Old Tyme Bar & Grill, a boardwalk fixture since 1934.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations told Gothamist that the boardwalk's other independent eateries, Paul's Daughter and Tom's, are both in the process of finalizing their leases with Zamperla. All three outposts face modest rent increases—between 25 and 75 percent more than what they paid under the 2011 lease, according to the source. (Zamperla reportedly forces its tenants to sign non-disclosure agreements.)

Ruby's and Lola Star

While Carlin was the only boardwalk owner at Thursday's rally, she was joined by other supporters, stilt-walkers and self-avowed freaks, who voiced a wide array of grievances about the city's management of Coney Island.

"This whole rezoning that happened is a fucking sham," declared Fred Kahl, a sword swallower and magician who goes by The Great Fredini. "They said they were gonna honor small business and they fucked them."

He pointed to the gleaming high-rises sprouting on the water's edge as a threat to Coney Island's enduring character, along with the influx of chains like Starbucks and Applebees (the latter of which folded this past September.)

Norman Siegel, the famed civil rights attorney, said the challenges facing Coney Island showed the necessity of commercial rent control. A new bill from Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin that would establish such a system has been met with skepticism from Mayor de Blasio, and firm opposition from the real estate industry.

"I think we got some phony progressives in this building," Siegel said, gesturing toward City Hall. (Siegel clarified that he is not currently representing any of the business owners).

Laura Lee Pants, the most recent winner of Miss Coney Island, who arrived at the demonstration on four-foot stilts, said the vision for Coney Island's future should be "all about individuality."

"Are we going to cheer for the Starbucks mermaid or the Mermaid Parade?" she asked. "There’s some things about Coney that are unlike any other place."

Councilmember Mark Treyger, whose district includes the Coney Island amusement district, told Gothamist he was in touch with Zamperla about the proposed rent hike, which he described as a "non-starter."

In a statement, Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he would "keep working with Councilmember Treyger and all involved to try and find a resolution."

Inquiries to the Mayor's Office and Zamperla were not returned.